Friday, April 29, 2011

Transportation Advisory Committee Members Needed

Really, I'm not trying to monopolize this blog this week, there's just a lot going on in transportation. And I wanted to spread the word about an opportunity for you to help determine the future of transportation in Spokane, whether it's bicycling or otherwise.

The Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) is a citizen group responsible for advising the SRTC Board on all SRTC activities. That means, as a member of the TAC, you would have input on which transportation projects to consider priority; which projects receive federal, state and local funding; the direction that transportation studies take; what kind of coffee SRTC should serve at meetings and lots more.

There's a ton of potential here folks, and all you have to do is show up once a month and read the meeting packet in advance. There's no pay, but you get rewarded with the satisfaction of knowing you're helping to shape local government. And occasional treats at the meetings.

So if that's something you're interested in, and you can make a commitment to meeting once a month, go to the SRTC website for more info on the TAC, and the application. Click the link, then scroll to the bottom of the page. You can do it.

Fort Ebey Bound

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Federal Highways Approves Green Bike Lanes

Here's some cool news from the government (and how often do you get anything exciting from the government?); the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has issued an Interim Approval for the use of green coloring in bike lanes, much like the one in this picture from San Francisco.

Citing multiple experiments that demonstrated positive operational effects for both bicycle riders and other road users, and no notable negative effects, this approval allows states to apply for approval to use coloring in bike lanes. This Interim Approval does not make the use of green-colored pavement mandatory however.

For more information on this decision, and the research that went into it, check out the post on the Spokane Regional Transportation Council blog.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Summer thoughts

As it snow/hails/rains buckets out side my window on this late April day, here are the bikey summer thoughts that are sustaining me:
  • Colville Nat'l Forest: I'm gonna rock that forest this summer. Rock it man! I'm going to dial in the river property set up and fill all gaps with Barstow hangs.

  • Quickie overnighters. For the itty-bitty gaps, I'm going after the S12O. We've identified a very good potential spot. It's only 13 miles away. This means that I can go on a whim, after I put Maddie to sleep. It also means we may have a great 1st-timer destination. 13 miles!! Anyone can do that.

  • Midnight Century. I'm pondering a tandem run on the course this year. We simply need better photos of this event. A good stoker would be able to push me up all the good hills AND get sweet photos (not of my ass of course).

  • Pump track building: Hopefully this phase will go quickly.

  • Pump track riding: I'm really looking forward to getting better at riding a mountain bike and I'm putting a lot of eggs (which represent skill building) in the pump track basket. (You know you have a bad metaphor if it requires parenthetical explanation.)

  • Early morning trail riding on the bluff. One of my favorite summer time happiness logs on the fire of radness is riding the Highdrive trails in shirtsleeves at 7 AM. Verily.

  • A few all day rides. This may be combined with the first bullet. There are a lot of great routes up to Barstow.

  • At least 3 proper S24O's.

  • At least one proper 2+ day bike camping event. Preferably in CDA forest. Preferably with Alex and co.
I'm curious -- what's sustaining you?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Riding again

The doctor gave me some misty juice. That's my slang for steroids in an inhaler. Twice a day I hit it. I'm on day 3. Someone in a comment mentioned the efficacy of 'roids. I'm a believer.

I took the SOS ride today and while I wasn't super strong, it didn't kill me either. There were a couple longer rests than normal and one impromptu, mid-climb wheeze-fest, but really, I'm way better than I was on Tuesday night coming home from (my *last*) BAB meeting where I nearly scared myself in fear of collapsing and dying.

So, back into the fray. I'm going to take it pretty easy this week. I'm going to enjoy the commute, no hard and fast hills. I'm on deck for a weekend in Seattle with Alex and Co. We're doing a version of this ride, but with base-camping and like 40 people.

Finally, I don't want to scoop Pat or anything, but I'm gonna. I'll just say this: the pump track is real. Shovels were wielded. A wheelbarrow was filled verily. A small berm was watered and tamped. And I'll be a monkey's uncle if Pat doesn't have a new bike the next time I see him. Seriously, next round is on me if he doesn't.

He visited Jake and his (Pat's) fate was sealed. He had a funny frantic look in his eye as he explained the change in design and the basic construction plan. But I've said too much. And it doesn't count as a scoop without pics. Right?

Lastly, lastly -- I'm going to do a bike hang at my house on a forthcoming Monday to be announced. I'll provide beer and food. Of course there's a catch.

My buddy Ben is running for City Council Prez. See link in the top-right portion of the gutter. I've been buddies with Ben since I was in second grade and he's a good egg. Actually, he's a great, great friend and he was also a founder of Pedals2People. In fact, P2P started with my ranting to Ben about how Spokane needed a community bike center. I was fired up, but Ben is the guy that pushed it to action and really catalyzed making it real. Ben does stuff.

Many of my bikey friends get all apolitical when I bring policy, advocacy, funding, etc shit up. In my opinion, being "non-political" is being political, you can't escape it. In this case, by ignoring the good guy that's running, you inadvertently help the crusty guy that's no friend to things we generally care about. There's more to evaluating candidates than bike stuff, but in my experience, the bike stuff is a good barometer of where a given candidate is on the "flat earth index." I just made that index up.

Anyway, the hang will be for Ben. Generally, folks are encouraged to pony up $25 donation, but it's not required and I won't be snotty or think less of you if you don't give him money, but that's the way these events typically work. Ben will talk. But ultimately, it's a bike hang, only bike nerds and their SO's should show up (doesn't mean you can't drive here you know).

So that's just a head's up to wrap your head around the idea. I get sort of sad when people accuse me of shilling for companies whose products I review here, but when it comes to political candidates, I'm a proud shilling bastard.  Stay tuned for a date on that.

Lugging around a chain tool pays off again

Pat packs one too.

for the historians.
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Friday, April 22, 2011

Waiting for Nutter Butters

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I got nothing

From an early-season Temple road attempt
Since I've not ridden a lick this week, I've not thought of anything. Zero in the brain. So nothing makes it here. Clearly, if you've read this blog enough, then you know that having content in the brain is barely a requirement. But really, I got nothing.

I'm off to the doctor today to see if he can help me breathe again.

I rode about 2 miles today. I'm slightly improving, but still wheezing on trivial climbs. Arg!

Bill and co are going on an overnighter tonight and I wish I was going.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Kicking it down a notch

A week from this coming weekend I'm flying to Alex-land for a bike-hang camping weekend. There will be much riding and frivolity.

But I'm still battling bronchitis. Yesterday's commute home sucked, not just because it was snowing, but also because I was running late to pick up Maddie, so I pushed harder than I probably should have.

The fact is: I need to chill.

Glen's advice: wrap up in a blanket and don't move for 3 days.

Liza's advice: rest and no beers(!! as-if!)

Aside from yesterday and a particularly crappy ride on Saturday, I've been taking it easy for the last week or two: just commuting and the occasional trail ride. But riding is hard and breathing is pretty labored.

So now, it's time to get serious if I want to enjoy my weekend with Alex.

Liza says she'll drive me to work too. I'm so soft.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Spring snow

I was not prepared for this.
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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Northerly pre-func

First off. And totally un-related to the barely-bike-related post to follow.

Smarties should be able to figure out what the figuring is all about in this pic:


Maddie and I went up to the river property to take stock. We came back with a solid work item.

But first, the frog:

And the junk:

My dad was a junk collector. Actually, by Ferry County standards, his junk collection is child's play. In any case, I think he's got a lot of cool junk. A forest fire fired up around his land up there a couple years ago and really did a bang up job of separating the good junk from the excellent junk. Only cast-iron-excellent junk is left. In fact, I found an old cast-iron tractor seat in the junk up there. I'd like Glen to make me a chair out of it. Perhaps he'd take some nice cast-junk in trade.

Maddie found a stack of old cast-iron pans.

So here's the bummer --
See that right-angle behind the toilet.

The "fix" was to by-pass the hot-water heater so you could turn off the heater while providing water for the toilet. This is so not bike-related.


This non-bikey plumbing funk is in a little shed. It's the proper toilet and shower up at the property on the river. This proper plumbing is a big reason that the river hang works for mulitple days for Liza.

There's a lot of back story here. Dad had this dialed in so that it didn't blow up during the winter freeze. Last summer, some guy "fixed it" by re-plumbinging it. He's from Seattle. Nothing wrong with that, but he clearly didn't appreciate the "freeze" part of the equation and the plumbing blew up.

This is the work item.

I get what needs to happen, and I'm going to plumb it like my dad had it: with copper and running the pipes over head so that when you shut the water off and drain them, they drain. No sharp corners with PVC. But I'm a sucky plumber.


More non-bikey, but the headstone went in and I'm pretty sure this is where I want to be planted too.
Room with a view.
(sorry, couldn't resist the cliche there)

The bike part of this deal is that this river property is ideally located for serious fun. Great road riding -- with a two-pass perfect century out the door. And of course, great forest road, Nat'l Forest exploration also out of the back door.

And now, there's a new local brewery: Northern Ales.

This property screams for a cyclecross event...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Breathing and other stuff

I wouldn't mind having one of these.
Every bike shop should have one of these on their counter.
My bronchitis is slowly going away.

It's a weird feeling to be breathing super hard and not getting the normal amount of oxygen. I'd say nearly a scary feeling.

On the wanker-gear-head front, I feel the need to give two props and a potential prop.

#1 prop. Those f'ing tires. I did the SOS ride on those tires last week. I've tooled around town on them. They're far and away the best all-rounders ever that have been. Ever. I am going to become heavily invested and super charged in my opinion that these are the best all-rounders ever. That means my judgement will be clouded to the potential for other tires. Further, if I were king of the world, I'd subsidize the shite out of these tires and make them available in 559x45 and 584 x 42 sizes.  People would have two choices: this tire, or some bullet proof, non-flat-able turd tire.

#2 prop. Those f'ing shorts. Dig 'em. They're comfy. They're easy. But they may be a bit too cool for school. All the same, I don't plan on taking them off until about October.

Potential Prop: The people that handle PR for Pearl Izumi sent me two pairs of shoes: the X-Alp Seek III WRX and the X-Alp Elite. I asked for "normal" looking shoes. I'm on the hunt for a replacement for the super, rad, but-of-course-no-longer-made-because-Shimano-hates-me Shimano MT-60. The PI X-Alp Elite was horrid in the "normal" looking department, but looks very promising for the cyclocross-racing department.

The X-Alp Seek III is dorky looking, but it's really growing on me. The basics: it fits well, it's lace up, it's not too flashy (though I'd loose the red bits and tone down the reflective bits), it has a nice rubber bit over the toe to keep out the super cold, it's water resistant, and it's comfy enough to walk around in.

But the bit that made me smile is the lace-solution. On all other laced bike shoes I've worn (the MT-60, Chrome, and Keen Austin), there's a little strap to stuff the laces under. Either the strap is crazy tight and is therefore too much fussing to use or it's loosey-goosey and doesn't hold the lace. The PI shoe, however, has a little pouch at the top of the tongue to shove the laces into. Nice. Can you believe how f'ing trivial I can be? That's the killer feature man!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Clear and warm

I have bronchitis. Yesterday's ride home required some walking.
Today is a car day.
This is the first time I've driven to the office in the last 2 years.
I'm hoping my day of rest + antibiotics will make me good for a quick trail ride this evening.
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Monday, April 11, 2011

Sweet air

Warning. Very tenuous bike content.
Maddie and her buddy made a little ramp jumper thing. I was surprised by how much vertical she got with it.

Oh. She's so ripe for a pump track. (Or just track-track, I guess).

No pressure. Just sayin'.

Like I said, pretty tenuous bikewise.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Review: CRKT Ripple pocket knife

A few months ago, I reviewed a Gerber pocket knife. While I liked the knife generally, I was frustrated with how fragile it was. In the comments for that review, one of suggestion was to check out the CRKT M-16 or M-21. I sent e-mail to the CRKT folks and they promptly sent me an M-21 for review.

I didn't like the M-21. It's a sweet knife, but bigger and heavier than I need for a daily driver. So I sent it back and they suggested the Ripple, which is lighter and slender-er. And blue.

It was still slightly bigger and heavier than I was looking for, but after 4 months of using it daily (check out the Gerber review for more details on how I use my knives), it's heftiness feels right to me. It's like riding a bike with a different geometry than you're used to: weird for a few feet, then you settle into it.

Here's what I like:
  • Bearings. In a knife! I'm a sucker for bearings, so easy points there. The bearings are embedded into a little machined race in the blade. I've never felt such smooth action on a pocket knife. I'm no expert and I've only flicked open a couple dozen pocket knives, but this one beats them all in terms of smooth and fast action. I guess there's a technical advantage to quick flipping in say, street fighting or something, but generally, it's just rad. It's well-made and it's nice to use a well-made tool as often as I use my knife.
  • It's solid -- I like to throw my knife to stick into poles/trees etc. I open beers with the non-business side. I'm not gentle with knives. It's not really fair to compare the $125 Ripple to the $20 Gerber, but I'm gonna: 4 months was the end of life for most of my Gerbers. After 4 months, the CRKT shows almost no sign of wear and nothing is wiggly or loosey-goosey.
  • Sharp. The blade is hard. There's some serious high-zoot steel going on with the blade. Another unfair comparison to $20 Gerber: there is nothing to compare in this department. I cut food, tubes, wood. I use the little saw bit of the blade to hack through all sorts of stuff. There are no dents or chips in the blade. It's still actually sharp.
  • I like the size. Having a bit more blade and a handle that fills the palm of your hand really makes the knife more useful in that "tool" way.
The only thing I'd look to change would be to see how a composite body would work with this blade. As I mentioned, I've come to appreciate the heft, and it's really minor, especially compared to the M-21 they first sent me, but I'd like to see what this knife feels like a bit lighter and I wouldn't mess with the blade or the bearings.

In the end, this is a fantastic knife and I look forward to using it for years.

The lesson here is that I'm thinking that $125 knife that you use every day is worth spending $125 on if it's solid. Note how many times I used the word "tool" here.

I run across my old busted Gerbers all the time. When I pick them up now, they feel toy-ish. I don't think I would've spent $125 on this knife if the folks at CRKT didn't send it to me. I would've kept buying $20 shit knives forever. And that's stupid.

So, call me a shill if you will, but if you use a knife daily, and it's a shit knife, my advice is to go and spend the money on a nice knife.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

X0-1 rack done

While I was away last week, Pat finished the clean up work and had the rack powder coated.

It looks great. Fits good. There's a tiny gap on the front fender mount, but I filled it with an M5 nut and it bothers me now not one whit.

Liza just got back from a trip to the grocery store, with one big Ortlieb and one small Ortlieb on the rack. Probably about 30 pounds of stuff. No issues.

This is a cool design. The weight is mainly supported by the stays to the rear fork drop outs, while the tie-ins to the fender keep the rack from rotating. There are no struts to the seat stay.

We're calling Liza's bike done for now. Though, now that she's shifting the front chain rings with a friction shifter, we may put an older derailleur on there so she can carry a second water bottle.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Transportation Plans You'll Want To Take A Look At

Are us 'common folk' still allowed to post on here John? Well I am, because this is important.

Spokane Regional Transportation Council is in the process of wrapping up a couple projects. It’s been a year, but we’re finally ready for you to look over the reports from the Spokane Transportation Vision Project and the West Plains-Spokane International Airport (WP-SIA) Study and let us know if we got it right.

The Transportation Vision Project was an effort to develop a long-term vision and implementation plan for transportation across the region for the next 30-50 years. We talked to the public extensively for this project, and a lot of what we heard was a need and desire for additional modes of transportation, such as better walking and bicycling facilities and public transit options.

That feedback is reflected in the draft project report at on the Vision Project website.
Take a look to make sure we didn’t miss anything that’s a priority for you. You have until May 8 to submit comments.

We’re also looking for comments regarding the WP-SIA Study report. It’s available online at at There's a link on the home page. The WP-SIA Study was initiated to address the transportation needs of the West Plains. Input received from the public during the study raised concerns regarding safety and the need for multi-modal transportation options within the West Plains. The study report contains public transit and bike/pedestrian recommendations as well as a list of roadway alternatives and recommendations for the study area.

The public comment period for that study runs until April 27.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Lovely wife astride a giant bike

I think it actually was a Giant. With 3-piece cranks and everything.

Way more functional than the ancient, chain-throwing rusty Schwinn that I rented in Oceanside for the first half of the week.

The cruiser-bike deal here in SoCal is kinda crazy. There are some who appear to transition well between the various modes of acceptable bikeways: the sidewalk, the multi-use paths, and the streets.

But a lot of cruiser traffic appears to be newer users, who make pedestrian-rooted decisions, and young men who attempt to maintain thier too-fast sidewalk speeds.

Both of these last two user groups provide unlimited entertainment for me, especially around the busy intersections on the multi-use path that runs along Pacific Beach.
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Monday, April 4, 2011

and they're normal looking

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Game-changer? Hurley Lowrider Phantom

These are surfer shorts.
Super-fast drying.
Optimized for commando deployment (w/out sewn-in skivies).
Just the right length.
Mayhaps (props to TS for usage here) the perfect daily driver?
Only time will tell.
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