Monday, December 31, 2007

Cycling Spokane in Aught 07

The required "year in review" post. What a long-winded epic post. Good luck.

Bike Advocacy and City Stuff

All up, the majority of bike stuff in the city was positive this year: great new Mayor; my district got everyday cyclist, Richard Rush; Bicycle Alliance of Washington dug in and started to help out Spokane bike stuff; the BAB rallying and subsequent completion of SE Blvd; the real and official start of the Master Bike Plan; two big bike events (Bike to Work and SpokeFest) in the works for 08. With the success comes some frustration; the BAB needs to work harder to make our plans/goals/process more transparent. We hit a bit of a rocky ride near the end of the year with some election-year politics and well-meaning, but misguided neighborhood activism.

The Goals for 08:

  1. Master Bike Plan. It's going to get done. Goal is Summer. Next step is shopping the draft map and ideas around the neighborhoods. The Master Bike Plan is absolutely the #1 priority for getting any kind of funding/progress around bike facilities in this city. Getting citizen input is required for its success. Start here if you want to get involved.
  2. Get a FT Bike/Ped coordinator who is on the city staff. This is required by the comp plan and it is sorely needed, as all the help BAB gets from city staff is from great, hard working, passionate folks that have way too much work. Anyone who says city staff don't earn their pay is completely full of crap and/or has an ax to grind. It doesn't make sense to rally for $50k every time a potential project comes up. An effective BP coordinator would see the projects coming down the pipe, building them into a plan and be dedicated to grant-writing and finding money for these projects. The position would easily pay for itself. This is a no brainer.
  3. Low-hangers. Identify some projects that are contained, well-understood, and have high-impact and then get the money to complete them as we build the big master bike plan. Some of my favorites: bike rack on every block in the downtown core; Albi-Aubrey connection; bike blvd proofs of concept; stripe Howard from the Riverfront Park to Buckeye and sharrows on Howard from the Riverfront to LC.

The Bikes

Pretty typical year. Lots of bikes in -- a few out. The RB-T remains the favorite, no matter how many bikes I go through I always come back to it.

We got Maddie on a tandem this year and it was a huge success; that's a keeper. I was able to put my Garyized 520 to the test on tour and I also got a sweet front rack for it. It's a solid bike and good work horse; I don't love it yet, and that's a good sign to me.

The Turd is done. It's on the block. I'll regret it, but we've got to get some space here.

I still have the RB-1 hanging and ready for next spring. Liza's RB-1 650b conversion was a huge success. She loves it. We're looking forward to doing some day/short tours next year where she'll be on that bike.

The Goals for 08:

  1. I'm repo'ing my loaner RB-T to try some low-trail/rack experiments. My daily, black RB-T will go fenderless and knobbie and become my mountain bike in 08.
  2. Liza is contemplating converting her Fuji to 650b now because she loves the plush ride of her RB-1.
  3. Sell the Turd, the Raleigh 20.
  4. Move the snow bike and Liza's Schwinn up to my dad's place -- the perfect place for these bikes.
  5. I'm looking forward to riding up Mt Spokane just so I can ride my new RB-1 down through the curves. It should be fun, but I need to drop some more pounds or that will be a death march on the way up. So there's a unique goal for the rest of the winter.


I guess I crave community because I spend a lot of time building up bike stuff that attempts to bring other folks in. I don't know if it's craving community as much as my drive to get folks on bikes. Riding bikes has made such a huge difference and impact on my life I just want to share that with other people. I don't know. But anyone with a blog is full of crap if they say it's not about feeding a hungry ego. Check out the side-line on GIGOwiz's blog, "Me! Me! It's All About Me!!!"; that should be baked into all the templates on blogspot.

Anyway, I tried or was involved with a lot of community stuff this year. The biggest is Pedals2People, something I've talked about with friends for a couple years. This has been a huge undertaking and is a constant balancing act between time, effort, and value. A good long-term challenge that I will enjoy being a part of.

This blog and writing for OutThere Monthly are also part of the need to spread the good word. The Cycling Spokane Forums is a new thing. It's slow growing, like anything good, but the two rides that it has borne, have been good things.

We've got 4 new bike blogs (100 km, FBC, P2P, and EPM) in Spokane, the FBC monthly rides are growing and are sure to be a huge success, mainly because the idea is so F'ing simple: rides leave from Pear Tree at 9 pm on the night of the full moon. Done.

Taylor at EPM is restarting his messenger business. I wish him the best in 08 and I hope he gets the business running enough so he can do it full time, then hire me as a PT ringer.

I also wish great success to local chef and distance cyclist David Blaine in his attempt to race the great divide this summer. I am in awe of anyone who makes that ride. It's huge. Good luck.

Patrick and Elissa, owners of "The Scoop" have embraced cycling, have built up a couple bikes with P2P, and have sponsored the P2P photo contest. Tim and Patty, new owners of the the Baby Bar and soon to be "Neato Burrito" are thinking about how they can become the cyclist destination, by putting in more racks, allowing indoor bike parking, and loaning out locks to customers. Note that they bought Slick Rock/Baby Bar from a guy who didn't mind you parking in his covered hallway -- Mark was also a yearly sponsor of the Fall Century and rides a sport tourer made locally by Hairy Gary.

Goals for 08:

  1. For you: go out of your way to patronize places that have bike racks and make life easier for cyclists.
  2. For me: do some fine-tuning around how much time/effort I put into various stuff so I have more time for riding. Doh!
  3. Stretch: (Ignore #2 and...) Organize a Family Bike Jamboree-Overnighter at Riverside State Park.


Although my bike is my primary transportation around town, I rode far fewer miles this year than I did in '06 by quite a bit. With the increased workload brought on by P2P and with Liza's new job, I was unable to do as many S240 and 2-day runs. I missed Mt. Spokane; I didn't do the long way to my dad's (such a great ride); and I only did 2 S240s.

I don't really care about number of miles as a way of measuring my cycling. It's way more important for me to have great experiences than to log a bunch of miles. My favorite kind of ride is either alone or with friends at a nice clip over dirt/rural roads and into and over the hills. When I don't get enough of this kind of riding, then I feel like I've not got enough "miles" in. That's how I feel this year.

That said, I did have the best bike tour/ride of my life, and I found an amazing spot for quick S240s on Long Lake.

Goals for 08

  1. Many more day rides. Getting a bunch of S240's in at this point in my life is just not a reasonable goal. With the other stuff and traveling I have and Liza working, I just can't be gone overnight more than a once a month or so. So, my goal is to be more hard core about walling off my Fridays. I don't work Fridays, Maddie is in school, and Liza doesn't work. I can do a 9-5 ride on Fridays if I don't pick up extra stuff. The hard one here is BAB work, as it tends to fall to Fridays. Day rides are wonderful and a great way to find new roads in the area.
  2. Three or four S240s. I need to pick the dates, put them on a calendar, recruit at least one other person, and hold it. If I have another person going, then I can't bail at the last minute. Places I must go: Long Lake, Fish Lake, Hunters and one new discovery.
  3. At least one long-way to Dad's. This was a 12 hour ride last time I did it. And very rewarding for me.
  4. Critical Mass in Seattle. I need to see how this is done there. Talking to friends and seeing pics of it makes me think there is a much better way to enjoy this event than the depressing anarchoid driven bore that we have here. Perhaps we can transform this.
  5. A 3-dayer with Liza.
  6. The stretch goal: I'd love to find a way to ride the money part of Highway 20 this year.


I don't think I discoverd much in the way of new stuff this year. The low-trail/front rack thing really flourished though. I understand it and it works well for me. So I'll be doing more of that.

I just discovered yesterday how to make sandals work in the cold and snow. This has sort of been my background life's work over the last few years. The secret: thin (liner) wool socks, huge thick crazy wool socks (REI "camping" sock?), then gortex socks (not SealSkinz). That's it. Worked for me yesterday when the temp was about 28 F and we tromped through 1.5 miles of snow and rode for another 15 miles. A bit of cold toeness, but none worse than the others I was riding with. Success.

Compact cranks. I discovered these this year. I'm not talking about 110/74 BCD cranks that are sold with 52/34 rings on every new bike. I'm talking about the 94/58 BCD cranks. They are perfect: I can run 44/30 and a wide range cassette in the rear and get all the gearing I need for non-touring. They rule and I'm bummed that you can't find a good (cold forged, low-tread) 94/58 BCD crankset any more.

Goal of 08

  1. Recycle more and buy less new stuff. This is hard for me on the bike front, but Liza and I are going to be buying a lot less new stuff this year. The big place here where I throw money/resources away is in clothing -- buying wool stuff. There's so much at thrift stores that is usable if you spend a bit of time re-working it. To that end, we're setting up a room for downstairs that will allow us to sew more: a place where we can leave the sewing machine set up.

Best to you in 08.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Happy Camper

I think it's a universal phenomenon: you're in a warm spot, like laying in bed, or hanging out at a bar or coffee place, and you're planning on getting on a bike in a cold spot, like outside in the snow.

You think you don't want to go from the warm spot to ride a bike in the cold spot. It just seems so uncomfortable and unnecessary.

Then you get out there, on your bike, in the cold and maybe wet, and there is no place you'd rather be.

The cold (assuming you're dressed for it) feels wonderfully invigorating and riding a bike is such a perfect way to experience the cold and wet. You can't believe the streets are not filled with cyclists.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Snow then Rain then Slush

Joe and I took a quick loop on the high drive trails yesterday when there was still some snow. I've got a couple trails documented now. Got a Spokane trail? Send me a gpx or better, contact me and we can ride it while I track it. The why is here. My first couple trails are shown here (if you're running a Mac, you must view the page with Firefox).

I took the front rack and basket off the Turd. What a difference. It's so EASY to ride now. I also took off the holy rollers and put some more aggressive knobbies on there. These two changes make this bike a lot of fun to ride in the snow. I had a great time bombing around the high drive trails on it yesterday. I also rode it last night on the FBC ride.

I cannot figure out how to take good night pics with my camera. These photos suck, but they do a good enough job of showing how righteous the bikes looked. The FBC had it's monthly ride last night and all bikes had lights. But a couple really shined.

Considering it was pissing down rain at 9pm last night and the streets were all slushy and shitty, there was a good turn out. Eight or nine?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Eve of Xmass Eve

The snow is coming down hard now.

If you're sitting around looking forward to lazying around all day tomorrow and looking for just the right activity tonight... come take ride with the FBC.

I heard that one elf is going to bring the mobile sound system. Sweet.

Go to the FBC site for more info. Then go find some lights.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Thursday Report

I'm off work for the next couple weeks. Maddie is in school this week. I spent my second day in a row tooling around town. And my second day in a row going to visit Hairy Gary. I picked up some cranks from him yesterday and it turns out he had finished straightening some Atlantis forks that I had left there about a year ago. AND... he is nearly done with a rack that is also of the same vintage. It's a big hunk of machined aluminum. Weird. But I'm game for whatever he cooks up.

He said he'd spend a couple days finishing my rack. On the ride back from his house I figured I should just bring my 720 there with my new Kogswell fork and have him fix it all up with the new rack. So, I stripped most the crud off the 720 last night, loaded it up on the 520, and rode it out there today with my new forks.

Gary has this pink beauty hanging in his living room.
It's a woman's super light sport tourer; about 54 cm. It's steel and it's about 3.5 lbs. With fork. Freaky light. It would fit Liza nicely. He said he'd sell it for $2200, which is a great price if that's your deal. It's a neat paint job; flowery/butterfliey but mellow; not crazy.

The ride to Gary's is sucky, but I kind of like it. It's sucky in that you pretty much have to go out Broadway in the Helena/Freya area, which just isn't pleasant. But I like it out there because there's always lots of cool industrial type stuff to look at and some rough roads and a bit of dirt. There are also little homes tucked away in their too. It is a neighborhood. My route always includes the shortcut through Playfair, which -- by the way -- is on the short list as a place for a new prison. Nice. Just what that neighborhood needs. Lame.

On the way back, I saw this bike hanging on some one's porch:

Dig the chian ring and the crazy offset on the fork.
This would be a damn fun bike to ride. It's a 3-speed; it's nice and big. Not sure what size tires those are. 597's? Man, I'd love to ride that sucker. Check out the clearance. This would be a flippin sweet city bike for tooling around.
As I was on this guy's lawn taking pictures, he pulled up and told me that he got it at a garage sale and that he doesn't ride it. And that it looks a lot better when it's dark. Indeed.

Monday, December 17, 2007

This is what 65 mm of offset looks like

My forks from Jeff Lyon came. They're Kogswell forks. Jeff raked them out to 65 mm, added canti studs, and mid-fork barrel braze-ons. I had planned on putting the same forks on my RB-T last summer or fall, but ended up trading off the forks to Alex for a beautiful rack.

I'm basically building the same bike he just did. This won't be the first time I've done that. Alex has asked me not to paint it blue. I think I'm creeping him out.

The other set will go on my 720.

When in Doubt: Document

I've been thinking of this idea for a while now and talking to local rolfer and cycling sub-god, Jake, this morning helped push me into action.

Spokane has a bunch of locals-only type trails. I don't mean "locals only" in the Surf Punks "stay out" way, but rather, in the "you don't know about them unless you live here or even in the neighborhood" way.

Anyway, we've got the high drive trails, Beacon Hill, Latah Valley, and lots of other small patches of trails. The fact that the trails exist are well-known. But the trails themselves are not well documented. For example, I've never seen a map of the high drive/bluff trails.

I think most folks like it that way. Undocumented trails are like having your own private trails. And having your own private trail is a rare thing in this over-populated world.

Even so, I think we should be documenting these trails. And here's why.

A while back, I posted about the potential for a connection between Aubrey White Parkway and Albi Stadium. One thing that's going on there is that a developer has come in and blown away a good chunk of the trails at the base of the hill. In fact, a main connection from the hill to Aubrey White parkway will shortly be buried by suburbia forever.

Talk to folks in that neighborhood, or even guys like Jake, who doesn't even live in the neighborhood, but still rides those trails and knows them well. By folks who use these trails, they are well-known. But to official plats, assessments, legal docs, etc -- these trails do not exist. And if they don't exist in the legal realm, then it makes it just that much easier to bulldoze over them or to disregard public input regarding them.

Take a look at Tuscan Ridge, a development off of high drive. Just in the initial assessment/fussing on the proposed land, a trail was bulldozed over and is now covered by a pile of dirt the size of my house.

My take is that we should be documenting all trails. I'm not 100% sure what we should do with that data once we have it, but one thought is to somehow bake it into the Master Bike Plan. Jake suggested printing up little maps and putting them at bike shops. Again: I don't know exactly how that plays out, but doc'ing is the first step.

The bottom line is that we need to make it harder for development to destroy these trails. And in the case where development does move in, we need to encourage developers to respect the trails or improve them with their development. This starts by providing a paper trail (pa dum pum) to show the existence of such trails.

If you have a GPS and you use any trails in this city. Send me a gpx file. How about that? I'll start collecting and posting on a map, as we do with the commuter project. We can start there.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

First Ride

The first forum-organized ride was a success... I wasn't riding alone. In fact, there were 3 of us!

Brent and Joe
Two Surlys.

Some one has been putting up new trail head signs along the trail. This was on Thorpe Road. There was another new one on Lindke.

A combination of fenders, narrow forks, canti-brakes, snow and warmish temperature produce the snow plow effect.