Monday, March 23, 2015

S'plorin' w the s'plorer

I made a quick run to the Kettle River yesterday. This morning I got up early and had a couple hours to tool around. This is the end of the road. There used to be a bridge/raised roadway that continued here. You can't see the pilings in this picture, but they're there.

This is a little section of trail that my brother-in-law Andy and I revived last summer. It's an old road that shaves off a good chunk of road riding for a loop we like to do. Last summer we cleared away the deadfall and started riding it often. I'm guessing it's being maintained by the local game animals now.

Found an old root cellar.

It's cool to see how someone put a long time ago put this together -- they used the local rock, then mortared it all together.

Timber roof. Long since caved in. I wonder if there are any old jars of food under that rubble? I saw some busted crocks and jars in there. 

A few years ago a forest fire came through and cleared out all the undergrowth and tiny tree forests that were under these trees. That's a great method for making things very ridable. You don't need a trail with that set up.

In unrelated news. When I got home I found this odd situation in my garage. The hook holding the cargo bike broke/pulled out of the wall and the bike fell on its nose -- and leaned against the tires. No harm. No broken stuff. No big whoop. I left it.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Fly fishing... in reverse order

Packing it in. Skunked again. Live bait spinning is rarely this demoralizing.

You're done when you lose your fly. Or it's hopelessly tangled.
Or you're out of beer. 

I love the eyes on this wooly bastard. He's so delectable looking, I just about ate him. Somehow the fish were able to resist the lure.

Packing up. Optimism is high. The river is more than half full. The fish are surely eager and hungry... ready to hit anything, even a rookie's fly.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Saddle time

Maddie and I are slowly building up saddle time. Watching her ride over the last week or two has highlighted a few changes that still need to be made to the bike.
I'm going to find her narrower bars and get them a bit closer yet. 
She often rides with her elbows locked. We did a 16 mile ride today and her arms hurt. 

I'm also going to put some smaller rings on it. Maybe use the 74 for a 24 and then the inner 110 with a 38 and a bash guard on the outer. She never uses her big ring, which is a 46 or so. I let her set the pace, and on flats it's pretty relaxed. She never pedals down hill, preferring -- like any sane person -- to coast instead.

She stands on all climbs always. And hauls arse too. On dirt climbs she spins out a bit, so with a lower gear I'm hoping she will sit back and spin up without loosing traction on the rear wheel.

She's into dirt. We were traveling down this paved road when she decided to go jetting through the adjacent field instead.

Stopping and exploring is important. This can be hard for me and I need to go with it. I was pretty fixated on our destination today and I had to remind myself to chill. 

Our destination was an old blocked off road that I've ridden by a bunch and always wondered about. Turns out that at the end of the road there's an old train loader, long dead. 

Beyond that is the Kettle -- about a mile from the Columbia confluence. The Columbia is drawn down, so this section of the Kettle River is way more exposed than normal. This is the pre-mud picture.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Riding with Maddie

We're gearing up for our summer of touring and overnighting. If weird warm weather holds, we'll do our first S240 of the season in a couple weeks.

Glen found this bike a few months ago. It's going to be a great bike for Maddie for this summer.
I've spent the last month or two figuring out the right set of components for it. I swapped the drop bars for the Space Bars that Maddie loves. I put some ultra cheap thumb shifters on it. It had some great Suntour XC pro indexed thumbie, but it was too hard for Maddie to shift with her thumb. She always used her palm to shove it. The Sunrace friction shifters are about $10/set and shift like butter.

For rackage: I have a Tubus Cargo on the rear and a Bruce Gordon lowrider on the front. Lights, DT toplight in the rear and old B&M first gen LED up front, are dyno -- driven by the front hub. Good enough for be-seen, which is what we're after.

This was at Riverside yesterday. She's pretty comfortable getting down most stuff. 

Clearly: she's not digging it. She told me while we were out yesterday that she agreed to go because she felt bad for me, but to her surprise, it was really fun. Works for me.

The rigs. We'll be working these suckers out this summer. 

Maddie has the expert way of taking selfies: you prop up the phone, take a movie, then screenshot the frame you want. I stole a kiss right before she ran back to turn off the movie.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

River recon

My river trail over-wintered well.

Pugsley loves this area. Man does it love it.

Maddie is doing the no-hands thing now. This is how she does it. I've tried to explain the idea of just hovering the no-hands above the bars in case things go sideways.

This is her just as things went sideways. She did the hop, jump, and skip-off dismount.
It was pretty pro.

Lots of run-off up there.

Big sky.

Liza had her hands and bucket pannier full as she did her first trash round-up of the season.  

Some snow still on the banks.


My bucket overfloweth with trash.

Sunday, February 1, 2015


Spy photo: Me. Skiing with prototype invisible skis.

I like it. I want to get better at it. I want to get all backcountry about it.

I got these skis a few years ago for big snow commutes when I worked about 3 miles away. I did that commute on skis exactly twice. I've taken them up to the local park a few times in the last couple years on big snow days, but I've always wanted to dive in more.

My buddy, Kaaren, took me up to Mt Spokane this morning and let me loose on their nordic trails. I really suck at the basics, but I love the whole thing: super quiet, hearty workout, and lots of skills to develop. I'm in.

You may wonder how I took such excellent photos all alone up in the mountains?

I used my monopod:

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Review: Surly Pants aka WorkRide Pants

I've got a stack of pants that I've been wanting to write about here for a while. The Surly WorkRide are my favorite.

The upshot: the folks at Surly get the essentials of what a casual pant for riding needs to get right. In the monointernetculturetechnospeak of our day: Surly nailed the platform. As for implementation, not quite. If you're on the fence about these pants, you might consider waiting until v2. But if you can handle the failures these pants exhibit -- and I can for sure -- then get them and be at peace.

I've had my eye on the Surly Pants (MSRP: $95) since they were announced about a year ago. I like canvas pants for riding. I loved the roomy-thigh-sort-of-water-resistant-gets-softer-the-longer-you-own-them Carhartt Dungarees for the first few months. But the ass blows out prematurely. And that's a bummer.  

The Surly pants appear to have a similar Carhartt vibe going, with the color, the canvas, and the monster thigh room. And even better, the ass is reinforced and stitched in a way that doesn't put a seam under one's sensitive areas.

So that's really the thing: these pants fit perfect for riding; they're made of the right stuff; and they have a fix for the premature ass-blowout issue. That's what makes them the perfect platform.

Then the Surly people started adding a couple bikey-specific features which just close the deal on the sale... on paper. But here in the material world, they pretty much screwed the implementation pooch on both of those features. 

These are one size too big for me. They fit a bit better at the height of holiday debauchery.

And before I start railing on this, let me remind you that I love Surly. For so many reasons. Here's a few: the bikes are smart and a great value. I give them a big chunk of credit with contemporary mainstreaming (and more importantly, manufacturing components for): single speed mountain biking and road biking. Fat bikes. Did they invent that shit? Nope. But they doubled down and put the engineering and money bets into those areas. And yes, it's all Q's money, but that doesn't matter one bit to me. As an organization, taking risks, making smart shit, and disregarding the nabobs is highly valued. I love their website, especially their font, but their overall info organization and presentation is f'ing good. And their catalogs are righteous in both copy and design. Got it? I dig these guys.

But the bikey features of these pants are shit.

Why yes, that is an NFE.
One thing I was excited about was the little built in rivet-snaps for pulling the pant leg out of the way. As a solution, this appeals to me way more than some velcro or other strappy thing: it's simple and won't flop around when not deployed. But alas: all pants with waists 34" and bigger have inseams of somewhere around 38". Think about how long that is. It's ridiculous. They sort of Surly-acknowledge that on their site, but they don't own it.

The potentially-super-useful snaps live near the bottom of the pants. So by the time I chopped off the bottom of the pants so they fit (I paid a tailor $15 for this), I only had one snap left and it was in a location that assumed there would be another snap further down to make a snug fit. So that feature died on the cutting room floor. 

A rivet-snap used to live in that hole.
How about that nifty bike lock holder pocket strap deal?  I'm guessing that whoever put this project together found a really good price on those rivet snaps. And it turns out the reason those little snappy button things were such a screaming deal is that they're really chintzy. A week after wearing my pants a couple of the rivets started peeling away from the canvas. And one in particular didn't peel in away in a quick and fall-away sort of fashion. Instead, it bent on the way out, which left a sharp, thin rivet edge sticking out of my pants right at the ass. I didn't notice this slow failure. I tend to sit on my ass on chairs. Turns out that even hard, antique oak is still not harder than cheap rivet steel. 

See that scratched up section of chair? That's the handiwork of a cheap rivet-snap.
Dudes! That chair tied the whole room together.
Once I figured out that the rivet was tearing up my chair, I inspected other rivets and found that a few of them were in similar shape. So I yanked them out with pliers. 

Ok. So those are the big failures. But here's something I love: the front pockets. They're frigging huge and deep and wonderful. I carry a lot of shit in my pockets (right this second: knife, wad of cash, headphones, phone, pen, stack of wallet-related-cards-in-a-rubber-band, a small note book). Dainty pockets drive me nuts. This pocket thing, again, is part of the platform, which these pants nail.

And aside from the failed features, these pants are quality and there's a great attention to detail. Darted knees. Fancy ass reinforcement in a nice shape. Lined waist. Thick belt loops. Triple stitching. Good stuff.

That strap hanging down is supposed to hold onto your u-lock. It's a cool idea. And I used it a couple times. But the strap had a failing  rivet-snap in it that pulled out when I unbuttoned it one day.

I wanted to love these pants. And once I got over the disappointment of the faulty bikey features, I have found love. True love, really. If you know me and you've seen me since mid-November, then I've probably been in these pants. I will be watching for v2. And when it comes, I will get a new pair.