Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Westside Wrap Up

I'm pretty sure that this rack/child configuration is not officially supported by Alex, but it does work for short hotel hallway rides.

We spent the last few days in the Seattle area. Some fun/family stuff and some work stuff.

I didn't ride much. But I did get my rack. And we saw a few interesting bike things.

Check out the tandem here. If you look closely you'll see a dog in the back basket too. These two were happily chatting as they cruised down the main drag in Ellensburg.

I also saw this interesting twist on a wheel lock. I've seen these on cars before, but this is the first bicycle wheel lock I've seen.

When I got home today, I had a bunch of work stuff to do, then I put the fender and light and low-rider rack back on my 520 and took a quick spin.

Man I love this rack. It just completes this bike. It just occurred to me tonight that with this setup, I can easily pile my winter sleeping bag (which is huge) on the front rack along with my hammock and pad. Then the food/clothes/etc can go in the small Ortliebs on the front low-rider. This is a perfect set up for S24O's this time of year.

This bike is getting so close. I still need to get a new headset for it. In fact, if I can find a shop that can do this while I wait, I may try to get it done this Friday.

And I'm not insanely crazy about the crankset (Sugino XD2) and the tires I'm running (Maxy Fasty and Nifty Swifty).

When I kill this chain I'll probably swap out the drive train:
-- I have a slightly used XT rear derailleur to replace the Deore
-- I have a line on a different crank set for it (Ritchey triple)
-- Shorter bottom bracket
-- New rear cog.

As for the tires, the ones I have on there are ok, but I do prefer just a bit of tread and it would be nice if the side walls were a tad cushier. I'm holding out for Jan at BQ to source something like the Grand Bois.

As for trying out the rack. One of my first loads will be hauling posters all over town for the P2P/Scoop "Viewed By Bike" photo contest and show. How's that for a shameless plug?

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Sweet. Alex finished my rack today. I'll see it, load it up, and ride with it tomorrow. Looks perfect. I'm a lucky guy. More here:

Friday, October 26, 2007


Critical Mass Halloween ride tonight. 4:30 PM at the Carousel. Costumes encouraged.

Liza and Co will be doing a post-func pub crawl afterwards -- likely to start with food at Isabellas.

Halloween is Liza's favorite holiday.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Click picture to go to and read about this legend.

For some reason, I've gotten a bit grumpy and sad about two bikes that I've let go in the past. The most likely explanation is that Liza and Maddie have been gone for nearly a week now and their absence is no longer novel and fun. It's just lame.

Anyway. I was at Wheelsport Central last week picking up some donated parts for Pedals 2 People when I saw my favorite Stumpjumper: the 1985 orange one... with canti brakes on the rear (instead of U-brakes). My heart skipped a beat when I saw it because I thought it was mine. Mike (Sully to those that know him) assured me that the customer that brought it in was the original owner and decent guy, so I didn't want to insult him by taking down the serial number -- after all he's donating a bunch of stuff.
(btw: I know this bike is on craigslist now... that's part of the painful deal. no need to point it out)

But it stuck with me and I've been thinking of that damn bike for the last couple days and how stupid I was to leave it in my parent's back yard and how lame bike thieves are and what kind of jackass would steal such a weird looking bike and if the jackass did know how special the bike was and still stole it what a king of jackasses that person must be.

Click pic for big. Or click here or here for more pics.

The other bike is the Bridgestone Atlantis. My buddy Joe found it at Goodwill a couple years ago. If you know the Bridgestone Atlantis story (only made in Japan, only 300 made, etc etc), then you know how special this bike is.

We flipped it online the same day we bought it. The lady who bought it was nice, but new to great bikes and ended up taking her LBS's advice to kit it out with a bunch of carbon bits. That sort of broke my heart then, but now, with time the fact that we let it go and its ultimate build out makes me sort of barfy feeling. Really.

What's ironic and crappy about the Bridgestone Atlantis is that it fit Liza perfectly but she just wasn't there yet. We've just spent a bunch of fussing and money building up essentially the same bike with Liza's RB-1.

Oh well.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Alternative S240

The over-the-shoulder shot

The plan: my buddy Jon and I would leave Spokane at around 3:30, ride to Cheney via the trail, get room at the Willows Springs Motel, eat, then ride out to Sprague the Columbia Plateau Trail for drinks at the Rusty Rail. Forecast: high winds, rain, and low-30's.

This was a great twist on the S240. The drinks and motel idea seemed like a nice alternative feature to the S24O.

(Aside: We took the Fish Lake Trail out to Cheney. Take a look at this picture here: someone did some trail work on Thorpe road. I think we were the first to ride it. I had been on this section a day previous with Patrick and this trail was not here. It's nice work.)

After a great dinner at a little Mexican place in Cheney, we headed out on the trail. It was 6pm.

The Columbia Plateau Trail is mixed surface: a lot of rail rock, some crushed gravel, and a bit of hard pack for small stretches. It runs through the Turnbill Wildlife Refuge. It's a beautiful ride.

About 2 miles into it, my gut began to tell me this was not a good idea. At about 7:10, after a solid 70 minutes of riding, we were only about 9 miles down the trail and I flatted.

As I fixed the flat I started doing some math. We had another 9+ miles of trail, which would likely take us another 1h 30m. Then we had 8 miles of road; figure an hour assuming we took a rest from the pounding trail before we got on the road. That put us in Sprague at about 9:30. Assume an hour or so for food/beer, then we'd be arriving back in Cheney at about 1 AM.

Instead of rain, the skies began to clear and the temperature was dropping quickly. I was prepared for all of this, but for some reason I just wasn't wanting to do the ride. I was nervous and I couldn't put my finger on it, but my anxiety was making the ride a chore. This stuff is supposed to be fun, not some kind of ultimate challenge.

After I mounted my fixed tire, I apologized to Jon and asked if we could go back after Amber Lake. I spend a mile or so trying to rationalize my anxiety, but it wasn't really squaring up; it was irrational anxiety. I think he was disappointed, but he was very accommodating and cool. We got back to Cheney at around 8:30 or so, had a few beers at a local bar and hit the sack. I didn't sleep well at all.

Strange night for me, but it was fun to hang out and chat with Jon. He's one of these guys that has just a really broad scope of interests and knowledge about music, culture, sports, and politics.

We rode back to Spokane this morning on the Cheney-Spokane road, which is basically all downhill and a great ride on a cool Sunday morning in October. We had breakfast, then went to the SE Blvd Ride, where 62 cyclists showed up and rode up to Great Harvest. That was a nice way to cap the strange night.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Reminder: SE Blvd Bike Lane Celebration Ride is Tomorrow!

Rain or shine: we ride tomorrow. 10 AM at 4th and Sherman. More info here.

Friday, October 19, 2007

One of those flat days

That's Patrick. He's carrying his bike because it doesn't roll with a flat. It's a combination of an old Araya 700c rim with a Pasala tire. When that tire is flat on that rim, it doesn't roll. It flops around. Check out his smile. This is picture was taken about 1/2 way through a mile walk to the road. We had to call for a pick up. That sucks. But Patrick's smile rules. It's great to be screwed and finally throw in the towel and call for a ride and see a smile like that.

Here's the run down of flats we had today on our ride to Cheney:

#1 - Me: On the way to meet Patrick, I run over a staple. I have a spare tube, so I don't bother patching the flat. As I'm changing the flat in the rain a buddy, John, comes wandering up. He's on his way to work. It's nice to change a flat and chat with someone.

#2 - Me: Patrick and I rode from downtown to Cheney today. Right at the end of the paved section of the Fish Lake Trail, as we were about to get onto Cheney-Spangle road, I get another flat; this one is a big hole. The tire has about a 1 mm gash in it. The only spare tube I have doesn't have a long enough stem for the deep V on my Trek, so I get out my patch kit, only to find I'm out of glue. The tiny knob of glue that's in there is dried up. Patrick has no patch kit. We walk the mile into Cheney and buy a patch kit at the LBS.

#3 - Patrick: Pinch flat. Snake bites. We're on our way back and we're taking the non-paved part of the trail: lots of rail rock and big stuff. I give Patrick my spare. As I mount it, I rip the stem on the sharp edge of the stem hole in the rim. So, I give Patrick the extra tube I have (the one with the short stem). Patrick loads up the tire, pumps it up and away we go.

#4 - Patrick: About 20 yards down the trail, the tire explodes. The tire wasn't seated properly. So, Patrick patches up the tire that had the snake bike/pinch flat and we're off.

#5: About 30 yards down the trail, the patch gives out. The snake bite is too wide for a small patch. So, I try patching the tire with the ripped stem. No luck. We patch another patch on top of the snake bike patch, and it holds. This is our last tube. As Patrick pumps it up, that sharp rim edge on the stem hole gets the best of the stem and we're done.

I hand Patrick the phone.

We walk. He gets picked up. I ride back to town.

We had a great time. It's nice to ride with someone who continues to be chilled out and smiling as we dig deeper and deeper into our hole.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


It was one of those neat glowy twilights tonight. I wish I had a better camera than the one on my phone.

More Bike Blvd News

I learned a bit more about the Bike Boulevards proof-of-concept at the BAB meeting last night:
  1. Bike Blvd criteria/best practice -- see the doc that the city planning intern put together: This doc explains what they are. Has some good pictures and also explains how to figure out if a street is suitable for a bike blvd.
  2. Basic design: street painting (giant letters that are made of dura stripe "BIKE BLVD"); unique street sign toppers (think of the brown toppers in Browns Addition); some signage along the blvd, though it's not clear what; and a tubular marker (the kind you can drive/plow over) in the center of each intersection.
  3. Arterial crossing comes in many flavors, but the idea at the moment for the Post/Wellseley crossing is to have giant yellow signs alerting drivers of crossing and a semi-protected median (about 10' x 4') in the middle of Wellseley for doing two-part crossings. There were a lot of questions around this design. Hopefully we'll have a bit of time to work some of these design questions.
  4. Cost is about $2k/block with about $30k as the minimum for arterial crossing.

As discussed in the last post, the city engineers are spec'ing out two "proofs of concept:" one on Post from Francis to Wellseley and another on Hatch St from 17th to 29th. And the timeline is still enforced; we're now down to one week. It's not clear to me if this is actually going to hit the street in a week or if it's going in front of the council for emergency funding in a week.

I do know that the idea is being pushed by Brad Stark. So that makes some sense given the overall campaign politics. I'm pretty sure I don't want to go down that road here, but I will say this: Mr Stark is appearing a bit vulnerable, and this appears to be a Hail Mary during the last few seconds of the game. We'll take it.

The general BAB consensus at the meeting last night was two fold:

  1. We love the city pushing hard and aggressively to get some bike blvds laid down as a proof of concept. We believe bike blvds may be just the ticket for much of the upcoming Spokane bike master plan.
  2. We cannot afford to rush the process. The proof of concept streets must be done right -- rushing through to meet a campaign deadline is not a wise move; let's make sure the design and street choices are right. There are a number of design/implementation questions that the BAB would like to spend a bit of time resolving. There is general agreement on Post as a route. Hatch does not seem like a good route for a proof of concept. This letter from BAB'er Bradley makes a great case for Arthur Street instead.

Lastly: there is an official opening for the SE Blvd road work and bike lane today. The official opening is where the Mayor comes and cuts a ribbon and such. There will also be donuts and coffee (see you there!). There were some press releases that went out and said it was at 10:30 today. That's wrong. It's at 2pm at 4th and Sherman at the Cancer Center parking lot there.

The SE Blvd bike ride celebration/opening is still happening this Sunday. No coffee and donuts provided by the city, but at least we'll be taking a ride.

Friday, October 12, 2007

If only every year could be an election year...

It's been a banner year for the city of Spokane with regard to cycling. SE Blvd got striped. The Bicycle Advisory Board finally got the City to give us some city time/heads to help develop a Master Bike Plan. BAW is now beginning to pay a lot more attention to local politics and is even talking about putting a PT head in Spokane to help us push bicycle-friendly policy through the local government.

I'd like to think this is the result of the work we've been doing on the newly-refreshed Bicycle Advisory Board over the last year. The entire board has been updated and there's a bunch of passionate and hard-working folks doing a lot of extra-curricular work to make things happen. No doubt that has had something to do with these changes.

But there's also a subtle shift going on in Spokane. Spokane is growing up as a city. It's finally beginning to see itself as a city that is cool by its own rights. That it's not simply, the "second biggest city in Washington," or the "biggest city between Seattle and Chicago." Folks seem to be realizing that being a big city is not that great and that is what's so attractive about Spokane. We're seeing a huge increase in folks from bigger cities moving to Spokane for the quality of life and because it's not a big city and as cheesy as it sounds, we really are near nature. Now we just need to work on the "near perfect" part. I think most of these newcomers and the folks that have grown up here are seeing a very real potential to shape Spokane into a great city. Dare I say "world class?"

I think that's the reason we're seeing seeing all of this stuff happen in an election year. There's a general awakening and realization that quality of life matters a lot. That investing in stuff like public pools, parks, bike and pedestrian facilities actually may pay off economically by attracting smart people and companies to relocate here.

Oh yeah. And we're likely to see $4+/gallon by this time next year. It's no secret. Smart folks are looking ahead to a time when driving a mile to the store is even more of a silly financial decision than it is now. Walking and riding a bike will begin to make more and more sense financially in the years that come, regardless of what the big pols would like us to think.


The latest BIG NEWS: it looks like the city is going to push through bike blvd "proofs of concept" BEFORE the election. That's two weeks away by the way. We're talking about getting the signs and stripes laid down in the next two weeks. Yow.

The word on the street is that North Post from Francis to Garland will become a Bike Blvd and Hatch on the South Hill from 17th to 29th. I think Post is a great candidate. This will nearly make a continuous route from downtown that is pretty ridable for most. The Hatch decision -- I could think of a couple other candidates if you wanted to test effectiveness that would be much better (especially E-W route across 33rd-34th: from High Drive, passing by Comstock, Sac, Library, All Saints, and into SE) -- but that's just my opinion.

The bottom line: it would be so flippin cool if we got some Bike Blvds out of the election year. The Post route will be used heavily by many folks for sure. Let's hope the design is solid; it doesn't sound like there will be much in the way of input solicitation.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Mark Your Calendar - BAB Ride

Please join the Bicycle Advisory Board to celebrate SE Boulevard Bike Lane opening!

When: Sunday, October 21 at 10:00 AM
Where: Start at Fourth and Sherman; Stop at 30th and SE Boulevard/Great Harvest Bread Company
Why: To Celebrate the completion of the SE Boulevard bike lanes

Join Spokane's Bicycle Advisory Board and cyclists from around the region for a bike ride to celebrate the opening of the SE Boulevard bike lanes. Riders will depart from 4th and Sherman at 10:15 AM to ride the new and previously existing portions of the bike lane to 30th and SE Boulevard. We will then meet at Great Harvest Bread Company for a no-host celebration of camaraderie, coffee, hot chocolate and fresh baked goods. This just completed project is the first of what the BAB plans to be a cohesive network of bicycle lanes, routes, paths and boulevards that will connect neighborhoods to the city's core, providing safer and more enjoyable alternatives to driving in and around Spokane.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Bull, McMansions, Palouse, and a Screwed Wheel

We saw this crazy dude up in McMasionLand on a Friday ride on the dirt roads of the Palouse. This guy lives at one of the few remaining normal homes that once dotted the Palouse before the "look how rich I am" crowd moved in and built enormous and silly "ranches" and "Tuscan-inspired villas."

I forget that Liza has not ridden most of these roads. Now that she has a bike that is comfortable for long rides on interesting roads, we've been hitting some of the old chestnuts: Ben Burr, Windmill, Jamison, Hilby, etc. It's a lot of fun to ride these with her. It feels like rediscovering these rides.
These are fun roads to tool around on when it's a cool, clear fall day: super low traffic, lots of gravel roads, scenic. Soon I'll be bringing the Jetboil for longer rides on cold days. I love finding a good scenic rest stop (think Kiesling Rd off of Big Rock -- looking south west) and making a hot pot of soup and some tea to enjoy the view with.

Finally, in the "I forget how much I don't know about anything" department. I built up a great wheel this afternoon. It was on the money: I took my time, reading the tension frequently, stress relieving as I went. It was a dialed in, tight-ass wheel. Best ever.
Until today, I've stress relieved with a crank-arm, per Sheldon's method. Today, I tried doing what I've seen Liza do: grab the rim at 9 and 3 o'clock and apply pressure by pressing the down on the rim, with the hub into the ground. After I finished the wheel, I gave it a final stress reliever, and relieved it too much. I had the rim seam right at 12 o'clock and rim just buckled. Shit. I didn't like the Mavic MA4 rim anyway, but crap. I'm going back to Sheldon's method of stress-relieving from now on.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Sunrace Sturmy Archer ASC -- Maybe it's not vaporware?

(This image sniped from Sheldon's ASC technical page)

I just got this email from the folks at Sunrace:

Hello Everyone,

I would first like to thank everyone for their interest in our upcoming remake of the ASC. As we grow closer to production I will be posing questions on our blog regarding what you would like to see in the final production model.

The first question is regarding the acceptable amount of backlash in the hub. Meaning the amount of slack there is before engagement. The original was quite sloppy in this regard but we are interested in your opinion. The question is up now in the form of a poll and if you have a minute and could head over to the blog and add your 2 cents I would greatly appreciate it!

David Prosser
Sunrace Sturmey Archer
3212 Jefferson Street #409
Napa, CA 94558

The ASC was Sturmy-Archer's 3-spd fixed gear internal hub. Oh. The holy grail.

He says, "As we grow closer to production..." so it's still on the drawing board. Hopefully next spring or so? Or is it a year away, to ship on '09 bikes?

So there's that. I wonder how much it will cost? Will they ship with multiple OLD's? Hopefully they'll have a 120mm, a 128mm, and a 132.5mm version. Assuming it's not crazy expensive, I'll buy one and make it work on my Trek 720.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


I love meeting commuters for the BAB commuter project.

I just got this email from a guy who I'll be following soon:

I am basically a new bicycle commuter. When the gas prices went up in the early summer, my wife an I decided that my Dodge 4x4 should be replaced with a bicycle. I was sceptical at first, but I am saving over $400 a month and I feel great every day I ride, not to mention that I have lost at least 15 lbs. I haven't had a bicycle since I was 15, I am now 34, but as they say, you never forget.

He goes on to explain his route, etc.

These are my favorite kinds of stories: "I sold my car and started biking..." I guess I like it so much because it's very similar to the transformation I've gone through in the last few years. I've also watched my wife become a daily cyclist and my friend Ben too. A new friend, Jason, has also is taking up every-day cycling over the last few months.

It's a transformation I'll never tire of watching and one that I hope to see many more times.

Monday, October 1, 2007

It's Fall

Seems like just a couple weeks ago we were dying of heat and I was tooling around in short-sleeve shirts at all hours of the day. Now it's consistently chilly and wet and the trees are turning. It's great.

Since Liza built up her RB-1, she's not ridden her favorite bike much. She rode it this morning. After riding a couple blocks and banging down the notoriously roughed up 26th Ave, she remarked, "this bike would be so great with 650B's..." It's a drug. Take a well-made, smart bike and put poofy tires on it, and riding is so much more enjoyable.

Last week on the way to school, we noticed that this tree had suddenly changed colors. Liza is really into fall leaves. (And quails.) She wanted a picture. Maddie jumped off the tandem and there we have it: The Fall 07 Portrait.