Monday, March 30, 2009

April Fool's Lunch

No joke.

The last lunch was fun.

Wednesday, this week, Apri 1st.

At Coffee Social over on Indiana, just west of Division.

Meet there at noon.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Spokane to Chewela - the slow way

A lovely morning of riding. I took almost all back roads and a lot of dirt. The piece between Loon Lake and Chewela is a gold mine of mountain dirt roads. I don't think I'll ever be able to ride 395 again.
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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

High Drive trails appear to be open

The High Drive trails are surprisingly dry. I dropped down at the top of Bernard, then rode the middle trail that cuts the bluff overlooking Highway 195. A couple wet puddles, but no stretches of mud. The trail has a lot of sand in it so it drains well. I'll have to check out the southern low-lands section tomorrow or on Friday and see if that's dry too.

The Resurrecto RB-1 is fun to ride on this stuff. The big fat tires make it easy to be sort of sloppy when it comes to line-picking, so that's nice. These specific tires (Panaracer Col de Vie) are the standard, high-value 650b tires. They're like $20 and really good quality. I'm always surprised by how well the lame looking tread holds onto dirt. I wouldn't want to do high speed dirt cornering on these tires, but for climbing on dirt and general trail riding they're surprisingly competent tires. It's an inverted tread, so they roll wonderfully on pavement too. And at 50 psi, they're super comfy. 

I really need to work on the shifting/drive train on this bike though. The old Suntour cassette is used. The chain is used; the front chainring has a slight wobble in it, and I really don't like how stiff the Shimano bar-end shifters are. It's noisy and the shifting sucks, even by my super low standards.

I think I'll end up getting a new cassette and chain. I have Suntour barcons. I'm not sure what to do with the wobble in the chain ring. It's not an old chainring. I wonder if I can finesse the wobble out with a large mallet.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

New front bag

I've been looking for a big front bag for a while. I wanted something that I could use for overnighters and that I could use for daily commuting. I didn't want something with a bunch of pockets: it just needed to be big. It also needed to fit my favorite Alex-rack nicely and it needed to be weather proof.

The top is a roll down deal. Kind of like Ortliebs. I'm thinking you could pretty easily fit two half racks in here. The standard version of this bag has a roll down top that is another 6-8 inches higher.

My new Pelican Porteur bag from Swift Industries meets all criteria. Swift Industries is a 2-person shop in Seattle that makes panniers and other bike bags. They were super easy to deal with: I just filled out a form, specifying the color fabric I wanted and the custom dimensions that I wanted, and I have a bag less than a week later. It was pricey: $200. That's a good value compared to other bags of its size/quality. It also has custom-dimensions and is made here in Washington -- these two attributes really increase the value to me.

A couple months ago, I sold off some stuff (mainly my Rivendell Atlantis forks) to fund this purchase, so it felt more like a trade, which is somehow warmer and fuzzier, if only in my own little fantasy land of commerce.

The bag attaches to the rack with two of these straps: one on each side. There's also a strap to secure it to the back of the rack. See the next picture.

Anyway, I don't have much to say yet about this bag, since I've only had it on my bike for a day. But I ran to the store yesterday and loaded it up full and heavy and it worked fine. My S24O load this year will be this bag and a sleeping bag under my saddle.

I may have to rework this part. The buckle falls right on the rack's vertical support, so it doesn't really get super tight. I doubt I'll ever change it, but if I were to have a change -- it would be to put the buckle on the other side, but that's specific to my rack. This bag was originally designed for the CETMA rack which has two big stays that attach to the h'bars.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A different tandem

After two seasons of riding, Maddie grew tired of her tandem. So we sold it a few months ago. I regretted it (as always) when we sold it. But it's one thing to stash a bike in the basement or sort of work around it in the garage, but a giant tandem that is not being ridden is really hard to justify in our space. So out it went.

The tandem in the picture is one that I got a pretty good deal on it a few years ago. It's a Burley Rock n Roll. A solid, 26"-wheeled machine. I made a few changes to its budget-mountain bike setup: I put drop bars on it, made the drum brake into a drag brake by putting a thumb-shifter-actuator on the bars. I also put some lights, racks, and decent saddles on it: a B-17 for me and the sprung version of the B-17 (champion?) for Liza. 

The plan now is that Liza and I will give this a go.

Tomorrow is our inaugural ride. I have the day off from work, Maddie will be at school, and we have some Paris-Roubaix fliers to distribute around town. I just hope it's not pissing down rain the entire day.

I'm really excited to try tandeming with Liza. We've both captained a lot with Maddie as the stoker, but we've never ridden more than a few blocks together on a tandem. My approach to the tandem is all about hanging out with Liza. It's not about hammering or doing a bunch of distance. Liza is a stop-and-smell-the-roses type. She's a cruise along and look around rider. Hence, the platform pedals on the captain's cranks. If we enjoy it, then maybe we'll seek out longer rides, but the primary goal is to enjoy each other's company.

If it sounds like I'm convincing myself or her here, it's because I kind of am. Liza is on the fence with the whole idea, but is willing to give a honest effort. So, we'll see how it goes tomorrow. Hopefully, I won't have a listing here for a tandem for sale tomorrow night.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

John Dunlop's wet dream

All winter long I rode my Rawland with big fat nobbies. That's fun and it's useful for deep snow, but those tires are killers on the pavement. Cornering sucks and you just have to work too hard to get up to speed.

Today, I rode to work on the Rawland shod in my beloved Grand Bois Hetres. These tires are the best. The most comfortable, smoothest, fastest, cushiest, most wonderful tires I've ever been on. I went on and on about them when I got them last summer. But after not being on them for a long time and riding studs, nobbies, Pasalas, and even the Cerfs over the last 5 or so months-- riding these Hetres is just such a treat.

These are what pneumatic tires are supposed to feel like.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Someone should make a t-shirt

I know I could go to cafepress and do this myself, but it would be cool if someone else took this image, cleaned it up (remove the numbers and give it a transparent background), and made a t-shirt out of it.

This is my favorite shifter of all time. The good old Suntour barcon. I like the updated version too (the Rivendell Silvers), but the Suntours are just simple and cheap and smooth. They'll shift any chain over any freewheel with any derailleur. You can still find these NOS for around $30 if you keep your eye out.

I just put some Shimano 8-speed bar-end shifters on my resurrected RB-1, and I really don't like them. They're just clunky and hard to shift compared to the Suntours. But they're easier to set up if you don't have bar tape, since they have a nice receiver/channel for a 5mm shifter cable with ferrule. The Suntours don't have the channel: you need to secure the shifter cable to the shifter with bar tape. When I get some bar tape I'm going to swap out the Shimanos for my favorite Suntour barcons. 

BTW: component number 15 from the picture above is the money piece. You loose that sucker and you're SOL as far as I can tell.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lunch at Vien Dong

I'm meeting my buddy Beth for lunch at Vien Dong tomorrow.

Why don't you come along and join us?

Why? Because Vien Dong rules and it would be cool to see some people coming in on bikes. There's also a bus stop right in front of the restaurant. It's STA route 90.

What: Lunch with John and Beth
When: Weds March 18, 11:30

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Discovering Charles Road

I've been sort of thinking about climbs and hills lately. My thinking started off this year as, "which local climb is the hardest?"  Now, I'm starting to think more about the different kinds of climbs. 

One climb that always comes up when I talk to other cyclists about hills is Charles Road. I finally rode it today. It's a mile-and-a-half of pretty steep stuff. I had over built it in my mind so I climbed slowly with the expectation that the hidden portion of the hill over the horizon would give way into the "really steep part." But it didn't, so it wasn't such a bad climb. 

Next time, I'll attempt it at a slightly quicker pace and see how that feels. The Charles climb makes for a nice 50 mile loop, and according to Jake, there is a dirt option to get up to the Four Mounds plateau. So there's some good potential out there.

Today's ride was wet. It was rainy-snowy the whole time. The ride took me just under 3 hours and I was never too cold or too warm. Actually, I was never very comfortable, but I didn't suffer at the hands of the elements at all. I guess that's the point of figuring out how to suit up. 

Saturday, March 14, 2009


I got the RB-1 back from Glen yesterday. He learned a few things as he fixed up the crack at the bottom bracket:

  • The crack on seat tube (at the bottom bracket) was longer than it appeared from the outside.

  • The brass at the seat tube/bottom bracket interface didn't fill the lug; it was was only at the rim of the lug. Pretty shoddy brazing.

  • The place where one of the seat stays attach to the seat tube was also beginning to crack

I'm not surprised to hear about the shoddy brazing. Bridgestone built interesting bikes, but the quality wasn't always top notch. The Japanese factory probably brazed 100's of thousands of lugged bikes every year in the mid-90's. Glen wryly commented that Bridgestone had great catalogs. I'm heavily invested in Bridgestones; I love my RB-T's (the commuter and the cyclocross) and my MB-2 has been lugging an Xtracycle since 2005. I fully expect the RB-Ts to fail (likely at the rear drop out or the chainstay/bottom bracket) someday and I fully expect to repair them.

Anyway. Glen ended up drilling holes at the end of the crack and then filling the crack by TIG'ing it.

And the rear seat stays will be held in place forever by the new brake cable hanger. I've got canti brakes and hopefully another 5+ years out of this bike for $114. That's a good deal to me.

Maddie and I painted the over the exposed steel to slow the rust. Maddie chose the colors. I'm partial to her sparkley finger nail polish, so I put that on the front posts and over some orange polish on the bottom bracket scab. Maddie has some fancy oil paints that she dug out of the basement. Once the oil dries, I'll put layer of clear sparkle Wet'n'Wild on it all to give that special bling.

I was able to build it up with almost all used crud from my stash. I did have to buy a brake cable and a front derailleur from Pedals2People. My old XT front derailleur was too long for the dinky chain rings I'm running (44/30). All I need is some bar tape and I'm good to go.

A quick run up and down the street shows a lot of promise. This may be the Midnight Century bike this year. I'm not going to fender or rack it.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Commuting notes

I've been commuting now on my new route for a few months. Some random thoughts on that:
  • On the way to work, I prefer arterials. On the way home, I prefer side streets and I like to take my time.

  • It would be nice to have a camera attached to my helmet for easy shots. My latest phone is a cumbersome turd -- it takes good photos -- but it takes at least a minute, with no gloves on, to queue up to take a shot. I don't have anything extraordinary to shoot on my commute, but my daily routine intersects many other peoples' daily routines and that intersection would be interesting to shoot spontaneously.

  • I'm the shadow

  • There's another commuter in the morning that rides my favorite part of the route (through Liberty Park) about 1/2 hour to an hour before me. I can tell by the tracks s/he leaves on snowy days that I'm not far behind. It's weird how I feel connected to this person I'll probably never meet. They run 700x35 hakkappalitas too.

  • I'm not sure if it's the cold or the commute, but I'm not doing as many longer rides or as much ad hoc riding/trail riding that I normally do.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Snow is still legal

It is still officially winter after all. Blech. I'm glad I left the studs on the 720. It's icy as shite on the south hill tonight. The high tomorrow is 20's. yay.

I'm hosting late garage nights at the P2P garage on Monday nights. 8-10 pm. We were packing out Weds nights, so we're trying the late night deal once a week to see if that helps reduce the strain on Weds nights.

Tonight it was just Tanner, Jon, and me.

Tanner and Jon were working on a couple lady Schwinns: hacking them for a tall bike.

Hammering and hacksawing

Friday, March 6, 2009

Racks on the Ave

I rode up University Avenue yesterday in Seattle. I was hoping to get some photos of my favorite rack loaded up with many bikes.

It had been raining pretty good earlier in the day, so there weren't a lot of bikes around.