Sunday, April 29, 2007

Hi, My Name is John and I have a Bike Problem

A few small experiences have been tempting my "want to try another bike" problem. This was supposed to be the year of the non-boondoggle, where I didn't spend a bunch of money on bike stuff. To skirt the rules a bit, it's looking like it may be the year where I sell off my bling bikes to finance not-so-much bling.

I sold my Rivendell Quickbeam. That money went to Maddie's tandem. My buddy Joe traded me his old Trek 720 frame set for a Nitto rack. The 720 is a replacement for my Quickbeam and I'm just fine with it... no regrets at all. The much celebrated 520 "do everything" bike is looking more and more like a solid replacement for the Atlantis as the tourer and load-hauler 'round town. My prediction is that I'll see the revival of the RB-T as the "go-fast" bike for me. I miss it and I just haven't been able to replicate that springy feel in other bikes.

For any ride under 5 miles, I've been riding the Fuji Turd bike for the last few weeks. I put the hurkin' fat rubber on it last week and transformed it once again. I also ran into Jon the bass player and bike rider. I don't know his last name. But I ran into him just after he had just finished an epic trail ride all over the Hangman Valley and into the Cheney-Spokane road area. His tale of all trails for mile after mile got me thinking that I have a lot of unexplored territory to cover right out my back yard. And there a number of folks who can show me around that territory. I've also been eyeing David Blaine's blog and his adventures in the back country of north Idaho. My buddy Joe is slowly building up a Karate Monkey for trail riding. I keep throwing the chain and having generally freaky-scarey experiences on my 720 when I go on certain steep rocky trails off High Drive. Now that I'm riding this absurdly fat-tired Fuji, where I can roll over a curb and barely feel it, I am feeling the urge to try fat-tired mountain biking. I'm even thinking about a suspension fork. The seed is planted. I will now stew. And think and re-think and over think.

Some options I've thought of:
  • Liberate the MB-2 that is burdened by the Xtracycle. The retro-grouch in me says, "this is the way God intended for mountain bikes to be built -- with a rigid fork." If the MB-2 wasn't engulfed by the Xtracycle, I would definitely give the bike a shot. But hooking up the xtracycle, and the lever-actuated center stand, and the lighting system and all that goo makes me not want to deal with it at all. The X is destined for loanership to friends.
  • I like the looks of REI's entry into the single speed market this year, which mysteriously, is only in the paper catalog and not on the REI site. It's a steel frame. It's simple. It's clean with no shocks, and it's orange. Yowsa. But I think I want gears. I've done my share of grinding on single speeds and fixed on trails in the last few years and I'm ready to spin up the steep stuff.
  • I like Surly's Instigator. I like it because like most Surly bikes it's pretty versatile for a mountain bike. It doesn't have horizontal dropouts, which I like for a mountain bike. But it can take disc brakes or canti's. It's steel, which is a must for me. They make a nice rigid fork for it, but the frame is designed for a front suspension fork. If I bought the Instigator, I'd likely try it with the rigid forks first, along with absurdly fat tires, then ease into the suspension forks if I felt I needed them. It's been about 8 years since I rode a suspension-forked bike, and I didn't care much for it.

Once I decide on a frameset, the shifting will still have to be friction thumbies. The saddle still a B-17. There's some stuff that just doesn't require changing. I will fight the urge to put fenders on it. I will fight the urge to put a rack on it. I will keep it pure in the "trail" way.

We'll see what happens with the other bikes and what kind of cash flow I can generate if I get off my arse and start another round of bike selling. I've got time to think on it.

This just in. Missoula is small and flat, but it's a cool event regardless.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Poor Man's Pugsley

Full frontal shot here.

I should never say never, but I don't think I'll ever buy or put together a Pugsley unless it lands in my lap or is otherwise given to me. But I have been interested in the super fat-tired bike version of the Hummer since I heard about the development a couple years ago.

Local bike shop owners: will one of you please build up a couple Pugsleys and rent them by the day? Pretty pretty please?

Until then, the Fuji Turd bike has evolved yet again. It's becoming such a great bike. I just scored these insanely mongo tires on Craigslist. At 35 psi, these guys will just about roll over anything. No skill required to ride this bike. Before I put the "summer" tires on here (note lack of fenders too -- just no room), I updated my site on the evolution of this bike. I've really been feeling the love for this one of late.

Liza also made a page on her new Super Course.

There's talk of a Saturday night (4/28) Centennial Trail ride. If you're interested please contact me.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Daily Driver

I see this bike every day on the way home from Maddie's preschool. I was a bit early today in picking her up, so I stopped and took a cell-phone-photo.

The bike is an old AMC single speed. I really am a sucker for the cantilevered frame. It's just such a nice, sensible, classic look. This bike seems typical of most cantilevered frames: stamped dropouts, cool stacked-plate fork crown, generally cheap steel components. Looks comfy though. It seems longer than most of the cantilevered framed bikes I've seen, but maybe that's just an illusion. I like the steel fenders and the chain guard too.

I've watched this bike sit in the elements now for just about a year. It's not moved. It's just slowly dying. In the past, I've attempted to liberate bikes from these types of situations. A few weeks ago I saw an old Schwinn Varsity in a junk pile. I don't like Varsitys at all, but a lot of folks come to me for bikes and if nothing else, it could make a cheap fixed gear for someone to play around on. I left a note on the door of the house that said something like, "if this is going to the landfill, I'll take it and give it a home. Call me..." No response on that one.

I really don't want to buy bikes like this -- I don't want to give anyone money for them. Even though this bike has sat out for the last year, I fear human nature is such that if I went knocking on the guy's door and and inquired, the bike would become much more valuable to the owner. What is now a bike rusting slowing in a heap of junk will become a "classic" or "vintage" ride. I just want it to ride it. I want to pump up the tires and see what it's like to coast down a long gentle hill on this long wheel based-beauty. I don't want to sell it.

It was basically a department store bike back in its day. It was one level above junk or toy status, and now it's just an old junk-toy bike. It's not a valuable bike in monetary terms. But it's worth riding and liberating from the junk heap. After I rode it for a while, I'd throw a basket or a rack on it and give it to just the right person.

With the fenders and the ability to carry stuff, you've got a perfect daily driver for someone who lives downtown, in the Valley, or in Brown's Addition where hills are not an issue.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Spinning Spokane

I have nothing to say. But Liza and I took a spin out to the city of Spokane Valley today and had a nice ride together. I took 4 pictures. Two of them are sort of interesting. So, 50% interesting is pretty good for me.

Which one should lead?

This is my favorite because of the clouds:

But it doesn't exactly say, "come ride in beautiful Spokane!, where the roads are barely paved and there's a 7-11 on every corner!" But then, seen another way, a guy could say: "Come to Spokane, where the roads are wide open. Who needs bike lanes, when you can have a whole car lane!?"

Then there's this beauty:

That's an over the shoulder shot, which explains why the nice Pontiac or whatever is the main player in the photo and not Liza. Or the nice trees. But check out the girl holding up the wall in the back ground. And the building behind the bridge is nifty too. Kind of cool. It would rule if the stinkin car wasn't hogging the whole show.
And who says Spokane needs spinning anyway? I think cycling here rules.

Monday, April 16, 2007

3rd Tuesday is Tomorrow

Which can only mean one thing: Bicycle Advisory Board meeting. Info here:

All are welcome.

While we're on the subject, the commuter route program is also in full swing. It must be Spring, because after going for about 4 months without following anyone, I've done two in the last 5 days. Here's the one I did this morning.
If you commute, at all, in Spokane, please email me so I can get your route!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


(Note: The pictures here were taken on the way to school yesterday -- my old camera has a busted LCD view finder, so the pics aren't ideally composed.)

Maddie is doing great on the tandem. Toe clips are essential for her as she gets used to sharing a drive line with another rider. It's been a learning experience for all of us, since none of us have really spent much time on a tandem.
Maddie took a fall on Sunday when she was standing up on the pedals. Other than a little scrape on her cheek, she really wasn't hurt. It did scare her though. I'm not much for the fear-based school of teaching, but she certainly got the idea about not standing up on the pedals. And she got right back on.

We're digging it.

After a couple days of riding, here are the upcoming mods:

  • Fenders - Planet Bike is back ordered on 20" rear fenders, but a front fender will go on in the next couple days.

  • Racks - The rack that is on there is more rigid than I expected from the pictures, but I will be putting the Tubus Cargo on there to hold up the grocery and camping loads we'll be putting on there. My buddy, Alex, is learning to braze, so he's going to build us a front rack some time this summer.

  • Forks - The folks at BikeFriday will sell me a new fork for $75. Right now the front wheel is running a drum-brake. I'd rather run a dyno hub for proper, no-brainer lighting. So, we'll get a new fork with canti posts a put some V-brakes on the front.

  • Lighting - I've got a 20" wheel with a Schmidt dyno hub just waiting for this bike. We'll wire the trusty E6 up front and a home-made LED light on the back fender. Since we'll be running the Tubus, I'll also put a DT-Toplight on the Tubus for an always-on rear light.

  • Handlebars - I'm not a huge fan of the straight bars. Liza is ok with them. I'd like to put drops (Noodles) on there. One issue with that though is reach. So I've been talking to the folks at BikeFriday about making an adjustable stem. Co-motion makes a nice one. That's what I want on there. We'll see. Putting drops on there would be a considerable expense since I'd have to get the fancy adjustable stem and new brake levers for the v-brakes.

Friday, April 6, 2007

First Impressions

Got the tandem. Liza and Maddie took it for a couple turns up and down the alley yesterday, then a couple laps around the tennis courts today.

Me: Maddie, do you like it?

Maddie: I don't like it. I love it. It's awesome.

That is a direct quote. She's 4. Liza likes it too. Score one for the old man -- a bike purchase the whole family loves.

This bike will change our lives.

We need to do some fendering and lighting and baggaging and handlebarring and general fussing, then we're good to go. But it is ridable now.

I foresee many an overnighter at Riverside State Park this summer.

So excited.