Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Funkenstien and Other Random Fillers

Oh my god! I want to do more riding but I'm a lazy bastard. I've got into the post holiday funk and it's a hard climb out. I will, no matter what, start getting out again in two weeks. Really. It's not that I have to for some weird-o regiment here. It's that I have to because my whole world just sucks when I'm not getting out and riding a few miles first thing in the morning. I'm going nuts here. Why two weeks then? Well, Liza is in Ashland OR at UBI. That's a bike school. She's learning bike maintenance and loving it. That will hopefully relieve me as the primary bike fixer in the family, and I'll finally learn the right way to do things from her. Anyway, I'm on my own until she gets back and it's sort of frowned upon to leave your 4 year old at home alone in the morning. So that's my excuse for now. Come back in two weeks and see what it is.

Bike Swapin'
Ok, Spokane needs a bike swap. Make that "the Inland Northwest." I'm on a mission with some friends here to put something together. Watch this space.

Dumb bike update
A month or so ago I wrote a review on 63xc.com about our funny Fuji fixed gear mountain bike. Here's the URL if you're interested: http://www.63xc.com/johnspeare/laidback.htm. Anyway, I expected not to like this bike. But I've been digging it. It was intended for Liza, but she pretty much hates it. Way too much reach. I tried mustache bars, flared drop bars, flat mountain bars and we've finally hit on something she doesn't hate as much: big-ass flared albatross bars. I'll take a picture one day. Anyway, I haul Maddie to school with this bike every day. When I have to make a run to the store, this is the bike I grab. It's like an SUV. It's got huge studded fat tires on it. It's geared super low and as a fixed gear, it can just go everywhere as long as you're willing to sacrifice your knees to get there. With the albatross bars, I really like it more than any other iteration.

The end-all-be-all-bike update
I think I've ridden my Garyized trek a total of about 11 miles. There were a couple days there where snow was not covering the ground and I got in a couple short rides. It rules. I've not changed any of the issues I wrote about in the last blog -- so, there's still work to be done. I've decided that I really can't provide a full on report on exactly how much it rules until I do a really long ride on it. Like at least 50 miles. But really, it should be around a 100 miles. Those in the know say that low trail bike are better handling for folks that are about to fall over from exhaustion. So I need to test the bike under those conditions. At my current rate of non-ridingness, maybe I'll only need a 10 mile ride or so to test it out.

Ugg. I don't even want heat here. I just want clear roads. Not roads that are mostly clear with the randomly, yet well-placed ice patch, but clear. And above 30F.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Behold: The Hairy-Garyized 1983 Trek 520

About a month ago, I went on and on about making the perfect bike from an old Trek I had. Well, the work is done and the result looks great. I would like to report on the riding/handling characteristics, but when it snowed about 6 inches as soon as I got it built up. I did wrestle it around the neighborhood in the deep snow, and for what that was worth, it felt good... so, more to come on that.

The idea with this bike is that it will truly be a do-everything bike. It's got fattish tires for trail riding. The 650b fanatics swear that the tire size is a perfect road tire too. The front fork was raked to 58mm to provide for 40mm of trail. This front-end geometry will allow for primary loads to be carried comfortably up front.

A couple issues I still need to figure out.

Gearing: Right now the gearing is 45/34 up front and 12/32 in the rear. I'd be happier with a slightly lower gear to make this truly a go almost anywhere bike. I couldn't fit a triple on there with the bottom brackets that I had in my stash (even though the longest was 122.5!), so I'm thinking a 94mm BCD double that will allow me to go 44/30 up front may be on this bike in the future. My buddy Alex runs his Trek of the same year with that combo up front and it makes a lot of sense. I've ridden it and it's great: you have a single cruising rang with the 44 spread across the rear cassette, then a bail-out gear with the 30t chain ring. Alex provides a more thorough explanation on his blog. Read it. Good stuff.


I'm not sure if that's how you spell that, but a decaluer is a device that allows you to remove a front handle bar bag quickly and provides support for the bag when it's on your bike. I have one and it slides in on the headset stack. The fork was not cut long on this bike originally. I also added a brake cable hanger to the stack to accommodate the new front cantilever brake. This bike originally shipped with side-pulls. So, no room on the stack. My original thinking was to replace the headset, since the one I have on there is goofy for reasons I don't want to go into. I could replace the headset with one that could give me a lot more stacking room. But now, I'm thinking I just may find a brake cable holder to attach to the actual stem. I've used those before and while not elegant: they work.


I still have a rack coming from Gary that will fit onto the existing rack. More on that later. Once that comes I'll figure out where to put the front headlight.

Front Brake Pad Clearance
There ain't much. This picture shows my hack for now. Alex recommended finding a canti-brake that mounts the brake further in the front. I've got a stack of canti-brakes here so, I'll find one that works. But I do love the 986's. So easy to set up.

Finally, let me say this: Hairy Gary is great. His work is great. Go here for more detailed pics of this frame. Everything he did is perfect: the rear-spacing is dead on 135mm. The braze-ons for the canti's look like they grew out of the frame. All the spacing for all the braze-ons he did are perfect. He re-shaped the front rack to fit the width of the forks. Just perfect work all around and a killer deal; just over $300 for the work and the paint job. Paint is powder coat. I asked for sparkles in any color and he delivered. I can't wait to get on this bike and go.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Dang it's Cold

And Liza is still smiling.

Third Tuesday of the month: that can only mean one thing. Tonight, 6pm Bicycle Advisory Board meeting. All are welcome. City Hall in the Council Briefing Chambers. In the basement. Ride your bike there and be heard!

Saturday, January 6, 2007


Since moving back to Spokane about 3 years ago, I've stayed clear of the Palouse as a riding destination. I think the reason is that my memory of the Palouse is two roads: the Palouse Highway and Valley Chapel Road. The memory of driving around these roads as a teen hadn't inspired me to go and ride them later as an adult. This last summer I spent some time getting reacquainted with the Palouse.

I was pretty much right in my memory of the Palouse Highway. Not ideal -- lots of loud, fast traffic. But it has a nice shoulder and serves as a good arterial to many back roads and dotted lines.

I've not taken a ride beyond 15 miles or so for at least a month, maybe longer. So I decided that Friday would be a longer ride. And I would ride south.

I wake up and it is 23F. If I wait a while -- take my time packing a lunch, have coffee, read the paper, have another coffee -- then it may warm up a bit. It does. By 10AM it is 25F and I have fussed all I can.

I ride a couple miles and begin to rethink my ride. I'm warm, but I just feel so slow and heavy. I'm wishing for gears, but I'm riding fixed today. I'm carrying extra gear because it is so cold: an extra wool shirt and neck gator; my jetboil; a liter of water; an extra hotcup of ginger-water. Plus, I have a lock in my front bag, along with lunch and the other crap that finds its way into my bag. And of course my tool kit. A lot of crud... I am planning on a 5 hour ride in sub-freezing temperatures and I want to be prepared for it. The weight is worth the piece of mind.

As I pass Luna's Bakery, I notice both of my friends are working, so I stop by and said hey. My buddy Joe gives me some input on my route and suggests a couple cool roads. He had driven all these roads during high school with his buddies.

I pedal on a couple more miles to the Palouse Highway. The wind is sharp. I also don't want to listen to the traffic; I need quiet. So I pull on to Ben Burr road instead.

Most of my day rides share the same goal: to find some dirt roads that I've not ridden before. I head up Ben Burr road thinking of this goal. I've been down Ben Burr before. But I remember wanting to check out "Willow Springs Road." It's just a couple miles south. More climbing and Willow Springs leads me to Big Rock Road.

Big Rock Road is a fine dirt road that goes straight up for about a mile. I enjoy the first of 2 long walks as I push my bike up the steep grade. I am rewarded at the top: Big Rock levels out and curves it's way around the side of a mountain; the icy-cold winter views are stunning as I look out across Spokane to the north and the Palouse to the south.

I end up popping out on the Palouse and immediately find another road that I've wondered about: Weger Road. Like any good road, this too starts out with a mile-long walk up a steep hill. The reward on Weger is a long, rolling stroll through the Palouse on frozen dirt roads. The wind is still fiercely cold. Luckily, among the crap in my bag was a pair of sunglasses. Without them I'd be tearing up from the constant cold wind.

I enjoy lunch on Valley Chapel Road, amid high school memories of driving out Valley Chapel to go to "the bridge" and swim.

Lunch is soup: bullion cube with mushrooms, spinach, chopped onions and some dehydrated sun-dried tomatoes. All brought to a boil in an instant in the Jetboil. What a great device the Jetboil is. I also have some caponata; my Sicilian mother-in-law makes this for me. I can't get enough of it. I'll document it sometime because it is the perfect cycling food. Bread, banana, and a hard-boiled egg complete the lunch. Bumble bar for emergency. In this weather, a warm lunch is such a huge treat. I also keep my hotcup full of hot water -- I have a piece of crushed fresh ginger in the hotcup too. This makes for a nice flavor and guards against stomach troubles.

As I finish lunch, it starts to snow. It's coming down lightly and swirling in the wind. By the time I arrive in downtown Spokane, the snow is coming down harder and I'm glad to be getting home. Thanks to the chemical foot warmers and my wool I am never freezing. But I am cold. The ride only turned out to be about 3 hours and about 30 miles, but I found a couple new roads and found a way to enjoy the cold weather. Map of route is on bikely.com.