News for the ‘bike’ Category

Hey Bike Tour – Day 3

flat tire

You never regret going on a bike ride.
This is what I told my wife when I got home from the post office and bank today in a light drizzle and a recent drop in temperature. And this is true about my recent bike tour as well.

My friend Richard called me today to check in on the recent tour and I realized that I had only blogged about the first two days. Assuming you all check my website daily I’m guessing you were quite certain and I had met an untimely end on a back road of Minnesota. It seems the only plausible explanation for why I hadn’t blogged day 3,4, and 5.
As it turns out I did not die but am very much alive. I just got kind of tired. I’ve now written up the last few days and will post them one day at a time complete with an insight/observation blog at the end. Here goes something.
DAY 3 – Winona – Acoustic Cafe
The ride from from Wabasha to Winona was short and beautiful. It would’ve been shorter had I not got another flat tire. Again it was on the rear wheel which is akin to taking everything out of the trunk of your car to get to the spare. Luckily I got it right next too a beautiful park. I think it was in Goodview. So I had a snack, laid down on a park bench for awhile, and patched it up. Onward to Winona. I got to the Acoustic Cafe mid afternoon and stashed my stuff in a corner. I took care of work stuff- wrote a set list, deposited a couple checks at the bank, and sent off a CD order that I had been carrying with me since St. Paul.  Then I headed over to Adventure Cycle & Ski and looked into some tire options. The folks there were great and I spent everything I had made in tips so far on a new tire (hard case, puncture resistant) and leg warmers. For some dumb reason I had only brought bike shorts and these nifty things covered the rest of my legs which I was very grateful for the next two days.
I ate a huge vegi burrito.
I played to a small crowd.
Patty, who I sold my lap steel to a couple of weeks ago in St. Paul, happened to be playing with Jack Klatt down the street, saw me, and waved. We talked. Small world.
I had a great time.
The guys working at Acoustic were super great. People came and went as is the norm for most coffee shop gigs, but everyone that came listened. The tips were good, I sold a few CD’s, and at the end of the night I got to stay with a friend’s parents who put my bike on their bike rack and took great care of me. I woke up to french toast and eggs. ’nuff said.


Posted: October 30th, 2013
Categories: bike, transportation
Comments: No Comments.

Nice Buns and Booking

That’s right.  You look at those and you say to yourself, “Wow Nate, nice buns.”

I’ve been baking a lot lately, challenging the quotable Jesus, “Man cannot live on bread alone.”  I’m also trying to drop a few winter pounds.  Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

Our camera’s been on the fritz and I know photos are essential to tricking people into reading so I’ve put off blogging for awhile.  But now with a shot of my nice buns (the joke never gets old) I can see that you’ve been sucked into my typographical vortex.  Suckers.  I mean fan base.  And Mom.

In my wordy absence I’m happy to announce I’ve got some great shows coming up in the next few months.  For all the details checkout the Tour Page.  For highlights:

The end of this month I’ll be on the bill with a veritable cornucopia of Lutheran artists as part of Lutheran Songs Today Live!  I successfully weaseled my way on to this tour by co-writing a song with Jonathan Rundman.  Yay for Nate!

In April I’ll be in the Fargo Moorhead area – I’ve got some openings in that schedule – book me!

And in June I’ll be on (drumroll) Bike Tour!  That’s right, I’ve got two confirmed dates and a couple in the hopper.  I tried doing a bike tour last year and it didn’t quite pan out.  It was my bike tour by car tour.  For this tour I’ll be playing at churches and coffee shops.  For those of you tiring of liturgical Nate, this is your chance to hear me get my folk on.

And at the end of June I’ve been invited to join the Wild Goose festival in NC.  For those of you sick of my folky side heres your chance to hear us get our liturgy on.

These are some pretty sweet shows and I’m honored and yes, giddy, that I get to play them.

Till then, lets have one more laugh together.

Nice buns.

Posted: February 10th, 2011
Categories: bike, bread, music
Comments: 1 Comment.


Our Vanagon is changing our life.  This isn’t actually ours, but it’s identical to the one we own that is resting in our garage.  Hopefully not in a final resting sort of way.  I had no idea when we bought this thing how much koolaid we were sipping into.  It’s a Vanagon cult out there people!  Nor did we do much homework on this thing.  It was cheap, we had savings (note use of past tense), we had dreams, it was time!  And now?  Our dreams are changing.  And yes, this Vanagon is changing our life.  (I’m using the singular in the sense of the life of our family – just in case you were wondering.)

I’m an independent type that relies heavily on community.  My interests fit that well.  Writing songs is solo – performing songs is communal.  Working on bikes -for me- is solo.  Riding bikes is communal.  Baking bread, solo.  Braking bread, communal.  I think there is the same sort of independent/communal dichotomy to the Vanagon as well.  I was hoping to jump into the communal aspect without the independent time.  But it looks like the new dream is learning how to replace head gaskets.  Or more accurately, learning what and where the head gasket is.  Then we’ll dream of replacing it.  Same with CV joints and starters.  It might get into some body repair too.

Admittedly I’m bummed that it’s going to take this much time and energy to get out there and join the community. As much as I love (and this is not sarcasm) riding down sloppy snowy streets with my guitar on my xtracyle,  today is one of those days a second car would be nice.

So we spend some time alone in the garage, or with a notebook and pen, or flour salt oil sugar yeast, or in bed, and we work on these dreams and join the community.

On second thought maybe its not such a dichotomy – maybe there’s more overlap then I realize.  Maybe the community of vanagon forums will allow my independence to thrive.  Just as listeners and neighbors and family allow me to write, tinker, and bake.  Dichotomy was the wrong word.  I’m not so sure you can separate the individual from the community that  succinctly.  It’s way more messy than that.

Coincidentally, based on the Vanagon community’s input, so is replacing head gaskets.

Posted: December 7th, 2010
Categories: bike, bread, friendship
Comments: No Comments.

Bike to School

Last week was so beautiful last week I picked Lydia up from school with her bike on the back of my bike.  She got a ton of smiles and thumbs and what not from her teachers and friends and then we took off for the library and home.  If it were up to her (and my schedule for that matter) we’d do this everyday.  And here’s a school who felt the same way:

Maybe this spring we’ll get this going in our neighborhood.  It could be great.  It could be one more light at the end of yet another Minnesota winter.

Posted: November 15th, 2010
Categories: bike, edumacation
Comments: No Comments.

The Bikeless Bike Tour

The plan was to put clothes, tent, sleeping bag and instruments on my bike and do a 5 day tour culminating in a CD release concert for Becoming Liturgy.  But that plan didn’t work out.
The catch with touring on a bike is that you greatly limit the distance between tour stops.  If I was in a car and couldn’t get a show in Madison I could drive on to Chicago.  If you’re on a bike and your show in North Branch falls through you call every other church within 10 miles of North Branch and try to make it happen.  Trust me, I did.  Then you have an opening on Friday night that you can’t fill.  Again, you call everyone between Mora and Waconia and hope for the best.  But truth be told I simply ran out of time to fill in the date.  There wouldn’t have been enough time to promote the shows.  That’s just the way it goes.
So do you bike anyways?  Spend Wednesday a.m through Sunday p.m. pedaling your little heart out for two out of town shows and one back at home?
That’s when you hold your career up to the light and see that biking isn’t really part of the calling – it would add a little vacation to the vocation and there’s nothing wrong with that.  But when it comes down to it I can’t justify being gone five days without those two other shows.  I’m also called to be a Dad and support my wife’s calling by being home with the kids on her work days.
I’m thankful that though this tour didn’t work out the way I planned, it’s still working out.  And even though I don’t get to ride my bike I still had the opportunity to bike to almost 100 percent of my gigs this summer in the Twin Cities area hitting churches in St. Paul (where I live) Edina, Minneapolis, and White Bear Lake.  And last week I biked to Humble walk with Elsa, Focaccia, a lap steel and a lap dulcimer all on the back of my xtracycle.  I’m stinkin’ proud of that!
So folks, if you’re in the vicinity of Mora, Waconia, or St. Paul next week come check out  my revolutionary new tour: The Bikeless Bike Tour.  Now with less bike!
Nate Houge – Concert at Calvary Lutheran Mora MN
Thursday September 16 2010 7pm
Nate Houge – Concert at Faith Lutheran Waconia MN
Saturday September 18 2010 7pm
Sunday September 19 2010 11am Worship
Nate Houge – Worship at Humble Walk St. Paul MN
Sunday September 19 2010 4:30pm – potluck to follow
Nate Houge – CD Release Concert at Christ Lutheran Church on Capitol Hill St. Paul MN
Sunday September 19 2010 7pm
Full band concert with Jason & Erin DeBoer-Moran, Micah Taylor, and Jonathan Rundman. This will be Becoming Liturgy’s official release concert.
And if you’re wondering what the bike tour would’ve looked like here’s a picture of my bike fully loaded for church camp.  I rode this 55 miles north to Wild River Sate Park as part of a training ride.  It worked!  Clothes, Tent, Sleeping Bag, Guitar and Mandolin.  The only thing missing from the picture is how great I smelled by the end.  Really great.
Posted: September 10th, 2010
Categories: bike, music
Comments: No Comments.

my new tour bus

Here it is.  My new tour bus.  It’s the xtracycle free radical kit. I tried it out last night for the inaugural ride to Augustana Lutheran Church in Minneapolis.  I had the honor of playing for an ELCA mission training event.  There were about 150 pastors from all over North America joining to learn how to better serve their communities with the gospel.  That’s a powerful thing.   And stinky ol’ me got to lead them in song.  In a decision based on simplicity and personal challenge I decided a few days ago to lead all the songs without any printed materials.  No hymnals, song sheets, powerpoints, tag boards etc…  And it worked wonderfully.  Of course in no small part to the fact that there were 150 worship leaders in the room.

I’m looking forward to putting more miles on this bike.  The round trip last night was just under 20 miles which was a nice test ride distance.  About 3 weeks ago I played at Edina Community Lutheran Church which was also about 20 miles round trip and I did that with my guitar and merch in a burley trailer.  Comparing the two rides I will say that traveling with an xtracycle is way easier for a couple of reasons.  Better handling.  Narrower load.  Both of these things are way important when cruising in the city.  Of course on family outings when handling and width aren’t an option there’s always what my kids refer to as the dinosaur train:

Lydia rides the tag-a-long, and elsa sits in the trailer/trunk with the groceries or whatever we’re hauling.  I think contraptions like this explain my excessive drive train wear.

Here’s the deal with riding bikes though.  It’s contagious and it only gets easier.  It doesn’t have to be intimidating or le tour-esque.  The xtracycle free radical kit is pricey, but I put it on a bike I got for free off craig’s list.  Not perfect, but it works.  (Actually the frame was free, the bar end shifter and seat I got from my friend Jim ‘century’ Welton and the handlebars that could accommodate bar end shifters are from Hiawatha Cyclery.  And while we’re giving mad props, I purchased the extension kit from Capital Deals in West St. Paul, where Alex and his wife are tops and the two mechanics are MK’s like me.  But much younger.  PS  when did i get old?)  (oh yeah, and the brake levers and rear cassette are from the greatest used parts store in St. Paul, Express Bike Shop)

Where was I?  Oh yes, bikes are great.  Living in the country’s most bikable city doesn’t hurt – I’m constantly amazed at how many trails are out there to navigate the cities and there are more bike lanes every day.  I also think that drivers are getting more bike friendly.  I’ve had way fewer rude interactions and way more thumbs up this summer.  So go ride your bike.  And if you want to check out my xtracycle come over and take it for a spin.  And if you buy the kit and need a hand I’ll help you put it together – it’s that great and I want that much for you to drive less and bike more.

And that’s the last blog for a few weeks.  I’m off to camp in ID.  I’ll drive to the airport fly in a jet plane take a two hour drive in a big old pickup and buy bigger shoes to fit my carbon footprint and help balance my big head.  All in moderation people, all in moderation.

Posted: July 30th, 2010
Categories: bike, music, transportation
Comments: No Comments.

I’m Christian but Not Quaker

But I like this guy.

And I like his approach to touring

And I like the xtracycle.  It’s a great company doing great things.

And so I started stripping an old mountain bike yesterday with the intent to add the free radical so as to have my very own tour bus.

Pretty much only a stubborn bottom bracket is standing between and my dreams realized.

Posted: July 9th, 2010
Categories: bike, music
Comments: 1 Comment.

The First One Hundred

Last weekend I had the privilege of going down to St. Louis to visit my best friend Jim and his lovely wife AnnaMarie.
In high school we were pretty big into mountain biking but over the years we’ve both moved towards the simplicity and practicality of riding on the roads.  We get together about once a year or so and if possible we get some biking in.  Some of it better planned than others.  Not unlike our getting lost in the Mark Twain National Forest in high school.  A four hour ride that turned into ten.  A few years later I drove down to visit him when he lived in Columbia MO and we ended up continuing the drive till we got to some admittedly great single track in North Carolina – around the Nantahala National Forest as I recall.
So when he picked me up at the airport on Friday morning I asked him if we had anything planned for the weekend and he said, “Have you ever done a century?”  (For those of you who have better things to care about, a century in cycling refers to riding 100 miles.  There’s also the more European metric century which is 62 kilomiles.)
The fact of the matter is that neither of us had ridden a century and in fact we both had 85 miles as our longest ride to date and for both of us even that 85 was a bit of a distant memory.
We went out for breakfast at The Rooster and talked it over a bit more.  The more we talked the dumber the idea sounded.  The dumber the idea sounded the more we thought we should do it.  We’re a heck of think tank.
A ride like this demands certain preparations so Jim and I got to work looking up training tips on the world wide web.  There’s a lot of information out there and we were dealing with some time constraints so we had to do a little gleaning.
We maximized our efforts by prehydrating as we surfed the net.
Another tip we picked up on is the importance of saddle time.  My inner MacGyver kicked in and I developed an innovoative technique to get maximum saddle time along with maximum comfort.
Now I know how the Dyson guy feels.  Breakthroughs like this come once in a lifetime.  It’s nice to have that checked off.
By our calculations we had 6 more hours to train at this point.  I had brought riding shorts and a helmet and was able to borrow the rest of the necessary gear from Jim, including a bike.  Unfortunately all his cycling jersey’s were a bit small on me.  Normally I’d be fine in a t-shirt but the forecast said it might rain and it seemed like a good idea to pick up something more conducive to wet riding.  We went to REI and I found this great jersey on sale.
I’m guessing it was on sale because they made it upside down.
Back in the car I spent a little more time training by continuing my prehydration.
The rest of the day involved raising the seat on the Salsa Casserole I was borrowing from Jim and eating shawarmas and french fries.  Of course we weren’t so presumptuous as to call this food.  We were men in training.  This was fuel.
Ah, waking up at 5am.  Oatmeal, bananas (the first of many), and the energy drink of the gods, coffee.
We had a 45minute drive out to where the ride began.
It looked like it might rain.
Yep.  I’m thinking the weatherman’s 60% chance of showers was a bit optimistic at this point.
We arrived at 6:30am, registered for the ride, came back out and as we got ready it started to sprinkle.  I decided to take this last shot before leaving the camera in the car.
Originally I was going to take it along, but it looked like it might just get a little wet.  So no more photos till after the ride.
By mile two it was pouring.  By mile three we were soaked to the bone.  The rain continued in varying degrees for the next 70-80 miles.  It did let up between 12 and 1.  Coincidentally this is when we stopped for lunch and were debating whether or not to to go out for the last 35 miles.
Every 30 miles or so you came by the starting point.  This made for an easy out.  I broke my ride into thirds.
Part 1 – Distraction.  I figured if I talked enough I wouldn’t even notice the riding.  This pretty much worked.
Part 2 – Completion.  I pretty much tucked in behind Jim and conserved my energy, my theory being as long as I made it through this loop I’d only need enough energy left to begin Part 3.
Part 3 – Begin.  Yep, as long as I began this loop I figured I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.  It was like Pascal’s wager but on a bike.  And it worked.  As we finished Part 2 I was hurting pretty bad and ready to throw in the towel (also borrowed),  but Jim in his wisdom and more fit position suggested we have lunch and then decide if we wanted to start the last loop.  Well lunch made all the difference.  That and the fact that it had stopped raining.  My legs felt better.  We headed out.  It started raining again.  Not so bad this time and it stopped for the last couple of hours of riding.  Sometime after 3:30pm we crossed the finish line.  The first one hundred miles.
Posted: May 19th, 2010
Categories: bike, friendship
Comments: No Comments.

Elsa Armstrong

Elsa (recently turned three) learned to pedal a little bike like this about 10 days ago.   It has an 8 inch wheel and the crank is connected directly to it.  You could call it a fixed gear, but it doesn’t have any gears.  It’s just fixed.

We most often bike to church and when we do my eldest rides her bike and Elsa rides in the trailer.  Elsa’s recent ability to pedal her own bike coupled with her recent coming of 3 years of age has given her a new found sense of power and determination.  So yesterday she told me she wanted to ride her bike to church too.  Why not?  Worse case scenario she hops in the trailer.  So Lydia rode her scooter, Elsa rode her fixie, and I walked behind with my bike and trailer.

Turns out I didn’t need the trailer.

Elsa biked the entire way to and from church, for a grand total of one mile on her wee little bike powered by wee little legs and a great big determination.

I know it was mother’s day, but still I couldn’t be more proud as a father.

Posted: May 10th, 2010
Categories: bike, family
Comments: 2 Comments.

blest be the bikes

Check out my thurible I’m proud of my thurible.
Jodi will probably blog about the blessing in the next few days at
Micah Taylor takes nice photos, eh?
Thanks to Joe Autumn and Scott for all the mechanic skills.
And thanks to Express Bike Shop for the old freewheels.

Posted: May 3rd, 2010
Categories: bike, diy
Comments: No Comments.

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