Thursday, May 31, 2012

Past bikes - bike #9

Good lord. This is painful to look at. Almost (but not quite) as bad as seeing my senior picture.
 In 2003, my interest in riding began turning into an obsession. I had been riding that crap Giant mountain bike and I was sticking to a diet that I invented and I lost like 30 pounds in a couple months. I was into the biking part. I was still smoking too much, but that would cease soon.

I rode my mountain bike to work a couple times. I was totally sick of driving and hated the bookends of my workdays which involved sitting in my truck in gridlock traffic and smoking. It just sucked. I was about 40 minutes to work and about an hour on the way home. Ugh.

So my commute consisted of bussing my bike for about 15 miles and then riding for about 10 miles. This took me about 1.5 hours each way. So I wasn't saving any time, but the what was the shittiest part of my day became one of the highlights -- even when it was raining, which was frequently.

So, I wanted a more suitable bike. I also wanted a bike I could tour on. My plan was to do the Iron Horse trail across Washington in the summer of 2003.

I went to my LBS (a mere 15 miles away in Woodinville) and he set me up with a Giant touring bike. I asked him to swap out the drops for mountain bars and I was golden. I look at that bike now and just see failure. It's your basic big-bike maker "touring" bike: with huge road racing gearing (but with a triple!), no room for serious rubber, and silly ass compact frame.

But at the time, it was amazing. My first commute to work on that bike was night and day difference from the turdy crappy-shocked mountain bike I had been lumping to work on.

I ended up taking the Giant on the cross state tour. It was my first tour. Here's my pre-blog post on it. And the first for the other two guys that were with me. I think that's a great way to do a first tour. It was super fun and it was super hard. The stuff that was hard about it (flats, broken spoke, stupid long days, not enough water, etc) is all stuff now that is obvious. I guess screwing everything up is what makes it obvious.

Anyway, the Giant was not a great bike. The disc brakes were awful, the ridiculously narrow 32 mm tires (supporting 250 pound me + way too much gear, all loaded in the back) were not up to the task of the rocky and sandy paths of the trail on the east side of the state. It was ridiculously undersized. And the turd-ass aluminum frame was not too "forgiving" as the bike mags say.

Right after the tour, when my hands went numb from having no options -- I put some mustache bars on the bike. I remember thinking I liked them. Or wanting to like them. Most people that try mustache bars seem to go through this: they're freaking cool looking and on paper they seem perfect. But they just don't work for non-trivial distances.

At this point I had discovered Bridgestone and the iBOB list. Things just went haywire from there. This bike was short for my world. I had my hopes pinned on an XO-1.

I ended up bringing this Giant to Recycled Cycles, where they gave me either $600 or $800 store credit. Back then, before Ebay really took off,  Recycled Cycles had great stuff.

More on that for Bike #10 and #12.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Weds night mountain bike race report

Damn! This race stuff is just frustrating. Tonight, I had the best race so far this year. I had only made one dumb move and I had kept on the wheel of a fast woman for the whole second lap. The race ends in a long flat/mild descent, which is perfect for big ass turds like me: I can hammer that shit out. And that was my plan: not to pass the woman who I paced, but to make sure I wasn't passed. The closest guy was about 5-10 seconds out and he was the same guy I went back and forth with last week.

Then I flatted. *#)(&^$#! It was a pinch flat from running too low and being lazy with my line.

So I ran it in and watched in frustrated angst as a bunch of people passed me. Here's the stack rank. Had I not flatted, I would've been 26th. But instead, I was 40th. Errrrg. Coulda woulda shoulda.

Here's the Garmin track: at 42:10 I flatted. My speed went from 21 mph to 6 mph for the last 1/2 mile. And I'm a suck runner.

Why oh why why? do I care so much? I wish I didn't, but I do. Oh the frustration is hard to verbalize.

So next week is my week: no mechanicals, no dumb moves. Watch out Cat 4 Master dudes! I'm coming after you!

The good side of the night (aside from winning a pound of coffee and quaffing a few beers) was stopping at the Dwight Merkel BMX park on the way home. I got a ride from Glen and so he was in control. Suits me: I took a couple laps on a borrowed bike and of course dug it.

So that's the new Weds night thing: after mountain bike racing and beers, we're going to do hot laps at the BMX track. Can life get any better?

I forgot my phone so no pics. Sorry.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

First river run o '12

It's gonna be a great summer. har har har. <-super nerd reference. (starting off strong!)

That's Chewelah in the distance.
I've pretty much nailed the chill route to Kettle Falls. It's a 95 mile run and about 6 miles of it is on 395. All of the rest of it is on back roads: paved, chip seal, gravel, and double track. In order to get a beer in before meeting Liza and Maddie, I had to make up some time on Friday. So, I did an additional 10 miles of 395. And 395 ain't so bad if you have some fresh "This American Life." Otherwise, I ride those back roads in silence.

I suck at pictures. The hope is to capture a great thing or moment or feeling and my pictures never do. But click for big and check out the shadow work on the side of that house. Pat, that means you!

Aside from some mega wind, the day was perfect for riding. I loaded up a new-to-me route between Loon Lake and Chewelah on my GPS. My bike-mount GPS is being a piece of crap: the maps never work anymore and as an added bonus, it reboots intermittently and randomly. Errg.

Dig the name of this road. It suits the bike. I emailed this to Jan.

Anyway, if you want to see where I went -- the first track of the trip is here. Second is here. If you want to make your own routes from gmap-pedometer, Loon to Chew is here. Chew to Kettle Falls is here.

First marshmallows of the year were promising. Maddie has two new marshmallow-related growth spurts: 1) she's more patient and waits for the brown. 2) she cares when she has melted marshmallow and the attendant dirt on her face.

Yearly plumbing fussery was done. A new twist this year: someone stole two bits of hose. What the hey? See that threaded bit there by the red handle. That's the "in" that is supposed to have a hose connected to that little blue bit there on the tank. The hose on the toilet was missing too. Frickin weird.

That 1/2 monster-dog there is the Bratwurst Chili dog at Northern Ales. With kraut, chili, cheese, horse radish, and Tabasco. That'll do.

And that would be your basic Northern Ales IPA overlooking a full Kettle River. Word.

Liza's Rock. It's hard to imagine a better river bike. Maybe if it had a dyno light set up for the late night Boyd's run.

Junk Food Store run.

Maddie is rocking the Miami. She's pretty useful with that as the main hauler of everything.

Snake meet Maddie.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Grouch Lager

The perfect summer post-ride beer.

Goal: Northern Ales

Kettle Falls, that is.
There is solid headwind attempting to thwart my plans. But I know the protected routes.
This little gem of double track connects some county roads in between Loon Lake and Chewelah. And it is wind free.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Past bikes - bikes #7 and #8

My biggest (and only) bikeless gap was between about 1997 and 1998.

In 1998 I got a fancy job and wanted to commute to work. So I bought a Diamond Back road bike. I remember knowing nothing about a road bike, but I think I felt some brand loyalty to Diamond Back, which I look at now as pretty misguided: both the concept of brand loyalty, and especially to a bike like Diamond Back.

Anyway. It was $400. It sucked. I think I commuted to work on it twice. It was uncomfortable in all ways, had tiny narrow wheels, and I can't remember anything good about it.

Then it sat until I sold it a year or so later when I bought Bike #8: a Giant mountain bike. With shocks.

This bike ruined me for shocks for years and years. What a miserable turd.

It sat for a year or two in my garage as I gained tons of weight and stressed out at work.

By the time I started really riding it, I weighed about 300 pounds. I rode it every morning at 5:30 am for about 6 months. In my memory, it seemed like it was pissing down rain every single morning. I really enjoyed these rides in the dark rain. As sort of miserable as they were, they reminded me why I dug riding bikes and being outside and how stupid my daily life had become: all cooped up in my car ride to my office at work. These early morning rides slowly transformed me into a cyclist. At some point, on one of these early morning rides, I decided to start commuting the 25 or so miles to work so that I could attempt a cross-state tour.

That's what led to Bike #9....

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Weds night race

We did the 24 hour loop tonight. It was hard. The numbers:
I learned about race signage. There was a place on the race where a sign with 3 arrows pointed one way and a sign with 1 arrow pointed another. I didn't know what it meant so I followed the guy in front of me. As it turns out the 3 arrows is the fast, more technical, way down the hill. The 1 arrow was the slow, windy way down the hill. The guy I followed took the 1-arrow-way. Damn.

About 5 people that I painfully and laboriously passed blew down the fast way. I was only able to catch 3 of them. I found that rather frustrating, but maybe the 1 arrow guy save my bacon by leading me down the slow way.

The new-to-me bike needs a bit of work -- especially on the front shifting and maybe some bar/reach stuff. But generally, it's good.

Stack rank.

This year, the Weds Night Mountain Bike series also includes a run. Liza ran her second race tonight. She's determined not to treat it as a race, but she is clearly having a good time. The course for the runners was not marked as well. They got lost. Here's Liza's stack ranking.

Past bikes - bike #6

Diamond Back Apex: Pretty much your basic 1993 entry-level mountain bike. With funny bull-like curved bars (think bar-ends but with a nice bend). I was a freshman in college and of course I had a new shiny credit card. So I bought my roommate and me brand new mountain bikes. Whooop!

I bought them at North Division Bikes. From Michael. He doesn't remember.

Historical note: there was a bike shop on 2nd and Lincoln called, I think "Bike Works," with a funny looking Bridgestone called an XO-1 as I was hunting for a bike. It was expensive and weird. But I did buy Jobst Brandt's wheel book there, which was mostly beyond me.

Anyway the Apex was my bike all through college. My main memory of this bike was the daily ritual when I got home from school at about 2pm. I'd fire up. Pound a beer or two. Then attempt the straight-down way off the bluff from Brownes Addition to the creek below. About twice a week I'd ride the river trail out to Bowl and Pitcher. Then waiting tables or cooking at about 5PM. Then beers/homework, then bed. Great schedule.
Me. 1994?
On the mighty Apex.
Quite possibly the poorest quality picture I've ever put on this blog.

After college, this bike went with me to Portland, where I lived with friends for about 6 months. Then when we all moved to Seattle, this bike took up a non-insignificant portion of our "living room" in our shared 1 bedroom apartment on Capital Hill. When I eventually moved back to Spokane, this bike came with me and was promptly ripped off from the backyard of a friend's house.

Most memorable wreck: charging around the corner on the rocky/shale-infested/sharp-basalt section of the west approach to the B&P bridge. As I came around the corner, barely in control, a little kid emerged. As much as I wanted to mow him down, my better instincts sent me off the trail: bouncing off the pointy rocks down the side of the hill. I hurt everywhere and I dented the chain stay verily. So I was a bit annoyed when the dad gave me the stink eye as he picked up his son and marched away. That section happens to be a "no bike zone" now. Sorry?

25th & HD

Until 9 am today. Liza made her famous flourless p-butt cookies. Come and eat them before I do.

Sent from my phone.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Review: Panaracer Pasela

This originally appeared in the March issue of Out There Monthly.
I paid for these tires. I'm a big Pasela fan. Especially for 26" wheels.

CYCLISTS THAT BUY TIRES for the first time are often shocked at how expensive bike tires can be. It’s easy to spend $60+ on a single bike tire. The cost of a bike tire can be attributed to how it’s made, what it’s made of, and who makes it.

“Threads per inch” (TPI) is often mentioned when people talk about tires. A higher TPI can suggest a higher quality tire, but in practice, it usually doesn’t.

In bike tire-speak, a “thread” in this context is the fabric under the rubber tread. The fabric threads are layered over each other to form the basic shape of the tire before the rubber layer (tread) is added. Each layer of fabric is a “casing.”

For tires with a single casing, a higher thread count indicates a higher-quality and likely better-performing tire. Although often quoted, TPI is not a very helpful indicator of tire quality since some tire manufacturers advertise the sum of all TPI across multiple layers of casing to inflate their TPI number. So, the first lesson of tire-buying, especially for commuter tires, is to ignore any sales pitch based on TPI.

The casings for the vast majority of tires sold today are made from nylon threads. The casings are woven by machines. On the other hand, super-fancy, high-performance casings are constructed with cotton threads and often hand-woven.

Casings are attached to either wire or Kevlar “beads,” which are the hoops that correspond to the wheel size and hold the tire under the small hook that runs along the inside of the rims on the wheels.
The rubber tread lives on the outside of the casing. Often, a thin layer of puncture-resistant material is sandwiched between the casing and the rubber tread. The sidewalls of the tires are often made of a different rubber compound than the “tread” of the wheel.

The makeup of the tread, sidewalls, and puncture-resistant material determine the three qualities commuters care about in their tires:

• PUNCTURE RESISTANCE: Tire manufacturers have two main weapons against punctures. They add a layer of Kevlar or other puncture-resistant material under the tread, and they can use harder rubber compounds for the tread and sidewalls.

• COMFORT: There are two main variables when it comes to comfy bike tires: volume (tire size) and the amount of stuff between the casing and the road. Big fat tires exemplify why John Dunlop invented the pneumatic tire to replace the wooden or steel bicycle wheel. Puffy tires smooth out the bumps.

In addition, minimizing the number of layers in the tire and using supple rubber compounds for these layers makes for more comfortable tires, since the resulting tire will deform better around bumps and cracks on the road.

• PERFORMANCE: As with all bike-related performance theory, there’s no consensus on whether a rock-hard skinny tire will always out-perform a wider, suppler tire. Most tires are marketed around the concept of “rolling resistance,” where a given tire is rolled on a steel drum that can measure the amount of resistance on the tire. Given this method, it’s no surprise that rock-hard skinny tires have less rolling resistance than higher-volume, more supple-tires. And if the streets of Spokane were paved with smooth stainless steel, there would be no question of which style of tire to ride. But roads are imperfect, bumpy, pot-holey and cracked. In the last few years, enthusiasts and at least one proper study have shown that in real-world conditions higher-volume, supple tires will out-roll their skinny, rock-hard counterparts.

So where does all of this leave the poor cyclist that just wants a stinking commuter tire that is moderately priced, adequately puncture proof, comfortable and fast enough?

The answer: the Panaracer Pasela Tour Guard. It’s about $30.

Buy the fattest width Pasela that you can fit in your bike.

The Pasela is the perfect balance of cost, flat-protection, comfort and performance. It has a fairly neutral tread that rolls fast enough on pavement yet provides just enough bite for non-technical dirt trails and roads. Any local bike shop can order them. And the good ones will have them in stock.

Dave's new bike

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Ebey part 2

Awesome time. Picture post with a few notes will have to suffice for the story.
Jon found this beauty. We couldn't identify it. But looking at Liza's book is it an amanita citrina? or the deadly amanita phalloides?

Jon's wood fired stove. Works great. The cylinder is an Ikea silverware storing thing. It had holes in it. Jon chopped a feeder hole in it. He figured out later that getting the bottom off the ground a bit helps dramatically with air flow and infernoness.

Lee, Alex, my old bike, Fred. Alex brought a fairly complete shop set up, which came in fairly handy.

I traded my Salsa frame for this Kona frame. I wanted it for its longer top tube. I have a shorter stem that's going on it. I dig it. Alex bought a high zoot used Titanium Seven with S&S and a Rohloff for a steal.

Alex filing. Andre being a bench vise. Jon prepping a buffalo chicken wrap.

This is the Go Lite set up I've been using. I'll do a full review here or in OTM soon. Spoiler alert: it's a tad fussy to string up, but it's good and it's light and packs up tiny. My favorite shelter so far.

That small bike there belongs to a small woman named Sarah. The bike was built for 26" wheels, but Larry put 24"s and 150mm cranks on it. Smart.

Alex bombing Brave Heart.


Your basic Ebey environs. I had such a great time riding this year. Last year I was lame with bronchitis and felt like a looser. This year I felt like a winner!



The Eberlizer.


Over the shoulder shot.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Ebey part 1

I traded my frame for Alex's Kona. The trade included full service parts swap and build-out on site.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Much purple

one of us... one of us ... one of us

Can you find Waldo?

Producing your own vinyl stickers is the new urban farming. Get with it!

Buddy Alex just informed me that he has the means to create custom vinyl stickers. I've already put my order in.

Anyway. Tarik started it.

Monday, May 14, 2012

It's time

Oh verily. I'll start the season with short socks and work my up to black dress socks by month's end.

Yes, I'm forty. But I've been rocking this look before it became cool.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

V2 thoughts

I got the v2 right in the heat of the Grand Fondo funk, so I was pretty much spending all of my non-commute time on the 747.  So for any road/non-trail riding, I've been defaulting to the 747 for months.

I see the v2 as all about S24O's, exploring dirt roads, commuting, overnight hauls, and moderately loaded touring. But I haven't been doing any of that in the last month or so.

So, in anticipation of summer, I ripped off the fenders, put the taller rack on, and mounted the super bad-arse Quasimoto tires.

Can we just talk about how f'ing rad these tires are? I got hung up on some rail road routing on my SOS ride today. This required riding about a mile on some rail rock, which at times was off-camber and/or dotted with deeper sand and/or bigger jagged basalt chunks. The Quasi's just ate this up. They're huge - volume-wise, and they're tacky, and they bite just enough on the dirt. What's weird is how well they roll on pavement -- they're no Hetre, but they are suprisingly fast on the road, given how uncompromising they are in the dirt.

I need to bring these bars in one centimeter. The wanker in me wants to swap out the stem and bars for the Ritchey WCS versions to get this centimeter w/out changing the length of my stem. I did that on the 747 and it's all perfect and wonderful. The issue here is that the Campy brifters push my reach out about a centimeter more than the aero levers I had on there for v1. But I'm working the austerity angle at the moment, so I'll be strong and just try putting a shorter stem on there with the Noodles.

Anyway, this bike, with the drops and the fatty knobbies really comes into its own. When Pat is done and recovered from his cross-state journey, I'll get over there and get a lasher rack built for this bike. That will allow me to put my bulky light stuff (sleeping pad and bag) on the rear wheel, while carrying my basics in a bag above the front wheel. (A lasher rack is yet another Alex-idea -- see hint of implementation at on this Pat post).

I've got mid-July through mid-August off of work, so I plan on doing a bunch of bike camping and exploring with Pat Rick (and anyone else who wants to come and hang at the river) in the Colville Nat'l Forest.

The v2 will start seeing some good action.