Sunday, July 29, 2007

Midnight Riding

Mr. Blaine had a great turn out for his midnight century last night. My count (from memory) is 15 riders.

My goal was to ride out to stateline and back on the trail and be in bed by 4AM.

Chatting with David on the ride, he suggested peeling off around Evergreen and taking Hiway 27 to the Palouse home. Joe and I ended up leaving at Barker, pedaling back to Pines, then up 27, then up Sands (bad John choice -- too steep dirt road), then on the Palouse. I was in bed by 3:30.

I was sorry to leave the group. Next year I will make a more serious effort to get my act together and have a plan for the following day so I can sleep in. The riders are casual and the pace when I left was perfect for the flat trail at about 18 mph. I would not be able to sustain that pace for the hills on the homebound route, but I was curious to see how the group would've broke up on the climbs around Saltese and Palouse.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

More Goings On Over the Bike Tour

I'm still coming off my Mt. St Helens High.

Alex did a full on report here. It's a good write-up and Alex is a master photographer, look at this beauty:

Mad picture skilz. Mad.

Many times on this route I thought of David Blaine, who is looking to race the GDR. To stay in the game, racers must do about 100 miles a day. On steep mountain dirt roads, 100 miles day after day is a huge amount of dedication and intensity. We did some 20+ mile stretches on dirt/sand/rocky roads and it's slow going, especially loaded down with supplies. My helmet is off to anyone who finishes the GDR.

Speaking of Mr. Blaine: Tonight is the Midnight Century. Meet at 11:45 at the Elk for a night time ride. My buddy Joe and I will be going -- no word yet on whether we'll see it through to the end. I figure if I ride the 100 miles, I'll be home at 8am; Liza works at 9 and I'm on Maddie duty all day. So I may do a half-century so I can get a bit of sleep and not be Mr Grump the boring mean dad tomorrow.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Bike Tour to St. Helens

I just got back this morning from a great bike tour of the St. Helens back roads. With the exception of the first day of this trip, which was a 30 mile escape out of the suburban community of Battleground, WA, every single day was exceptional. I really can't do the trip justice in a measly blog post... but I'll give it a shot and put lots of pics in here.

I went with Alex Wetmore and Larry Laveen, two seasoned tourers who are about the best bike tourers a semi-rookie tourer like me could hope to ride with. These guys have been touring together for a decade and are just reliable, decent, smart, strong guys. Touring with them is really a great treat and I've been fortunate to be able to join them this year and last.

If we had a goal for this year's journey, it was to get out of civilization and deep into the back woods and see how we fared. That's what we did. We spent a lot of our time climbing: long gentle grades of the foothills; steep, rocky logging roads; and just long gravel ascents.
Payoff for these climbs came in a variety of currencies: short washed out fire roads; shady, one-lane swoopy descents with super smooth asphalt; a 20 mile-long blast off a mountain and into a valley. All and all, the actual riding was just superb: every surface you can imagine; lots of variety; incredible views; great weather.

Our final day of riding was the epic day: 3200 feet of climbing over 20 miles, about 13 of which were loose, steep, switch-back rocky logging roads -- to the top of an amazing ridge where we could see everything in every direction on a perfectly still, blazing hot, blue-sky day. Amazing and inspiring. It's difficult to recall a more satisfying day of cycling, and impossible for me to put into words the satisfaction and joy I felt after reaching the top of that mountain.

We saw Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, Mt St Helens.

Of our six days out, 3 nights were spent miles away from the nearest services. We traversed one washed out road by portaging our crap across the divide. We only had two flats, there were no other mechanical errors. For about 3 hours one morning I was too cold and woke up with numb toes; otherwise, I was comfortable sleeping.

We met a lone girl walking the Pacific Crest Trail: the only vistor we had one night in an out of the way little campsite where we were the only campers.

We ate tons of food and drank at least a gallon of water each a day. All day I was drenched with sweat and it was wonderful. I waded and washed in an ice-cold mountain stream.

It was such a great ride, and a great reminder of why I love bicycles so much. I love getting around town and getting things done on a bicycle, but there is no other feeling like the one I had after coming home after pedaling around the back roads for many days -- propelled by my own power, enjoying the sights and amazing aromas of the unspoiled forest.
Alex is going to do a full-on ride report on the tour on his site. His teaser is here.

My pics are here.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Visit with Kent Peterson

My birthday was yesterday. Kent Peterson was in town. I had a gathering with a bunch of bike nerds, advocates, riders, etc. It was fun. There are some photos on Kent's blog post from yesterday.

Kent is doing a tour of Washington over the next two weeks for his BAW job. How's that for a day job? Dang. I thought I had it good; Kent's getting paid to go cycle around the state and chat bike stuff with the locals he meets.

Anyway, in Spokane, a couple local papers interviewed Kent, one local paper sent a photographer, which was fun. I brought Kent down to a local Rocket Market to talk to David Blaine about the GDR. On the way, the photographer followed us in his car taking photos. To make sure he got good action shots, I got a flat tire on the way down Bernard. Luckily, we had to make a stop a BAB-members house about a block away, so while Kent and Bradley chatted and photo'd, I changed the tire.

Kent and I made it just barely a couple minutes late for his meeting with David... then the photographer took off. I hope I can view those pics. The guy was driving down the road while holding a big ass camera out and taking shots.

After Kent and David chatted for an hour or so, Kent wanted to visit a local bike shop before heading off to Walla Walla. We went to Two Wheel Transit where Kent and Jordan talked for a few minutes about what folks are buying these days.

From there, I rode with Kent to get him on to 195. As we went through Vinegar Flats it struck me that he would probably dig taking Fish Lake Trail. The BAW folks are pretty involved in getting the trail finished, so he was happy to be able to ride it. Since the trail mostly parallels 195 and is about 1000% more pleasant to ride on, it was a no-brainer. We rode up Thorpe and I got him on the trail and we said our good-byes.

It was a quick 24 hours...

Friday, July 13, 2007

Spokane Bicycle Master Plan: Early Days

I spent another morning doing some BAB'ing. Between work, family, P2P, BAB, OTM articles, and just trying to get rides in, these "scoping" meetings with BAB and city folk are the most exciting prospect at the moment. Two Friday's ago, I wrote up a blog post about why the work we're doing right now is so exciting to me, so I won't go into the specifics here.

The purpose of this post is to explain to anyone who reads this blog and who lives in the city of Spokane that you can provide input to this process -- starting now.

One thing I've learned in the last year or so as I've gotten involved in this city/advocacy stuff is that it's all about incremental and persistent work. It's like raising a kid (I think -- I'm new to that too); you've got to keep the big picture goal in mind at all times. You want a result that is mostly good due to many small mostly good/right decisions. At the end of the day we want a city where cyclists are welcome and encouraged to ride. That will look different in specific details to different people. I don't think any plan is going to even make the majority of cyclists 100% satisfied.

The point here is that if we can take a bit of time every couple weeks or so to really focus on this stuff and make some good decisions as we do it; we should end up with a good plan. The more thoughtful folks we pull into this process to reveiw the ongoing work, the better the plan will get.

We've made some progress in the last couple weeks. To be truthful, a really dedicated city employee named Ken has made some progress. He's produced a basic outline/list that we came up with in our first meeting -- the Scoping doc. He's also pulled all of the bike-specific pieces out of the Comp Plan and put them into a single doc.

So, what can Joe Spokane Cyclist do with this?

You can review both docs. Take a look at the Scoping doc to get an understanding of our general approach. This is all draft and it's not prioritized, but it gives the reader a basic clue as to the direction of the plan. If you have questions, comments, feedback, we'll take it. For now, feel free to comment on this doc here on this blog.

More importantly: take a look at the Comp Plan Bike Excerpt doc. Read through it. If you have opinions, feedback, comments, etc on the Comp Plan language as it exists today and you want to provide that input, let me know. For this, we want to gather input (as it tends to be much more specific) in a way that is easy for us to manage. If you read through the pdf doc I have linked here and you want to submit comments, then I have a Google version of this doc created. Contact me, and I can give you "collaborator" rights to the doc and you can add comments to it. We'll see how that works.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

These Are the Days

When it's 35F and raining/snowing/slushing and my toes are cold and I'm towing Maddie to school in the trailer, days like today are the days I dream of.

The days and afternoons are hot, but man -- the morning school ride is so wonderful. Lately, this 20 minute morning ritual is the highlight of my day for so many reasons.

I must remember these rides and keep the details fresh in my mind for next winter and for the years that follow.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


My mother-in-law lives out on Pines Rd in the Valley. I live on the south side of town. When I want to take the fun way to Maria's I like to take the Palouse Hiway to Sands Road. This ride offers some nice Palouse rollers and a few miles of dirt washboard to break it up.
On the way out today, someone threw something at me. I don't know what it was. I'm thinking plastic bottle with stuff in it. It hit me squarely on the small of my back, leaving a little gash and startling the hell out of me. I called 911, reported what little I knew (late 80's white Subaru station wagon, at least two folks in it, heading towards Mica on the Palouse).
I was surprised by how angry I was and how I really wanted revenge. As I climbed the washboards of Sands Road, I played out a bunch of different scenarios in my mind. How I would find them and totally kick all their asses (god knows how, I'm a total wuss). Or how if they were caught I would totally press charges and file a huge civil law suit.
In the end, I got a scrape and it bums me out. I do wish they'd have been caught, because they need to understand how if they had hit me as I was getting a drink, or shifting, or in some way to bring me down, I would've been hurt. Is that what they wanted? It's a dangerous game they are playing and they need to know that. Cowards.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Pedals 2 People Needs Your Bike!

I'm doing a little blog cross-posting here.

P2P is rallying for donated bikes. Think of the kids!

More info on the Pedals2People blog.