Monday, December 26, 2011

Cycling in Spokane - 2011

Gonna go for the ultra-short version this year. Really. No links. on a miserable computer set up... pardon the formatting funk.
Those that came
-- Shogun came back again. From Patrick. Now Jon (of Eberlizer'ing fame) is borrowing that for the winter. It's a great River Bike and will go back to that role in the spring.
-- Salsa Ala Carte – mountain bike. Your basic 26” steel hardtail with Fox forks. Suites my riding perfectly. Yes! I’ve tried 29’ers! 
--That half-fat bike thing.
-- Legolas. Love it.

Those that stayed
-- MB2 -- The oldest bike in the fleet. There's something about how low my bar of expectation for this bike is and how it therefore over-delivers.
-- 747 and Cycle truck:  consistent putter-outters.
-- Elephant v1 – love it. Soon to be swapped out  for Elephant v2 frameset (slightly larger with different tubeset).

Those that left
-- Rawland. Not officially gone and may not officially go. But it's disassembled and in frame state only.
-- Tandem – we finally unloaded it. That was a hard one to let go of, but I did so knowing that there is a communal tandem solution in the pipeline.
-- RB-T coupled bike. The horror! Gone, but we’re all better for it. Really.

Liza/Maddie bikes
-          Liza’s XO-1 city bike conversion was a total and utter success, thanks in part to rack making with Pat and to the fact that the green is rad.
-          Maddie’s Elephant was her main go-to bike this year.
-          Pump track bikes exposed Maddie to some new rides – most notably, thes Intense BMX race bike, a highly-coveted bike among her friends in the neighborhood. She also has spent a fair bit of time on a clunky Redline BMX that kind of rules.
-          Next bike in the queue for Maddie is a righteous mountain bike. The used bike has been purchased, the bits gathered and mostly assembled… expect more here on that soon.

Advocacy and Stuff
2011 was the year of unwinding myself from Advocacy stuff. I grabbed Liza too. In March I finished with the Bicycle Advisory Board, which was a huge weight off my shoulders. My personal goal there when I joined 5 or so years ago was to work with Bob and co to get a damn Master Bike Plan. Nothing significant could happen with out it. Ever since that passed, I felt like attempting to scale the next peak there would just take more than I could give. It was great to be done with that.
There's a much bigger and a well-organized set of up and coming advocacy folk joining the fray to fight through this stuff now. With the passage of the Complete Street Ordinance, the game has been ratcheted up another huge notch. Well done to Kitty and Jon  on that -- for pushing and driving that huge coordinated effort to pass the ordinance.

We also handed off Pedals2People. We started that with friends 5 or so years ago and it was a great thing to do, but at some point we felt we needed to let go and see if we actually built something that could survive without us. Until we became involved in building up P2P we never could have appreciated the amount of effort it takes to create and sustain such an organization. Likely, had we known, we never would have attempted it. Such is the benefit of ignorance. Liza especially has spent a shitpile of time in the background holding up the P2P organization. Seeing her set her self free of this has been great. P2P is in great hands -- a new prez, a smart board, amazing volunteers, bad-ass shop employee, a great new spot, and a few thousand in the bank -- the foundation is there. It will be fun to sit back and see how it goes.

Unrelated to advocacy, but related to the overall effort of cutting back -- I wrote my last "Every Day Cyclist" column for OTM in December. Hank (Shallow Cogitations) will be picking that up for the new year. 

Experience and Riding.
  • Overall this year was marked by a frustrating level of weird health issues. The lung thing took me out for what seems like 1/2 a year in the early part of the year. Once I finally recovered from that, I got clogged. Shit. It's still with me as I mind my thin blood. By Feb or March or so I should be fully whole.
  • Pump track -- best bike thing that happened this year by a way long shot. It's a huge commitment for buddy Pat and his reluctance to continue hosting it is easy to understand. But we have a good alternative in the pipeline and a small and enthusiastic willing work crew to hopefully turn the alternative into a solid reality.
  • River hang pretty much defined my riding this summer. There's just everything up there -- road, trails, deep Nat'l Forest fun. I plan on rocking it crazy this summer.
  • Midnight Century was fun. It landed right in a window of wellness for me and I had a great time. 
  • I didn't do nearly the overnighters I wanted to do... mainly due to health issues. blech.
  • More overnighters
  • Faster Midnight Century time by 1/2 hour or so
  • Rock the Cat 4 CX races next year! Just one stinking top 5 finish please! (yes, that's rocking it)
  • Get Maddie mountain biking.
  • Most of August at the river with as much bike-riding friends and family as possible
  • Not be sick and lame all year!

Good year all!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

182 commutes

Get ready for the year-end roll up posts: "tried and liked," "year in review" and this one.

Here are the bikes I rode from my last 182 commutes to work. Basically -- this encompasses the calendar year 2011 of commutes. On a normal week, I ride to work M-Th. Friday is ride day. Friday-ride bikes are not noted here.

Here's a post from the last time I did this compilation in July 2010.

41 days - Elephant

This is a perfect commuter. It's super easy to just grab and go: integrated lights, fenders, rack. It's fast and nimble and is happy to oblige the trail-way-home on a whim.

This bike is being replaced by Elephant v2. More on that to come, but the elevator version: v2 will be pretty much the same, but with minor tweaks -- a tweak or two to satisfy Glen and a tweak or two to satisfy me.

The better news is that it looks like this v1 Elephant will become S&S'd a sort of communal travel bike. Stay tuned on that too.

39 days - Lyon "747"

This bike never gets the virtual ink it deserves on this blog. It's fast and wonderful and perfect handling. With integrated lights and fenders, it makes for a great fast commuter. I do not ride trails on this bike.

I put the soon-to-be-ubiquitous-on-most-of-my-bikes Campy 10 brifters (against 8 speed shimano/sram) on this bike since this picture was taken.

Since there's no rack on this bike, it turned out to be the one that forced me to discover that I'm more of a backback-person than a messenger bag-person.

This bike will be going on a diet this winter in preparation for more fast and long rides next spring and summer: the fenders and lights will go away, a lighter saddle and crankset will go on, and a tubular wheelset collecting dust in my garage will also go on it.

25 days -- MB-2
Last January.
In the winter months, this is the crap-weather go-to bike. Again: lights, full fenders + mud flap, and a rack. Platform pedals. Single, low-ass gear. With studded tires, I can pretty much trudge through anything on this bike.

In the summer -- I strip it down and put super light-race tires on it and treat it like a BMX bike. Super fun for cruising, beering, or easy trail rides.

23 days -- RB-T

Ah the soulful RB-T. Alas, how I wish you could remain by my side old friend. But the Legolas just beat you down handily.

Combined with an old cast-iron tractor seat, this once-proud frame will be demoted to a stool at the river.

The RB-T is just fun -- not so much on wet/rainy days -- but for any ride that has some dirt and trail potential, the RB-T always stood ready to rock. I broke it. I bent it. Glen beat and welded it back into shape a number of times. I considered selling it, but Glen said no way. Thus, it shall be stoolified.

21 days -- TIE: Rawland and Legolas
Jon on the Rawland.

Another retired bike. With the arrival of my mountain bike, the Rawland quickly became dustier. It also overlaps in function with my Elephant (for long dirt-road/forest exploration) and to some extent, the CX bikes.

I still dig the Rawland and I think I'll horde the frame for a year or so to make sure I'm sure I don't want to ride it anymore. The thing I miss the most about it is having a fat-tired, drop-barred trails bike that handles like a road bike. With the disc brakes on there, it's a special frame for sure. I may revive it some day when drop-bar hydraulic brakes are available.

As a commuter, shod with Hetres, the Rawland just begged taking the rough route every time.

As for the Legolas, it's pretty much all I've commuted on since getting it built-up a couple months ago. It's altered my thinking on OS tubing and even front-end handling a bit. It's fast, it's fun, it's super capable. As a commuter, it's impossible to take the paved way every time with this bike. I'm looking forward to racing it in next year's CX series.

9 days -- SH80

Just like in my last compilation, the SH80 falls nearly to the bottom of the heap -- this is a poor way to measure its usefulness. I only commute on the SH80 when I have a load to haul: P2P parts, t-shirts, etc. But with integrated lights and fenders and tons of cargo capacity, this bike is used for kid-hauling, grocery runs, and swap sessions on a regular basis.

3 days -- Salsa

Very rarely (3 days exactly), I get a notion to ride the mountain bike. On these days, it's because I want to take the long trail way home. I have big knobbies on it now so if I run into a big snow day this winter, I may give the Salsa a shot.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

High-value all-rounder sorta CX tires

Since my high-zooters finally blew up, I've been riding the WTB Interwolf 700-38 tires on my CX/Trails/commuter bike.

My buddy Alex gave me these tires a couple years ago. As I am wont to do, I favored the fancies and disregarded these lowly workhorses. Although, thinking on it, I did use these on a couple-day CDA forest exploration with no complaints. But other than that, these tires sat in the corner of the garage for over a year.

I really like them. For our non-muddy, slightly sandy, sometimes rooty and sharp-rocky trails, these tires really put out. I've had a handful of flats on them, but no pinch flats, which is pretty much unheard of for me when I trail ride on CX-type bikes, where my poor line-picking puts me in pinch flat land with regularity.

I run them both at 60 psi happily. Sometimes when I am doing all trails I'll squirt a bit of air out on the front to put me in the 50 psi neighborhood.

The knobbie profile is kind of perfect. It's grabby on the corners, which is what you want for banking in the thin-layer-of-sandy-over-hard-dirt of the HD trails. The same grabby corner knobbies slow me down a tad when cornering on pavement -- especially wet pavement.

And the center of the tire is flattish knobbies, which bite well at 60 psi on dirt and seem pretty benign on pavement. They roll surprisingly well on pavement. I commute on them all the time.

Kind of perfect.

December in Spokane.
Digging it.
These are not supple fancy squishy love bomb tires, but they're not awful either: a happy compromise for sure.

Come summer, I'll be back on my fancy white Grifo's, but for until then, I'm digging these.

Of course, like most rad bike things that I take a liking to, these tires appear to be no longer made, though still available until the stock runs out.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Found in a corner in Maddie's room

Garmin stalking

I mentioned the gps watch thing a while back. I've been tracking just about every ride I take. Expect a forthcoming boring-ass analysis soon.

But in the mean time, dig this. One feature of the Garmin Connect software is being able to explore other routes that people have uploaded (and made public) to the map set. It's pretty damn sweet. Default search is scoped by the view of the map that you focus on. But then you can filter by cycling or even a sub-filter: mountain bike.

I found this bitchin ride that "mtbmoose" posted recently: river trail, both sides for 90% of the ride. He hammers it too. I want to ride with that guy. Creepy right?

Well, I've ridden all of mtbmoose's route except for that little piece that from the Meenach bridge upriver to Sandifur bridge. The last time I tried that was probably 15 years ago. And I don't remember the specifics, but I do remember turning back. So mtbmoose's track is intriguing.
Historically significant bit of trail. This is at the end of 8th on HD trails. We used to come here in the 80's and ride this little track. It's probably one or two piles of dirt from being easily pumpable.

Jon, Tony, and I set off to figure it out this morning. It's slick and foggy and snowy and icy on the roads. But the trials are ok. Except for slippery roundish rocks which are often terrifying --  depending on the context of where one encounters them. The section of trail that mtnmoose exposed for us was full of those slick bastards and the trail was very uppy-downy-rollercoastery. So -- we did a lot of pushing, walking, slipping. It's worth checking out in the spring.

Dorkier by the week.
That helmet seemed cool in the catalog.
Tony has this odd thing when I take pictures. He makes me give him my phone so he can take pictures of me. I've tried to explain to him that that's not how it's supposed to work. But he doesn't get it. I'd be lying to say I don't feel obligated to post the pictures he takes of me.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Bike Hang. Bennidito's. Weds. 7:30

Title says it all.

Picture is gross. But also tells a story in its own gross way.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Snow-Fat bike v2

So the cheap fat-bike thing didn't really work out.

But Glen is always thinking... and he pondered this hack.

And I'll be a monkey's uncle. It's not as stupid as it looks. And it looks pretty stupid.
Seatpost shim. The weird-o frame takes a 29.4mm post.

Of course, I've not ridden it in the snow yet. But it's pretty easy riding: with the crazy-slack angles (further amplified by pushing the front of the bike a few inches skyward), and the tall bars.

It puts you right over the rear wheel and removes weight over the front wheel. So maybe. Just maybe, it will float, while the rear wheel does all the work. And if I can find a cheap (free) fatter tire for the back, I can go to about 2.5 there.

The weirdo frame also took a (surprise!) Italian-threaded bb. The only one Glen had laying around was a sweet titanium one. Nice!

And the biggest bonus here? And Joe2 called this as soon as Glen popped it out of the stand -- the bike is a wheelie machine. Like: just pedal and you can lift the front wheel.

More to come on this I'm sure.
The other fat tire will be homemade-studded by people that hang out in Glen's garage. I need to get the hardware for that. You should go hang out at Glen's garage sometime!

Beer #3

From the Dylan stash.

Stine, Glen, Liza, and I gave Beer #3 a taste yesterday.

It's "Gueuze Girardin."

When he gave it to me, Dylan introduced it with something like, "it kind of smells like a barnyard, but I'll be interested in what you think of it. Grace loves it." Grace is the wife of Dylan.

It's interesting. The following flavors were detected:
- Ripe cheese
- Arm pit
- Urine

And Liza detected a distinct "salami... or fermented meat after-taste. Like briny olives."

We were all perplexed. After Glen identified the "arm pit" flavor, he said, "but I keep drinking it..."

We're not sure what happened there.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Slavin Loop

Tony and Mike
I took a ride with Tony and Mike this morning. Tony showed me the Slavin Conservation Area. Joe and I went here years ago, but came at the site from the other end and sort of dead-ended on a trail and left.
I'm a dork.

Tony showed me a way into the area from the west side. We came at it from the dirt side of the White Road climb. My kind of ride -- lots of dirt trails and dirt roads. Of course, I had my super-watch on, so you can check out the route, my speed, and my heart rate here.

It was about 20F. Aside from a 3 or 4 mile descent on 195 back into town, which was damn cold, we kept moving and stayed mostly warm.

The hoar! The hoar!

With the cold came the frost. It was super pretty. Especially on the Slavin Conservation, where the hoar frost clung to everything and the ponds and small lakes were frozen sheer. I just learned about hoar frost today.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Review follow up: shoes, jacket, beer

DZR GMT-8 SPD-compatible sneakers
Original review here.
OTM review here.
Did I buy it? Yep

The upshot: good shoes. I'd buy them again. We're a solid 6 months into this shoe and it's holding up great. I'm pretty surprised actually. As noted in the OTM review, there is a bit of a steamy funk factor with these. But that's not really the fault of the shoe... you know what you're getting when you buy a canvas shoe. So if you bite on this one, pull the inserts out every couple days and air them out for best results.

Ibex Breakaway Hybrid 2
Initial review here.
Did I buy it? Nope. It was provided by Ibex for review.

The upshot: this is the best one yet. I really had to wait until it got nice and cold to make sure the jacket was suited for sub-freezing weather. It is.

It's lighter in feel than the older Hybrids, but the front of this jacket does a great job of blocking the cold wind. My commute in the morning is straight down hill for 4 miles. It was 17 F this morning on the way to work and as my face and fingers froze, my core was happy.
That's the shoulder-section of the jacket that I landed on. I washed the jacket and there's no trace of the wreck.

And just like the other Ibex stuff, this jacket is tough. I was wearing this jacket when I was Eberlized, which tore open my knee and scraped up my back to draw a bit of blood. There's zero impact to the jacket -- no rips or pilling or even a unstiched little thread. Crazy good stuff here.

This pricey-ass jacket is totally worth the money.

Sour beer #2
No prior reviews.
Did I buy it? Nope. Dylan gave it to me.

Dylan brought me a pile of super awesome sour beers a few weeks ago. Noted here.

The Russian River Supplication was the first one I tried, and it totally lived up to the hype. That's one of my all time favorites now. I have one bottle left and I'm not sure when I'm going to drink it.

The second beer from the Dylan stash that I tried is called "Monk Cafe Flemish Sour Ale."

The upshot: great beer. The sour is there, but it is a tad too fruity for me. These Flemish sour beers appear to be made in the same way: by mixing an older cask-aged beer with a younger fruitier beer. In this one the fruit is too aggressive for me, but it's still a great beer that I'd happily drink any day. It's just not the pure bliss that The Supplication and La Folie are for me.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

City bike

This is Glen's beer hang and commuter bike.

It's been hacked together over the last couple years. He bought the frame from P2P. The forks (Lyon) are from Alex. And the rack was one of the early Alex racks.

The stem is titanium to keep it all light.

Light is the new cheap BM jobber -- good enough. Bag is old Boeing tool bag with a zillion little pockets. Pretty stylin'.

The rear clearance is a little tight. 35mm Pasalas. He had to mount the brake on the inside to get that tire to spin.

I took these pictures on Thursday night.

Last night Glen fixed the rear clearance issue and sent me this pic. He might be able to wedge a fender in there now.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Oh boy. Here we go

I got a new heart rate monitor. It has a GPS built in. The free online Garmin software for it is just silly in it's radness and simpleness. I realize I'm coming way late to this party.

I'm sort of overwhelmed by the radness of it all, but let's start crunching some numbers.

Here's an easy way to start.

Dig this:

This is the data for my basic commute to work. Left column is my fast bike (747), right column is my new CX bike, the Legolas (with knobbies).

There's a lot there. But I think the highlighted bits are the most interesting.

First thing to look at is average heart rate: 155 bpm in both cases. So the engine is pretty similar on both bikes.

But average pace, moving speed, and best pace (pace is amount of time it takes to go 1 mile) show that I'm a bit faster on the 747.

This is the lightweight info. For the fun stuff, check out the mashup of map+elevation+speed+heartrate data. Here's my ride home today in fun format.

Glen says a Powertap is next, but that's really not interesting to me. In fact, I'd probably find that sort of depressing. The heart rate stuff has always been sort of interesting since I used one a few years ago to loose some weight -- it's a great forcing function to make sure you are getting good exercise on rides. Assuming you have a comfortable bike, riding 30, 40, 50 miles is not hard, but doing so at 150 bpm can be a challenge. The heart rate monitor forces that challenge.

The unit I'm using is the Garmin 110 watch. I liked the smaller women's size and it came with the HR strap. It does exactly what I want it to do: track routes, HR, and elevation. I don't care about bikey options like cadence. It cost a bit over $200.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

WIng Hang. Tomorrow night

The godfather: before the discovery of wings.

The godfather of hangs has called an emergency wing-hang session for tomorrow night.

Flaming Joe's on 29th at 8 pm. Tomorrow. (Weds)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday thankfulness ride

Get ready for some really crap pictures.
I consider myself a pretty thankful guy. I have a lot to be grateful for.

But as I sit here, post-BF-ride, sipping on perhaps one of the best beers I've ever had, I am feeling particularly thankful.

Best expressed, bulletily -- as most lists are:
  • The weather. What the F happened here? I've been watching wunderground all week. At best I was hoping for some slushy wet cold misery. It was cold when we left Rocket Market at 8:10, but it was approaching 40 already. And by the time we finished -- glorious: sun, clear, amazing, silly weather.

Jake, Gage, Jon, Kory, Geoff, Dylan, Joe2, Silly Weather
  • The BF turnout. Off the top, I missed Glen, Pat, Bill and Justin. Verily. And I wouldn't have minded seeing Ben, Wade, Nate, Steph, Hank, and a few others. But wow. We had: Coffee Joe, Joe2, Kory, Jake, Dylan, Gage, Geoff, Craig, The Eberlizer, and Chris. And me. That's 11. And I'm pretty sure I'm forgetting someone. What a great thing. I'm not a "big pack" riding guy, but this was great.
  • Spokane trails. I've carried on a lot about how lucky we are to have such great trails so close in. But with a bit of frozen-ness over damp, the trails were nice and ridable today. So that was a bonus.
  • Jake and his insane output. I'm actually not that thankful for that. But when Jake says: "there's another way up this [already hard, already too long] hill. It's a bit longer and harder, but it's fun..." that's where I should say, "Sounds great. Hey Dylan -- you should try that!" Instead, of course, I get all puffed up and what comes out of my mouth, is something like, "sounds great, let's do it." Chasing Jake and Dylan up the hard, long way up the hard long hill destroyed me early on. They shat me out the back 1/2 way up and I'm not sure I ever really caught my breath until our group was cut in half by a train.
Joe, Craig.

  • Trains. The scenario: the pack is at point A. Point B is about 100 yards away with a train track in the middle. Of course a train is coming. The pack sprints. All but 2 of the pack make it before heeding the panicky non-standard whistle blows from the train's engineer. It could have been longer, but it was thankfully long enough for us to get a proper break while waiting for the 2 smart ones that didn't dash in front of the oncoming freight train.
  • The Sun. This is a re-hash of bullet #1. But the weather got so good, it's worth reiterating.
  • Funerals. By the time we got to the 2nd part of the ride, we lost Jake, Coffee Joe, Craig, and The Eberlizer. We kind of lost Gage. But just for a bit. We climbed out of that hard sandy steep road across from People's Park and Gage, who was riding a single speed manfully and valiantly, had blown up. He was done. We said our good byes and limped to the cemetery, where thankfully, a funeral procession was just getting started. Being the super respectful lot we were, we took this opportunity to have another long rest while the procession pulled away.
Geoff, Dylan.
Finishing the Mega-Church section of the River trail.

  • Chris. As we swooped into the lower part of the cemetery, Chris asked where we were going into the trails -- he wanted to stop by and pay his respects to a dead friend and then catch up with us. The beauty of that deal is that my mom was buried, quite conveniently, just a few plots away. So we took a quick "paying respects" break. I'm thankful to say hi to mom on the day after Thanksgiving, where we sort of stumbled and mumbled our way through the 2nd year without her.



  • Ben, Ann, and the MortBorns: totally unrelated to riding. But TG worked for us this year thanks to great friends that took us in. All my life, I've been in the family gathering that takes in the akward family-less friends on Thanksgiving. Liza, Maddie, and I were the family-less nomads this year and we got hooked up. Including Thanksgiving leftovers... wow.
  • Thanksgiving leftovers. No commentary required.

  • Crazy good beer. I'm thankful for the Reno guy that tipped me off to the Russian River sour in the comments of this blog. Thanks Reno guy. That put me on the hunt for "Supplication."
  • Dylan. He's the guy that came over from Seattle to visit family. He came on this ride. He's a PBP'er and  CX'er and he's strong and super-nce and cool. Open up page 56 of the latest BQ and you'll see him hanging with the heavies in France. He's the guy with the beard. Anyway, he brought me a 6'er of rad sours. Including the Supplication, which I am enjoying immensely now.
He just keeps pushing.
And showing up.

  • Gage. After we bombed the cemetery trail, we re-grouped under TJ Meenach. The plan was to ride up the trail for a bit to loop the little bit of rad river trail back to the TJ Meenach. (I realize that only makes sense to about 14% of the people reading this). Before we started the climb, Gage said his goodbye's (again) and peeled off. At this point, we were down to Me, Kory, Chris, Geoff, Joe2, Dylan. After we did the loop, Geoff and Kory peeled off, while Dylan, Chris, Joe2 and I climbed up that brutal little bastard of a trail (I call it the Pat Rick trail) at the bottom of Doomsday. As we get to the tippy top and we are riding the trail overlooking the river, who shows up? It's Gage again. He had some slightly confusing-to-me story about how this came to be, but there he was again.
I'm thankful for more than that, but that's the top-of-mind list at the moment. I can't imagine anyone got through all of that....sorry so long!