Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Paring down: the bag deal

Many bags. From top left: Chrome, Banjo, Timbuktu,
 REI Flash, Ortlieb, Maddie (not a bag), Timbuktu blue.

Wow. Shoes and bags. Not to be sexist (which is what you say right before a sexist remark), but I'm like a girl in the Shoe and Bag department.

I'm not counting the on-bike bags here (of which I use 6 on a regular basis: banana bag, small Ortlieb panniers, big Ortlieb panniers, bucket panniers, Ostrich, and Swift). I'm just talking about on-John bags. The kind you wear. And I have too many.

So I'm going to get out of the messenger bag business. If I'm going to wear my bag, I prefer a back pack. It's simple, centered, and non-fussy. Messenger bags have a certain cool factor for sure and they're nice for basic flat loads. But backpacks just work better for me.

I've had a bunch of these messenger bags for years and I've used them a lot. But the two bags I routinely go for are the Ortlieb backpack and the REI modified-Flash.

Me. Being awesome in the Ortlieb backpack.
Which is all it takes (to be awesome)!
Photo by Sarah Sirott the Great.
For a pic of the actual backpack, it's the silver one in
the first picture above.

I love the Ortlieb: it's huge, it's waterproof. It has funny little padded pads on the back that make it less sweaty. It has a wrist strap and a chest strap and a key holder. It's a great bag. Those Ortlieb designers really get it.

BUT I don't like the velcro closure. It should be a big fat buckle. I may modify that someday, but for now, I can live with it.

The REI (modified) Flash is a great bag. It's super light. It has provisions for a water bladder. With my ultra-super-reflecto modifications and rear pockets, it makes a great Midnight Century bag.

So, the messenger bags are out. Maddie is keeping the blue one, but the other 3 are outta here.

Hare-brained is off the table. Nothing to see here

All the logicians came out in force on my last great idea. (Thanks for backing my plan though, Cave and Christopher).

All that crazy rational thought did sway me. To wit: for the big ride, I'm going to take the Rawland with the Quasi's.

The two main bits of logic that turned me this way:

-- To paraphrase Alex, "you'll be climbing 3000 feet of pavement; do you really think those tires are going to slow you down much?" (or for that matter the bike -- which is really the turd in the equation compared to the whippy little RB-T).

--To paraphrase a discussion with Pat last night: "that ride is all about the descent: optimize for that."

So that means wearing Quasi's-- I love the cush and I need the knobbies to really jam through the turns. And if I'm wearing Quasi's and looking to run it hot the whole way down, I want to be on the Rawland -- so I don't have to worry about being as "light" in my riding as I would with the Elephant on such a descent.

Also, with the Rawland I can bunnyhop and miss my line with confidence. And if I really miss my line and blow up, the Rawland will smash happily into trees, rocks, logs with nary a worry in it's giant oversized and thick-ass tubing.
Elephant will be perfect for the dirt road river explorations. Like this.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Another hare-brained idea

Pat Rick. On this morning's SOS ride.
 He's not hare-brained.
I plan on taking this ride next Saturday or Sunday.

As far as Nat'l Forest rides go, it's sort of an odd duck. It's a hybrid ride: the first half is paved and all climb to the top of Sherman Pass. The second half is all dirt. Most of the second half (I'm thinking about 25 miles or so) is dirt road descent.

The dirt part has a lot of different surfaces: nicely graded bits, super smooth shady bits, rocky off-cambery sections. There are random mud holes, wood chunks, and fallen rocks along the way that make for wonderful split-second decision making (ride over it? go around? bunny hop?)

Visual foreshadowing.
A sophisticated literary device.
So that's the context for the hare-brained idea. Normally, I take my Rawland for National Forest rides. With big fat 58mm Quasi-Moto tires, the descent part of the ride is just fun; you don't really have to do the micro-line picking. Generally: point and go and ease into the sharp turns.

The climbing part of the deal though is a bit more of a chore. Especially on paved roads. The Rawland is a beefy bike and as much as those Quasi's will pretty much out-roll any other knobbie within 10mm width, they're still pretty turdy for 25+ miles of paved road climbing.

Enter. The CX tubulars on the beloved hacked-to-hell-RB-T.

What's not to love? This bike is so rad.
That's the hare-brained idea. I can run these bad boys at 60 psi for the climb, then drop them to about 40 psi for the descent. I'll have to be a hair nit pickier and a tad slower on the bombing sections than I would on the Rawland, but not  by a huge margin.

I have one spare. And if shit really goes north, I have a sewing and patch kit. But really, the flats I would worry about as I bomb dirt roads on 34mm tires would be of the pinch variety. The dreaded snake-bite potential drops a shitload with tubular tires. You with me here?

Phone-cam doesn't really capture the pretty violet flowers.
This is from the middle trail on the HD trails.

I may have hit on something here! I've been riding these tires around the bluff for a the last couple days and they're pretty much all-that in the corning and fast department. And on pavement, they're good enough. I wouldn't want to lean into hard fast paved turns with them on a rainy day -- but for getting up hills, this set up is a good one.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sat pics

Joe and I did  a 5AM trail ride. He did a superman over his bars. Sweet air.

Then Maddie and I found trails to breakfast.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Harbinger of radness

Mid-day pictures

Justin and I rode the middle chunk of the Midnight Century this morning.

My mouth.

When I got home, Liza and I went through all the tubes hanging in the garage.

We checked them for holes. Patched the holey ones. Tossed the unfixables.

Then we rolled and sorted the keepers. 26s on the left. 20's in the middle. 700's on the right.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Spokane Summer Parkways

IF you are a cyclist
AND you live in Spokane
AND you happen to live under a rock
THEN prepare to be shocked and surprised with this news:

This week is the first installment of the 3-part event, Summer Parkways. This Wednesday the first installment will be in our neighborhood. The course will go around Comstock and Manito neighborhoods. (Map here.)

My people are going to be on Post Street. Somewhere between 23rd and 27th. I'm guessing 26th Ave. My people, of course, are the Pedals2People folk.

Liza went and bought a jump rope and chalk. The plan is to do some jump roping, clearly. It's a long rope, so doubles and maybe triples will work.

The chalk is to write essays on the street. The theme: "Why I like to ride my bike." Liza is, by training, a junior high English teacher. So that's the back story there.

I would love a wheelie lesson. God, I'd love it if some super wheelie-popping expert showed up at our P2P area on Weds night and gave wheelie-popping lessons.

Also, if you've been to our house before, then you are invited to come again. At 5pm this Wednesday for pre-ride beers and burgers.

The bike that just keeps on giving

I love every thing about this hacked beauty. Well, except for that sorry-assed, ballsack-looking seat bag.
I shall commute on this bike tomorrow and suffer mightily on the homeward bound trails. Oh verily.

Back again!

I finally went to a pulmonologist to get to the bottom of my breathing. I have post-viral bronchitis [can't remember this word] disease. Yes. "disease." There are two fixes to this disease: time or drugs. I opted for the drugs. It's a twice-a-day-puffer. It's been 4 days and my lungs are working again. No more wheeze.

Now the reason I can't climb hills is just because I've been sitting around drinking beer for the last 2 months. No more blaming the lungs. Alas, I've gained nearly 10 pounds. I'm just out of shape now. But I got lungs baby!

And the Midnight Century is a month or so away, so I have a goal too. I'd love to give a run in under 8 hours. Best I've done is 8:15.

In the old days, when I was a youngster, I'd go on a strict no-beer diet. That's not wise. My beer intake will need to be reduced a bit, but the lynch pin to any good fitness plans is obvious to any cyclist: hills.

More hills. (Bill, if you're reading this, do not take this as an invitation for Tuesday mornings torture sessions. Give me a month, at least.)

So: start by waking up and riding the trails. I did that this morning and I was embarrassed for myself in my lame slow panting painful crappiness.

Ramp up the commute: take the long way home every day. Just add a couple miles and make sure there's a good climb in there. I'm looking for slow-steady climbing here. Maybe swing through downtown and take Cedar/Highdrive to Bernard.

Throw in a couple trail rides during the week: short, fast, hard.

At least one mileage ride per week. Start with 50 this week, ramp it up over the month to 120 or so by the end of the month.

This should also mean, maybe, that I'll actually do some blog posts about riding! Yow!

Sunday, June 19, 2011


I meant to post this on Friday. There's a story here. Too long for mobile post treatment.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pointer to a post

I almost never do this.

But this post is definitely one of the top-10 bike blog posts of all time.

Thanks to Andre for pointing it out. (He's the guy on the left in this picture.)


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Trail ride #2

Early morning ride. Maddie did the "coaster run" from Bernard to 25th.
She had one minor tumble down the side, but she's still enthused.
It may be time for some component changes on the Elephant.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

As Seen From A Bike

You know how you hate to pass up free stuff?

Sometimes you just have to steel yourself.

Better stem length

Much better. Swapped a 120mm for a 90mm stem.

Dig our Virgin Mary stump. I'm still waiting for the tears to flow.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

River bike

I want a basic bike to keep at the river place.

The Shogun saves the day once again.

Once winter comes, it will come back to Spokane and go back to ice bike mode (fixed + studs).

I swapped out the drops for Origin8 Space Bars, which are getting a lot of play these days. I have them on the cycle truck and the MB2. They're a great no fuss, do-all, short-haul bar. I need a shorter stem for the this implementation though.
This is the "before" picture.

I put v-brakes on it. Super easy those vbrakes. They're hard not to love. Simple, cheap, effective. Pick 3.

I took the fenders off and swapped out the Pasalas with the WTB semi knob fatties. They're like 35mm and good at 60 psi for just about any dirt I'll be encountering.

I found this tube in the front wheel. Patch on a patch. I swore that chicanery off exactly one year ago today (weird).  But, since they've held for a year, clearly the patch job is working, so I stuffed the tube back in thte tire.

I put a 18 tooth freewheel on the "free" side of the Surly hub. I'm rolling 42x18 which is ok for tooling around the river neighborhood. I swapped out SPDs for platforms.

Finally, I put the Tubus Fly rack on there for the buckets. Or maybe I'll strap a milk crate on there, Ferry County style. We'll see how that evolves.

Hmm. Note the similarity to the MB-2.