Saturday, January 31, 2009

Friday, January 30, 2009

Trails, fenders, snow

I went and checked out the trails off of High Drive. Where there's no snow, there's mud. So, no surprise there I guess. I got right off after about 20 feet. It looks like a lot of foot traffic is still on there.

The Shogun 2-speed now sports drop bars: much better. But it doesn't have fenders, which I intend to follow through with. This bike will be fenderless. But looking at how trashed my coat and pants and shoes get from just 10 or so miles of tooling around on wet and muddy pavement, I am thankful for the other fendered bikes in my garage. By running full fenders with a flap, you can avoid almost all road grime.

This guy rules (click for big):

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Clearing stuff out

"We" have a goal this year of not buying a bunch of new bike stuff, to buy used whenever possible, and if buying new, to sell off old stuff to fund the new stuff.

So, my first round of stuff is pictured above. 
  • The brifters are Shimano 600 8-speed: $50
  • There's a lil'loafer Rivendell canvas bag there: $70
  • A bendix 2-speed kick back, red band hub: $50
  • A Fatty Rumpkin 650bx42 tire (about 200 miles on it): $35
  • A Velo-Orange Ostrich handlebar bag (decaleur attachment not included): $80
  • Brooks B-67 (reshaped after being soaked): $35
  • Atlantis fork for a 700c wheel: $150

If you are local and any of that stuff looks interesting, contact me and you can come over and inspect. I hate trying to describe how used stuff is on email. My "good" is ususally other people's "fair." This isn't fire sale pricing here, but hopefully I'm not too deluded in my ideas of worth. 

Not pictured is Liza's RB-1 frameset. It's a 1994, 53 cm frame. Fun bike. Frame/fork/headset: $300. This frame is in really good shape.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Another option for a north ride

View Larger Map

My dad and step-mother live up on the Kettle River. It's fun to ride up there and there's lots of routes. For a quick version, it's an easy century ride straight up 395. Another route I've done a couple times is to go up to Springdale via Tum Tum, go west over the little pass to Hunters, then go north on the west side of the Columbia. That's a great day ride.

There's a lot of mountain and dirt road just north of Spokane/Deer Park in the corridor between 395 and the Hiway's 2/211/20 route. I think I'm going to focus on that area this year. The route above is sort of an intro route that ends up at my dad's place.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Civic Update

Three items of note.

#1 Public Meetings for pending Spring roadwork.

These meetings are really important to attend. There is sort of a stubborn defense of the status quo in the bureaucracy of our city's engineering department. The idea that moving as many cars as fast as possible still guides decision making and street "design" here in Spokane.

But, when citizens speak out and question the designs, they can be modified to make walking and cycling better. It's not trivial to modify design and you can meet a wall of half-truths, technical obfuscation, and resistance. But the fact is, good design can happen and money can be found if the will of the people is strong enough.

These upcoming meetings are actually scheduled at times when normal working people may be able to attend.

Meeting #1: Southeast Boulevard from 29th to Perry.
Tues, Jan 27th, 6:30-7:30 pm
Hutton Elementary, 908 E 24th Ave

Meeting #2: Alberta St. from NW Blvd to Francis Ave and Cochran St from NW Blvd to Alberta St.
Tues, Feb 3rd, 4-6PM
Shadle Park Presbyterian Church, 5508 N Alberta St

#2 Local Transportation Stimulus Priorities

Thanks to the BTW site for pointing to the SRTC site where the big doc (pdf) is stored.
The doc linked there lists the potential "shovel ready" projects for the federal stimulus money.

The "non-motorized" projects include:

  • Fish Lake Trail: Sunset Highway to existing trail to the south -- this is paving the rest of the FLT. There may be some connection-to-downtown work included here too, but this does not include the bridges over the tracks.
  • Freya St. Sidewalk: 57th to Aquatic Center
  • Bike Routes Downtown: Jefferson, 4th Ave, Howard, Spkn Falls Blvd, Riverside -- this is a big loop around downtown, bike lanes mostly, but also some interesting work on 4th Ave to move bikes against the one-way traffic.
  • Wandermere Road Pathway: Wandermere Road
  • Historic Iron Bridge Rehabilitation for Pedestrian and Biking: this is the bridge that crosses the river by the Iron Bridge condos and hooks into East Central/Sprague area.
  • Ben Burr Trail: Liberty Park to Erie/Riverside-- this connects Ben Burr trail/Liberty part to Trent with bike paths, lanes, and signage. This really becomes useful with when coupled with the Iron Bridge piece above.

My favorite is the "Historic Iron Bridge," which just opens up East Sprague/Central to downtown. And sets the stage for my pet route.

#3 Final MBP Public Comment

You are receiving this e-mail because you have expressed interest in Spokane’s Master Bike Plan. We wanted to let you all know that the most recent drafts of the Master Bike Plan, Planned Bikeway Map and Comprehensive Plan Changes are now available on our website:

Please take time to review the documents. On January 28th 2009, at 5:00 p.m., in the City Council Chambers, the City of Spokane Plan Commission will hold a public hearing to receive public testimony on proposed Master Bike Plan. The Planning Services Department is proposing that the Master Bike Plan be adopted as an emergency amendment to the Comprehensive Plan as provided in Spokane Municipal Code Section 17G.020.010.E

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Loaner Bike

This is the bike that Alex leaves at work for me to borrow when I come to town. I really enjoy riding it. I think it's a 1983 Trek 620, as for components, it is just standard goodness: fly rack, Noodle bars, B-17, Sakae compact double crank (45/28 I think), Suntour barcons, and bitchin Avocet Fasgrip tires. These are great tires. I don't think you can find them anymore, which is a shame, because they feel very close to the Grand Bois Cerf to me and they were about 1/2 the price.

I use this loaner to go from work to the hotel, which is only a mile or so. I try to get in at least one ride with Alex and/or a ride to family or friends for dinner. Last night I rode to Woodinville, which is about 10 miles on the Sammamish River Trail. It feels great to ride hard on a long flat run like that. Especially after the last few weeks in Spokane, where I've spent a lot of time huffing and puffing through the snow or carefully picking over icy streets.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Next step: ride

I finished the big-kid bike today. Turns out that when I reassembled the hub I put one little piece in upside down. Oops. That made the hub a freewheel, instead of a coaster brake, and it broke the 2-speed feature. And it exposed some bearings weirdly. I had to un-assemble and reassemble the hub a couple times to figure that one out. I feel pretty good now about overhauling and reassembling a Sachs Torpedo 2-speed kickback hub. 

An unidentified employee at REI squeezed the rear fork ends down to 117 or so. He even aligned the front forks. Nice unidentified guy that he is. 

I took the bike for a quick spin in the dark and it seems fun. I may have to fuss with the stem. It's got about  100 mm on there now. But with the semi-swept back space bars, I may want a tad more reach. Maybe I'll just lower the bars a bit and see if that does it. 

It will be fun to get good at using this hub. Liza rode the old Raleigh 20 quite a bit when this hub lived on that bike. She got pretty good stopping, then being in the right gear for take off. 

I'm running 36/17, which gives me about a 56" low gear. That puts second gear at about 76 gear inches. While I won't win the tour with that gearing, it's pretty perfect for cruising and getting up just about any hill in town. And it will be fair for trail riding. 

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hub Cleaning

Well that wasn't bad at all. I can't believe I've been putting that off for so long. 

There were sub-components that I could've disassembled further, but the hub was really pretty clean. There wasn't any of that resin-type gunk built up, so I just took the main hub bits out, cleaned them up and bit and put fresh grease in there. 

It was easy. Of course who knows if it will still shift or if it will brake right or if it sticks or something else. We'll see.

Tomorrow: crush the rear drop outs and build the wheel.

I should be rolling by tomorrow night or Saturday.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Next bike

Photo sniped from hubstripping

Remember all that talk about being satisfied with the bikes I have now? Well that was crap.

I've been sitting on this hub for about a year now. It's a Sachs Torpedo Duomatic: a 2-speed kickback coaster-brake hub. Liza had an American version (Bendix) of this hub on her Schwinn. This hub came off my old Raleigh 20 that ended up going to Tarik

Anyway, my plan is to build up a wheel around this hub and make the Shogun into a big-kid bike. What this means to me is just a simple bike with a coaster brake: no fenders, no rack. It will have platform pedals, 700c wheels with 32 mm Pasalas. I've got some Orgin-8 Space Bars (rip-offs of the One-one Mary bars). It'll be a fun bike for fast cruising, trail riding, and summer commutes.

There are a couple things slowing me down though. 

Thing 1: Frame Crushing

This hub as an OLD of 112. OLD is "over lock-nut distance," which corresponds to how wide the rear fork of your frame needs to be to accommodate the hub. 112mm is narrow by today's standards --  which are at the narrowest, 126 mm, but they're more commonly 130 or 135 mm. 

The Shogun has 130 mm rear dropouts. I plan on squeezing  and cold-setting the rear dropouts to 117 mm to deal with this hub. Actually, I plan on taking the frame to John at REI to have him do it. Last time I farted around with bending up a frame, I screwed it up. 

I think the tool to have for this operation is the Hozan frame tool. The Hozan tool encourages a more deliberate, iterative approach to spreading and compressing the fork ends.  I have the Park Frame and Fork Straightener, which is a much more brute-force lever deal that encourages me to over-do it and make huge corrections in a single operation. Yes, I'm blaming my ham-fisted, gorilla technique on tools. 

Squeezing the frame doesn't matter much to a steel frame if it's done right. It's the kind of thing though that slows me down because I feel like I should do it. I've got the Park tool, I've got the dropout alignment tools, and even a frame alignment gauge. I feel like a total wanker not doing this work when I have all these tools. But, as any wanker gear head will tell you, I don't have all the right tools. The Hozan tool would be nice to have here as would a work stand that attaches to the bottom bracket for ultimate stability. 

My way out of this is to tell myself that I'll continue to get better at the rear triangle thing by working on bikes at P2P. We see some bent up, mangled stuff there that are good practice frames to learn on. 

Thing #2: The Hub Overhaul

Before I build the wheel, I want to overhaul the hub. I've not taken apart a 2-speed kickback before. I've taken apart a few single-speed coaster brake hubs and I've had good success. To balance those successes, I have a half-disassembled Sturmey Archer 3 speed in my garage that will likely never be put back together. So, I've been putting the overhaul for a while.

Looking at the exploded diagram of the Sachs, I think I'll be alright. Last night, I found this guy's pictorial essay on reassembly, so I'm very confident now. I just need to set aside the chunk of time to do it. Perhaps this is how I'll spend my Friday night. Woo-hoo, who says I don't know how to par-tay?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday Moring Ride

Click for big. There's a nice view hidden in grayness.

Joe, Brent, and I took a nice little loop from downtown, up Greenwood, across Rimrock towards Garden Springs. There's some neat roads out there that look interesting for future exploration. Trainor is one. There also appears to be some old rail grade out there and a potential power line road. 

Friday, January 9, 2009

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Review: Lake MXZ301 (CXZ302) Winter Cycling Shoe

Bottom line: these are great winter cycling shoes for sub-freezing winter conditions. They're not great for super wet/all-weather commuting.

I've been holding off on buying SPD winter boots/shoes for years. And every year I have at least one ride that is ruined or cut short because my toes have frozen. So this year I decided to drop some coin on real winter riding shoes.

The MXZ301s are the 2007 model. They retailed for about $250. I got them last summer on close-out for $175 from Spoke-n-Sport. This year's comparable model is the CXZ302, which retails for $270.

The Lake Winter Cycling Shoes seem to be the standard, and for good reason. They're warm. My coldest ride was a few weeks ago when it was about 4 F with a good wind. I was riding for about 30 minutes and my toes were fine. I wear these boots with two pair of "liner" wool socks.  Liner socks are the ultra thin ones. These boots kick booty in serious cold. I've never had such happy feet in those conditions.

In extreme wet and not-as-cold conditions these boots are not as great. They have neoprene cuffs that basically absorb water. You must run flaps on your full fenders to keep the water from kicking up on the cuffs of these boots. Otherwise, the water will soak in and then drip into the boot. 

Over the last couple days, where gobs of snow has melted, I am riding and tromping through deep slush and puddles over a layer of ice. These are just sucky conditions, and these boots don't keep out the water, and I'm being mindful of not tromping through the deep stuff. For the cost of these boots, I would expect them to keep my feet dry in this muck. 

One thing that has always bugged me about these boots are the lacing mechanisms. They don't work any better than normal laces, but they introduce a level of fussiness and point of failure that renders the boots unwearable if the laces or the mechanism breaks. After a couple weeks, one of my knobs popped off. It's held in place with a tiny screw that requires a special tiny pin spanner, which is not included with the boots. So after reassembling the little mechanism, I tightened the screw down with the point of my knife. It failed a couple more times. I finally put some blue loctite on the screw and that's held it for the last month. Cheesy.

These laces are like dental floss. And they will break. The good news is that Lake is very quick about getting new laces to customers. Mr. Blaine had one break on him and they over-nighted laces to him. That's great, but I think they should include an extra set of laces when you buy the boots, so you don't have to potentially miss a ride or two waiting for the Lake proprietary laces to arrive. I also think they should include the impossibly small pin spanner tool to open the knob too. Actually, I think they should just use traditional laces and forget all this fussy over-engineered knob lacing system. 

In the end, if I were buying again, I think I'd get the Lake MX265 Cycling boots

They are billed as 3-season, but I'm thinking if you bought big you could put some beefy wool socks on, and lather them up with some Proofide and be ok. They won't solve the crazy muck wet scenario, but they retail for about $100 cheaper. And they look relatively normal. Which I like. The MXZ301's have a Jetson vibe going.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Skiing to work

My first run. My second time on xc skis.

That's a lot of work. Fun too.

Mobile post.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sunday Fun

We did the Sunday morning DeLeon's ride. I think we had 8. If you're interested in joining us for casual rides, check out the forum for updates. We'll try using the forum again.

That's Pat and his white basket. He gets the best winter bike award: Karate Monkey with stupid fat knobbies at 25PSI; internal-gear hub with disc brakes (Alfine... bling!). If you have to do one bike for winter this would be it.

This is the hill that won Pat the best winter bike award. This is the second hill that goes from 5th to 7th Ave next to the Ronald McDonald house. He popped it down to 1st gear and just cruised up both hills. Of course, as Lance would be quick to remind us: it's not all about the bike. Pat is in that picture by the way. Top of the hill on the left. The little dark dot. Craig and I were walking.

Ice bike. Good for cruising. The gear is a bit tall for climbing steep stuff and hauling Liza around on the sled.

We ended up having a beer on the way home from DeLeon's. That's Joe.

On Illinois Ave. Illinois is a great street on a clear day. Looking south-west you can see downtown and and the south hill.  It was a beautiful amazing day this morning. Bright, clear, blue, cold. Lovely ride.

After the morning DeLeon's run, Maddie, Liza and I went sledding. We dropped Maddie off at a friends and then Liza and I tooled around the south hill. 

We've decided that we like this winter and if they keep coming like this, we're going to embrace it and enjoy it. According to the news, we'll have up to 9 inches of fresh powder tomorrow morning. If so, I'll be trying the new x-country skis on my commute. 

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Kickin it - Liza's kicksled

The conditions are perfect for Liza's kicksled.

All the side streets are compressed snow and ice: smooth and slick. And there is a high of around 10 F today so it's staying hard and fast.

A couple weeks ago, I rigged up a sled pulling solution for Maddie by hooking onto my favorite little REI backpack. I find it sort of funny how overly technical the back pack is. It's got hoops and loops and straps and such. And it's just a wee little thing. But by hooking a carabiner into one of the overly reinforced little grommet hoopy deals, I can make myself into a sled dog. The pack has chest and waist straps, so when I pull, I'm pulling with my shoulders and chest. It really makes hauling Maddie around on her sled nearly effortless.

So today, while Maddie was out with Grandma, Liza and I tried out this dogsled routine with her kicksled. I rode my fixed, studded 720 Ice Bike and we were in business. We covered a lot of ground in no time. 

First we hit the Scoop for some caffeine, then we went to Fresh Abundance, then we dropped off the groceries at home and went up to the Rocket on 43rd. We picked up a couple items there, then we came down Arthur to Super 1 for the mega jug of cinnamon (it should be against the law to make oatmeal without cinnamon).

We were having so much fun and making such good time, we detoured down Manito Blvd to the park and took the long way home. 

It's amazing how easy it is to pull Liza with this set up. It was a good work out, and much more fun that just climbing hills alone. We're hoping for a prolonged cold spell now.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Cycling Spokane in Aught Eight

Last year I did a year-end wrap up about my year cycling in Spokane. It was too long. My first resolution this year is to make the year end wrap up shorter. We'll see how that goes.

Bike Advocacy and City Stuff

Another banner year. Looking at the goals from last year (finish Master Bike Plan, hire a bike/ped coordinator, and do at least one infrastructure project), we did good. We hit two of three.

Although we didn't see any big projects complete, we made critical progress on laying the groundwork for real future progress. 

The master bike plan is nearly done. It will likely go before the city council in the next month or two for adoption into the Comp Plan. The MBP is a big deal. It's a hard requirement for any real money to flow into Spokane for bike infrastructure. Here's my first post on the MBP about a year and half ago.

The other important milestone is that the city will now have a paid FT position for a bike/ped coordinator. Although the Bicycle Advisory Board has been pushing for this for many years, you can thank Richard Rush for pushing this through. Having a FT person in the city whose job it is to watch out for bike-related opportunities and to help the engineering folks do the right thing will be a huge benefit to the city. 

Goals for 2009: secure money and do stuff. Now that we've got the plan, it's time to build. There may be some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to get funding for infrastructure next year: either through the stimulus package that Obama is proposing and/or SmartRoutes

The Bikes

I could copy-paste this section from last year into this space and just change the bike models/names. When it comes to the comings and goings of bikes, I'm a predictable bastard. 

I wrote up a post last week that pretty much lays out the bike plan for the up coming year.

Here are some lists --

Bikes that went away in 08:
  • Maddie's tandem: She's all solo now. I'm hoping Maddie will be game for the Burley in a few years. The Bike Friday tandem went to a family in Missoula.
  • Schwinn snow bike
  • Liza's Schwinn
  • Bridgestone RB-1: bottom bracket cracked. I'm not sure what to do with this frame. I kind of want to save the forks for something someday. 
  • Shogun: This is just such a great frame. It went to Patrick, but it's coming back. I have neat plans for it. More on that in 09.
  • Garyized Trek 520: It's not gone yet, but it's no longer ridable as I'm already stealing parts from it. It's a fine bike, and will suit somebody perfectly. I want a bike that can haul a bunch of stuff, but I can just about haul the same amount on my RB-T "urban" bike. So the 520 overlaps too much. 

New (or repossessed loaner) bikes in 08:

2009 Goals: stick with the current crop of bikes the year through. I can't imagine unloading the 747, Rawland, or the RB-T. But I may build another bike or two. I already have a plan in mind to bring back the Shogun. 

Last year I had a goal of not buying as much crud. I didn't do so well there. This year, I'm going to go again at that. The bike projects Liza and I have queued up don't require a ton of new parts. And we're going to try and buy used where ever we can, especially now that Liza is no longer wrenching at REI, which means our sweet 30% discount goes away. Ouch.


In the community arena, it's been a great year for cycling in Spokane. The participation numbers for Bike-to-Work week and SpokeFest were both a huge surprise to organizers. These were fun events. I'm looking forward to SpokeFest especially this year.

Pedals2People continues to grow. We ended our Village Bike Project by shipping 200 bikes to Seattle to combine with BikeWorks for a shipment to Ghana. Our garage DIY community shop took off this year. We did a bunch of free bike tune ups. And we got our 501c3. There's a bunch of stuff in the hopper for next year. Mainly: getting our free bike tune ups dialed in and getting another DIY community space up and running.

Cyclocross racing community. This is a great community of people. More on that here

Jeff's FBC took off this year; it was cool to see over 70 people turn out for the prom ride on a warm spring night, buy it was just down-right amazing to see nearly 40 turn out for the Festivus ride through the cold snowy December night.

Bike writing. There are a bunch of Spokane blogs that are mostly about cycling: Jeff, Pat, Derek, Taylor, Jason, David, Ben, Joe, Joe, Jacque, Barb, Joe Blogger, Spokane Fixed. And some that have frequent cycling posts: Hank, Lazy Eye, Jon, and John.

Joel at the Inlander wrote a nice piece last summer on the state of cycling in Spokane.  And if you're a careful and diligent reader of the Slice, you'll see pretty frequent bike-related thoughts from Paul Turner in the Spokesman-Review. But it's Jon at OTM that continues to treat cycling as a mainstream topic. I'll continue to write my monthly column for Jon in 2009 and I think we'll probably see even more cycling content in his pages over the next year.

Goals for 2009

1. It would be great to see the bike community and community at large work together to do some in-town bike races. There's talk of hooking a criterium into the Garland Street fair. If I had a buck for each time I heard someone talk about how cool it would be to have a down town criterium, I'd be a millionaire. Maybe this is the year to push that? Any takers?

2. Continue to bring in new riders. If you are on a bike already, smile and wave to the newbies, especially those that are clearly replacing car trips. If you know people that are the fence about cycling for transportation, help them make the leap by offering to help them learn about routes, gear, cycling in traffic, etc. 


This has been probably my best riding year ever. The highlights:
  • Midnight century. I can't stop going on about this ride. It was the best of the year. 
  • Cyclocross racing. Same deal. I just can't shut up about it.
  • Spokane - Everett run. Although this wasn't the most fun ride I've ever taken, it was epic for me and I enjoy going back and looking at the pictures and remembering the ride. 
  • Alex visit:  Alex is a great friend. The majority of our interaction is online and a few minutes a month having lunch when I'm in Redmond for work. In the last few years we've taken a couple tours together, but this year we didn't have a plan. So it was nice that things sort of fell into place for a quick Alex visit. We rode, drank beers, and did an over nighter out to Badger. A nice weekend.
  • Trail and dirt road riding.  I've always sought out the dirt roads, but the Rawland inspired me to do a lot more trail riding. 
  • Hills. My relationship with hills is continuing to evolve. I think my favorite hill right now is Sunset Highway to WW drive(?) -- up to Indian Canyon, the back way. It's a weird route, but I like pushing from Gov't Way and seeing how well I can maintain to the top of the route. It's strangely satisfying. I like that Hill because it's not stupid steep and it's pretty steady. And it's just the right length. Maybe 2 miles?
  • Riding with Maddie. Since she learned how to ride on her own, it's really been fun to watch her pick up little skills: signaling, braking, maintaining a straight line, etc. 
Goals for 2009:
1. Race cyclocross again. In 2009, I'll attempt to race B's. That's a big jump for me. We'll see how that goes.

2. I'm not going to make an overnighter goal this year. I'll take what I can get. Same with a long tour. I'd love to take off for a week, but that's a hard sell right now. 

3. I've got to the the long way to my Dad's. It's the Springdale-Hunter-Gifford-Barstow route that I've not done for almost 2 years! And it's a great ride. 

I think I broke my first new year's resolution already. Damn.