Saturday, November 30, 2013

Store run in the snow

MB-2 in winter mode.
The Hakkapaliittas are going on their 6th or 7th winter. 

Looking thrilled!

Middle trail.
Close to Glen's Waterfall.

Minor route from middle to top.

And we rode

The Black Friday ride happened and it was hard.

Too hard. I was blaming too much Thanksgiving cheer. And I think that played a part. But really: my milquetoast commutes have slowed my cruising pace and I rarely go all-out on rides anymore.

I need to do harder rides so that when rides like this pop up, they are more fun. While I enjoyed hanging and riding with the BF'ers, it wasn't as fun as it should be, mainly due to my wheezy, cooked-to-soon, tired arse.

The trails were in good shape. Icy stiff pine needles in some sections make for challenging cornering and climbing.
I took one picture.
This is it.

We went bluff to 57th to Pines development to White road trail climb to Eagle's Ridge cliff to Few driveway-down-to-the-cemetery, over the creek, following the creek trail to pop out at the junk yard across 195 through Vinegar Flats under Highbridge to Sandifur to river trail to Mega church (expect a post soon asking the person/people who are paving the Mega Church section of the river trail to frigging stop!) to Nunnery trail across the bridge up Patrick's climb through the city to River City Taproom.

Gage, who has done this ride, and is also the owner of River City Red, opened up his tap room early just for us. He's got an excellent space there and great beers, which are priced super affordably, especially the "Child's Portion" four-ounce pour: $1. Hello.

Here's Hank's take on the ride, with more pictures.

Until next year.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

BFF BF 411

Weather is looking kind of just right.

Expect a socially-moderately paced sort of technical ride.

Deets here.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Bike box

When I went back to school last year I planned on a multi-modal commute. I live about 20 miles from campus. As a student: you get a bus pass. This is a no-brainer for me. I'm amazed by how many people drive their own cars out to school every day.

If you just calculate that cost based on the IRS 2013 mileage reimbursement rate of 56.5 cents a mile, I would be looking at a cost of $22 a day to drive! Assume you drive daily, that's over $100/week. For a school year, you're looking at around $3500. After a four-year degree? Hello: around $14,000.

And as a student, you're already paying fees to cover a bus pass. So why throw this money out? This is easy math. I realize that everyone has different circumstances that dictate what and how they do stuff... but I digress.

So when I started going back to school, I was aware of the bike boxes down by the park and ride. I assumed there would be a huge waiting list because they're so rad. When I investigated I was astonished to find that they only cost $5/month and that not only did they have a box available at the freeway park and ride, but four of the six were available and had been for years!!


Bike boxes are f'ing awesome. Every quarter is different, but for example, this quarter: I ride home from school three days a week. This means, I ride to the bus in the morning, put my bike on the front, then ride home.

The other two days, I ride down to the park and ride, put my bike in the bike box, then hop on the bus. Sometimes on those days, I catch a ride home with a buddy and we stop at Bennitidos for a beer. Then he drops me off at home. No big whoop: my bike is safe and I can pick it up some other time. (Yes I see the mild irony of relying on my driving buddy here... whatever, it's for a noble purpose: accompanying him for a beer).

For $60 a year! Crazy. And I have never ever seen evidence that any of the other bike boxes down by the freeway are even being used. Whatevs...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Not my picture

This photo is from today's Surly blog post. Since Pat drifted off, I think the Surly blog is becoming my new favorite.

If that picture doesn't make you want to ride a fat bike, or at least just ride, then nothing will.

Plus it was 27° F on my commute this morning. I froze my ass on the way down the hill. And that picture there just makes think I could've spent even more time playing in the water last summer.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Bicycle commuter mug - Roast House delivers JoeMo

The setup

Last May, I petitioned the Online Council of Supreme Bike Nerds for a commuter mug recommendation. This was my request:
I’m looking for the perfect commuter mug. Here’s the scenario:

  • I ride (coast) to a bus stop about 3 miles away every morning.
  • I usually put my bike in a box, but  sometimes, I put it on the bus for the evening commute. That’s kind of immaterial though.
  • Ideally, I’d spend my 25 minute bus ride drinking a hot coffee. 

I want an ideal mug.

Must haves:
1.       No plastic touching the hot coffee (stainless inside is a requirement)
2.       Good insulation – my coast is often into freezing winds. If coffee isn’t screaming hot and black, I don’t want it.
3.       I can drink from it without disassembling stuff (i.e., I don’t want to unscrew lids) – think one-handed operation
4.       It must not drip/splatter/leak while in commute mode

Nice to have:
Fits in a water bottle cage

I’m finding Requirements #3 and #4 make for tough bedfellows.

Much discussion and sharing ensued, as it often does when one asks for recommendations from bike nerds online. Existing resources were shared. One of the most Supreme of Nerds had even written a small dissertation of his own on this subject.

Other excellent solutions were offered : thermos, another thermos, Sweda, and an Oxo.

But the one that I set my sights on was this one, from a Nerd known as "Lee:"

Hey John, I use the JOEmo, which I found at my local hardware store:
I've had it for several years now which I guess is a good recommendation as it means I haven't unconsciously lost it yet. I can say that it does keep the coffee hot for at least the length of my 1hr+ multimodal commute and it's been leak-proof over all of that time. I wrapped a band or two of cloth handlebar tape around it so it fits snuggly into my cheap ass PlanetBike bottle cage. The tape is now grimy and gross, but the coffee still tastes good and hot.

It turns out you can have no screw-on lid, or you can have no drip, but not both. I know folks will say they have a cup they've used for years that beats this system. OK.

The deal

I'm in with the folks at Roast House. Mainly, I know Bill (pictures here) as a main, go-to cycling -- and now running -- partner. Somehow I met Debbie at some bike-related thing and we became easy chums. Just about everyone at Roast House is a daily bike commuter, ironically, except for Bill, who has to deliver coffee all over town.

So when the Nerds gave me the recommendation, I gave that to Debbie, who went and found it and got it badged with her logo. Now she's selling them for $20.

I bought one.

After a couple weeks: I'm sold. Thanks "Lee."

If you get one, the first thing you must do is soak the drinky-spout thing in super hot water for a 1/2 hour or so. Then do that again. That process blows out the faint plastic funk flavor. Deb recommended that -- it's a good recommendation.

You push that button on the drinky-spouty thing and coffee can pour out. It's a standard coffee mug design. And when closed, it holds the coffee in there. I wouldn't go tossing it in my bag, but if I were a drinking (coffee) -and-riding type, it would work great. Maybe I'll become a drinker-and-rider-of-coffee.

The second thing to do -- assuming you want to put this in a bottle cage, is to wrap it with bar tape and/or rim tape at the cage contact points. You could probably also find a good plastic cage that would hold it well, but the tape solution works for nearly all normal cages AND it makes it yours!

The money piece. It makes the solution a two-handed thing, but it's worth it.

Because I trust it will never spill and I want to maintain as much coffee heat as I can, I've been throwing it in my bag (willy-nilly) with my laptop, papers, clothing, etc.

If you bike and you coffee and you commute on bike with coffee, this is a good thing.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

As long as the beer thing isn't bad intel...

So there's crazy bike shop goings on...

The epicenter appears to be Slick Rock Burrito, which makes damn good sense to me, because 1) those are my favorite burritos in town. Only beating out Tim and Patti's cause Jeff makes that killer Ghost Salsa. To be clear -- I'm a Neato Fan too. And 2) because both of these burrito places were started by Mark, who is a rad guy, a cyclist (owner of a Hairy Gary bike in fact), and the first person ever to mention my blog to me so long ago -- "hey, have you seen this bike blog about Spokane....?"

Spycam shot #1 -- This Bike Life will go into that building on the right.
Notes from my hired spy (not Pat): "There's construction going on inside, and a dividing wall has been installed between the two doors, so it looks like there will now be two separate spots, one small one and one larger one."
It seems like about a month ago, someone (am I'm pretty sure it's Liza), told me that This Bike Life was opening a place up in the space that used to be a hair salon. Liza worked with the owner (Kevin) of This Bike Life at REI before he went off and opened his first shop out north. She vouches for Kevin, which is good enough for me. Then Gaz (here's a picture that isn't Gaz), who is guy I *do* sort of know and I *do* know he's a super good egg and excellent mechanic/problem solver, went to work at This Bike Life. So did Josh - another friend of Liza's from REI.

Anyway -- somewhere along the line I heard that This Bike Life was going to include a beer thing in their shop. I'm thinking that Liza told me that, but she's saying she didn't. So maybe it's wishful thinking? I really hope not, because we NEED another solid beer place in that neighborhood. And I've been telling everyone that I know that "there's gonna be a bike shop behind Slick Rock and it's gonna have beer..."

Manito Tap House has jumped the shark -- buddy Bill put it perfectly yesterday as he quoted Yogi: "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded." True dat.

Benidittos, of course is the perfect place. He's only got a handful of handles, but there is always good stuff there (including some of the coveted Hood River beers from Every Body's and Double Mountain. Hello). And by "perfect" I'm not talking about all other stuff some of my friends (ahemPatcough) look for in a boozer, such as meeting the basic expectation of actually *getting* a beer delivered to you by a server. Whatevs!

So the point here, is that if we could get a bike shop in the Slick Rock hood that had the Beniditto's beer model, that would be great. K?

So this gets better. And by better, I mean more complicated.

Turns out the guys at Wheel Sport South are looking to move over to the strip mall at Sterling Savings in space formerly occupied by a physical therapy place. Yeah: the one on 30th and Grand.

And yes. That is directly across the street from the new This Bike Life location. According to the window dressing on the former PT space, this will become the new South Hill location for Wheelsport.

Bikes are great, but hanging out and drinking beers around bikes in a bike shop is greater. Clearly -- only the one with the best beers will survive.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Wasn't me

From: Ian 
Sent: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 11:57 AM
To: John Speare
Subject: While stuck in snow day traffic on Bernard this morning...

Was this you?  (see attached picture I took)
If so, you are one crazy mofo.
If not, I thought you’d still like this picture of cycling in Spokane.
Also, I thought it was a good omen for tonight’s election results.
Cheers. (and safe riding!)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Review: Pearl Izumi Barrier Cycling Cap

Cycling hats rarely fit my fat noggin. And when they do, it's only until I sweat them out and then they shrink a bit. I love the Pace cotton caps (right side in the pic above), but after a month or so they shrink up and are too high-n-tight to wear comfortably. I've tried a few wool caps (left side in the pic above), which look great until I try to get them on my head, where they sort of mostly kind of fit, but more like a yarmulke with a bill. I look like a baseball player from like 1910.

In the winter, I typically wear a thin wool beanie, but I'd prefer a thin wool winter cycling cap that comes over my ears. There is one of those in that picture up there -- one that I bought from some guy online (from Portland?) a few years ago. It fits wells, but the wool is recycled from an old sweater so it gets all droopy when it gets wet. And the bill is all janky. So that never really worked.

The folks at Pearl Izumi sent me their Barrier cycling cap, which is a winter cap. And while not wool -- it's friggin perfect in how it fits. It's plastic-y stretchy poly -- so it fits my head wonderfully, which is sort of hard to document with selfie photos.

Luckily, we have some Jacks with fat heads too...

That's a lot of stretch.

Since it's poly, it picks up the funk quickly and holds onto it, which is not ideal.

But so far on cold morning runs and rides in the high-30's, I'm loving its essential function: to stay over my ears and keep my head warm.

I took a run in the pouring rain yesterday at about 40 degrees, and was soaked and warm and happy. That's probably more a function of how the head works than any particular cap, but it was nice to have a bill to keep the rain out of my eyes and the cap certainly kept the heat in.

And did I mention the stretchy part: it's super comfy. Definitely the most comfy cycling cap I've owned yet. I wish they'd figure out a stretchy way to make it out of thin wool -- that would make the best cap ever in the world -- but until then this one is good.

I'll report back at the end of the winter to provide a review of durability, super cold long commute fitness, and the like.