Wednesday, July 30, 2008
I'm in the Seattle area for work. When I'm here, my buddy Alex lets me borrow a bike. This cargo bike is his latest creation. Man it rules. That's the coffee table from my hotel room on there, just for illustrative purposes. I should take it for a spin....
Today we were able to get away for a long-ish lunch and took a ride.
In true Alex style, he suggested a dirt path amongst the cul de sacs and suburban roadways of Redmond that got us to lunch at a local strip mall.
It's moments like this -- where you can bust out of your workday for just a slice of the day to ride through some cool forested trails with a friend-- that make bikes such an essential luxury to me, regardless of where I am.
Speaking of which, I haven't ridden through Spokane in about 2 weeks and I miss it. It will be good to get back into the routine next week.
This bike is just so cool. I call it the Shithauler 800 because it's made from an old Trek 800 frame, so the "800" is still on the frame. And this thing can haul some serious shit. You can see the silly little load that I had on there. I'd love to try moving a dorm fridge on there. Or Liza and Maddie. Or a stack of bike frames. Or a set of tools for a P2P free bike tuneup.
Since Alex hacked the front end off the frame he was able to dial in the headtube geometry. I think he said it was 72.5 or 73 degrees. The load sits over the wheel but it's not on the steering axis, which is weird at first. The load seems to float from side to side over the front wheel, but you get used to it quickly and the handling generally is nice and quick. I was able to do super tight radius slow turning -- easily within the bounds of a parking space.
On the dirt trail it climbed well, since the back end is mountain bike. It's a smart bike that could easily be a daily driver. This would be great for overnighters. Alex also designed it so that it can go on a standard bus rack. What's not to like.
The build is smart too: Origin-8 bars (cheap version of the On-one Mary bars); indexed shifting with (get this) Suntour XC Expert thumbshifters hooked up to a rear XT derailleur on a SRAM 8 speed cassette. Shifts amazingly well considering it's indexed. Drum brake on the front; v-brake on the rear. The bike feels solid.
Of course I want one.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
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Now that I've had a week to think about my ride and a few minutes not devoted to work stuff, I wanted to throw out a few thoughts on my ride last week.
My original, (internal) goal was to get to Everett in two days. I wanted to get to Winthrop on Day 1 and Everett on Day 2.
The main reason I didn't make this was because I didn't read the maps carefully enough. Loup Loup pass was a big unexpected hill in the way that killed me at the end of Day 1 and pushed me out about 4 hours late into Day 2. The last time I rode Highway 20, I rode west-to-east, and cut south at Twisp, down the Methow valley to Brewster and Peteros, then Coulee to Highway 2. I didn't like Brewster/Peteros, so by avoiding those towns, I went north at Coulee on my west-east journey and that's how I made the Loup Loup mistake. Too much detail? Oh well. If you're still with me, that's lesson #1: look at maps and elevation better. I think I may have made it in two days if I went the Methow Valley way.
Why 3 days? Seems unfun and rushed.
True and False. I met my family at the end for a family vacation. I couldn't take more time and I wanted to ride 20 this year. It's hard to take the 5-6 days this trip should take at this point in my life. And if I had that kind of time to take a bike ride, I would do something more remote... as I did last year at Gifford Pinchot.
Also, I just wanted to get through the central Washington bit as fast as I could. Aside from the Coulee Dam, Omak Lake, and a few other sort of interesting views/landscapes, the flat/rolling monotonous riding of central Washington does not inspire me. Another plan I had was to blast through to Winthrop as fast as I could and if I decided to, I could take a full two days from Winthrop to Everett, to enjoy Highway 20 more. But once I got going, I really wanted to see how fast I could make it.
GPS elevation profile from east-to-west, based on route above.
Which direction is harder?
I think west-to-east is harder if you're just talking about the Rainy and Washington Pass part of the trip -- avoiding Loup Loup. Climbing the western approach to Rainy/Washington is about a 30 mile climb from Ross Lake. But if you are coming from Seattle, it's really a steady climb for about 70 miles.
With regard to hauling stuff, Kent has talked about comfort. I'm paraphrasing, but his advice makes sense: it's more comfortable to have a lighter load than it is to bring all the comforts of home on your trip. This is especially true if you ride a ton of miles. After Day 1, I could've slept wonderfully on the ridiculously thin coroplast/duct-taped wafer that Kent calls his sleeping pad.
I don't wear cycling shorts for this kind of ride for two reasons: Firstly, the funk factor. I wear thin REI sort of mesh poly undies and dry fast shorts. When I try wearing shorts/undies with a cycling chamois/pad, things just get too hot and humid. Secondly, I don't feel ok jumping in the water with bike shorts for the same moisture/funk reasons. I like to take advantage of rivers, lakes, streams, and waterfalls as I ride on hot days. I don't want to do a full change to submerge. That's probably the main reason. Since I never wear padded shorts, my butt is fine.
I compressed a nerve in my left hand on this trip. It's already clearing up, but it makes me think about changing hand positions more. I did wear cycling gloves.
Otherwise I was ok. I had a wee bit of stiffness/soreness in the back and neck region, but I think that's to be expected when you spend that much time on your bike. I had about 6 ibuprofen every day to keep inflammation at bay. That always helps.
As the Walmartification of small town America is pretty much complete, you tend to rely more on convenience stores for food. I think most convenience stores are stocked by the same one or two companies, since they all have the same crap in them. Fresh fruit is limited. Luckily, central Washington has a bunch of orchards, so cherries, apricots and frozen cider was abundant. I really wanted cold watermelon when I hit Okanogan, but there was no longer a local grocer there, so I had a green banana, salty craker/cheese turds, and a bunch of frozen fruit bars from a convenience store before I climbed Loup Loup.
I'm not into endurance riding. I like long rides and I'll do long days again, but not stacked on top of each other like that. What I like about this experience though is that it proves to me that my radius for S24O's is larger than I thought. I could see doing up to 75 miles out for an over nighter. I know a really cool place on the Columbia River that's about that far away that I could leave around noon for and be back by noon the next day.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
The word from Mr. Blaine: There will be an informal Bike Swap on Sunday August 10th 8am to 11am in the Wheelsport South parking lot at 29th and Regal. No fees or sign up. Buy, Sell or Trade. Tell your friends.
The latest cycling meme... From fatcyclist via 100km
If you could have any one — and only one — bike in the world, what would it be?
I'm pretty close with my hacked RB-T. I call it a Wetmorian: steep angles, low trail, takes 35+ fenders, canti brakes, standard gauge tubing. Same old same old from me.
Do you already have that coveted dream bike? If so, is it everything you hoped it would be? If not, are you working toward getting it? If you’re not working toward getting it, why not?Do you already have that coveted dream bike? If so, is it everything you hoped it would be? If not, are you working toward getting it? If you’re not working toward getting it, why not?
I pretty much do have that bike. Except for the tire clearance and I'd rather have 7-4-7 tubing and bit bigger frame size: 59 cm I think. Some day it will happen. I'm not working toward that specific bike at the moment; I am working on two others. Life is too short to focus on one bike and I have still have a lot to learn about bikes and what I like.
If you had to choose one — and only one — bike route to do every day for the rest of your life, what would it be, and why?
It would have to have a great climb; a great descent. Some good dirt roads; some nice smooth trails. Good views. Maybe an urban traffic section. Good coffee. Good food. Start with the south hill trails to Joe's Marshall Loop then back downtown, up Greenwood, across Palisades, down to the river at SFCC. Up doomsday for a cruise through the park and a stop for a burrito at Neato. A stop at the Scoop on the way home.
What kind of sick person would force another person to ride one and only one bike ride to to do for the rest of her / his life?
hm. meme tax question.
Do you ride both road and mountain bikes? If both, which do you prefer and why? If only one or the other, why are you so narrow minded?
I'll go with the "fat tired road bike" option. I hate this distinction.
Have you ever ridden a recumbent? If so, why? If not, describe the circumstances under which you would ride a recumbent.
Yes. I wanted to try them. I'll keep trying them as long as friends loan them to me.
Have you ever raced a triathlon? If so, have you also ever tried strangling yourself with dental floss?
No. And I have zero interest in attempting it. No.
Suppose you were forced to either give up ice cream or bicycles for the rest of your life. Which would you give up, and why?
I'd give up ice cream. It gives me gas anyway and I'm mostly off the dairy at this point as it is.
What is a question you think this questionnaire should have asked, but has not? Also, answer it.
Do you have goals around cycling? If so what?
Yes. Cylocross in the fall. 2 races. Don't come in dead last.
You’re riding your bike in the wilderness (if you’re a roadie, you’re on a road, but otherwise the surroundings are quite wilderness-like) and you see a bear. The bear sees you. What do you do?
I've thought of this scenario. If there is a cub involved. I don't move. Except for maybe dropping a load. If not, scream yell make noise and hope the bear runs. If the bear stays, the plan ends with me in a fetal position guarding my head/neck and hoping for the best.
Now, tag three biking bloggers. List them below.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
That first five miles provided a good taste of the day to come. I spent most of the day climbing. I crested three passes. And I learned that my GPS does actually compute altitude accurately.
The one element that really helped today was the water falls along the climb. I immeresed fully 3 times. It was glorious.
All up: 120 miles. 11.5 hours on the bike. I've got about 80 miles to go tomorrow.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
I ended up at Sweat Creek Campground. It's "primitive." And no one is here. Which is both kind of nice, and kind of creepy.
The last three hours has been solid climbing. The big stuff is tomorrow: Washington and Rainy passes.
Time for bed.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
I don't really like going into this kind of stuff here, but at some point, if you ride enough --especially if it's riding to get to work, store, or other non-recreational riding -- the ridiculousness of our car-culture will hit you like a ton of bricks.
Riding your bike will not insulate you from the rise in oil prices. Clearly, our entire economy is based on the fact that oil is cheap.
There are a bunch of interesting sub-topics around high oil prices: transportation, urban planning, bio fuels, politics of NIMBY drilling, ANWAR, refinery issues, the war in Iraq, oil speculation... the list goes on and all of these issues are connected. And there is very little consensus on what "THE ANSWER" is.
I know one thing: the quality of our children's future relies on our generation to make some changes in our lifestyle. And that's the last thing people want to hear.
Anyway. The guy on the phone in this YouTube clip is Matthew Simmons. The absolute recognized world expert on oil and oil production. He was the advisor to HW Bush and an advisor to Cheney and Co. He's an ex-oil guy with tons of creds on both sides of the aisle.
The look on the faces of the talking heads as he explains why oil is still cheap at $140/barrel and will only go higher is priceless.
He also explains the fix: we need to make some changes in how we live.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
The careful reader of cyclingspokane will remember that a few days ago I mentioned how I went over the bars on my RB-1. And how afterwards a little creaking noise began. Well, there it is. The crack at the bottom bracket.
Dang. My bike karma is is coming home to roost lately. Wheel issues on the RB-1 and the RB-T (the RB-T needs a new rim -- it's offical); my cranks on my blue RB-T have been revolting on me too. Now a cracked bottom bracket shell.
I guess I'll haul it over to Hairy Gary and see what the cost is for replacing the shell. If I don't replace the shell what'll I do with this bike?
I tried riding it today; I think I could get away with riding it and listening for the creak to get louder. That's the benefit of steel right? It fails gradually. With lots of creaking and groaning and swaying and bending.
Friday, July 11, 2008
"Mini Epic," I guess that's an oxymoron. That's fitting after today's ride. I feel a bit like a moron.
I was finally able to do the Mica Peak climb I was hoping to do a couple Fridays ago. I had the rare occurrence of having a crummy ride. There were lots of contributing factors.
The biggest reason was that I ran out of water way too early and pushed it too far without water. I was about 3/4 up the hill when I ran out of water. But I was so close. I knew there wouldn't be water at the top -- yet I kept going. Dumb.
My knee has been bugging me a bit lately. Normally I stand on long climbs like this and just take it slow, but there was an inch or so of loose gravel and the grade was crazy steep. So I couldn't engage the rear wheel unless I sat down. My RB-T is not geared for spinning up climbs. For rock stars it would be fine: 30/28; but for me that's grinding. So my knee paid for that -- not having gobs of water didn't help the knee either I assume. So that was stupid too.
As I bombed down the other side, which was really an old road: bigger than a trail, but narrower than a road, my camera popped out of my handlebar bag. It popped out because I didn't close the pocket it was in. Of course I didn't see it. This required an hour of back tracking UP the hill again... only to find it about 100 feet from where I had started to back track. By this time I was beginning to feel a bit lightheaded for lack of water. Lame.
I finally ran across some water trickling down the side of a hill. I drank two bottles worth w/out treating it. (Sounds lame, but I trust water that comes out of the side of a hill, especially if there's no grazing up above. But we'll see, maybe my next blog post will be about how I stayed up puking all night.)
I got off course and a bit lost for while. I only packed a GPS. I didn't even bring my Spokane County map. If I had a good map, I would enjoyed the ride down the hill after finding water. Instead, I had to rely on my GPS, which is OK, but not enough. You need the context provided by a map. I got lost for about an hour as the trail got narrower, rockier, and steeper. There were also a lot of fallen trees across the path. Sucky.
I was home by 4:30.
Here's the GPS output:
Lies. Mica Peak is not 5000 feet. I think it's about 4600. But all the same. The climb is pretty severe and packed into about 8 miles.
There's lots to explore in that area; I'll go back next summer and find a better route. I'll also bring more water and a map.
Even though it was not a fun ride; it was still worthwhile. Lots of obvious lessons there that I'm embarrassed to think that I still need to learn.
Jacque smashed out 8 teeth and busted her jaw when she wrecked on her bike a few weeks ago. She needs help with bills to put everything back together. Last I heard this was in the $30k range. The event is a fundraiser at the Wild Sage this Sunday night.
The Wild Sage is hands-down my favorite full-service place in town. And Jacque's step-dad is just a really good guy who loves riding. To top it off, one of the silent auction items is a a Pedals2People Basic Maintenance Class for you and 3 friends, taught by Liza-the-Great.
See you there.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
As for my RB-T dirt machine trail rider: I knew I was a bit rough on it last week in Bayview. I was doing too fast descending on rough, rocky, rooty, washed out logging roads. It was really fun, but I can remember at least 3 brutal rear wheel impacts that made me grunt on behalf of the bike.
I really shanked the rear wheel. I trued it up a bit last week and there was still a huge bump in it. So tonight, I attempted another full-on rebuild: loosening the spokes all the way and rebuilding it. There's a good dent (and is that a hairline crack?) in it and a pretty severe flat spot. I can't achieve equal tension, roundness, dish, and lateral trueness at the same time -- not even close. If I get reasonable lateral trueness and tension, there's huge bumps in it; by the time I work out the bumps, it slides out of truness and the tension goes to crap. By the time I fix true that out, the dish is off. It's frustrating and I'm no pro wheel builder. I can do a new Velocity rim pretty well, but this kind of stuff is beyond me.
Oh. And I have a flat now too. Nice.
So, I'm running a 36 hole LX hub with a 700c Velocity Synergy OC rim. I'm wondering if maybe a Deep V rim would be stronger? All other things equal, which is stronger? The beefiness of the Deep V or the OC-ness of the Synergy?
Any opinions out there? Is there a better 36 hole rim to run with this? The hub is fine. Within reason, weight is not an issue. I want strong and I don't want to buy a new hub.
How about the Blunt? It's 28mm wide! Maybe the Dyad makes more sense?
Friday, July 4, 2008
This last picture shows where the road ends. I think many years ago the road went where the erosion/cliff deal is now. Today, there is a trail that leads you up to a bunch of big rocks, which put you at the base of the climb. And that's the easiest climb out of there.
By the way, the picture at the very top of this post is down by the river, just below SCC. There is a great trail from the Centennial Trail. Here's my guess of where it's at:
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This is an old timey trail. I think I first rode it when I was about 16. It was my first intro to "mountain biking." Course now, it's way more fun on a drop-bar'd fattish tired road bike.