Monday, March 31, 2008

What the Hey?

GM (yes the car company) is buying Specialized bikes.

Go here for the surreal story.

Tell me this is an April Fools joke.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Phone Pics

I pretty much take all my photos now with my phone. It's convenient because I don't have to haul yet another trinket with me, but sometimes the pictures just suck. Especially low light and snow pics.

I took this photo at about 6:30 am on Friday morning. It's out there by Avista on Upriver Drive. The still river with the red sun rise and the clear coldness was really pretty. You'd never know it by looking at this turd of a picture.

Same deal here: I took this pictures at about 6:30 this morning. I was cutting the first tracks down Madison. I love this time of day, before the rest of the city wakes up on a Saturday morning. Even though the snow is driving me bonkers, it was really pretty out this morning... but a bright clear morning would've been nice too.

I think this is Sucky Bike Rack #5. This is up by Lincoln Heights at the South Side Dr's clinic place on SE Blvd. This sign is literally the only post on the property to lock up to. This clinic is across from Hastings, where a couple folks emailed/commented about the absolute worse bike rack of all time. I went looking for it, hoping to get a photo, but I didn't see it. Maybe they got wise and would rather have no rack than a record-holding sucky one.

The final picture here: the Magnolia street I-90 overpass. I use this a lot. I go to Vien Dong's a couple times a month, and I enjoy riding around the East Sprague/Cheif Gary neighborhoods. To get down there, I go through the South Perry neighborhood and cut through the windy trail through Liberty Park and then over this pedestrian bridge.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Make it Stop

I woke up at 6:30 this morning to suit up and follow a commuter. I threw a fit when I looked out the window and saw snow. On the ground. And still falling. It'll be gone by noon, but it's a bummer to still see snow as April nears.

I followed Kevin today. I met him through FBC. He's a recent transplant from UK and he's just a really cool guy. His route stays on the sensible roads, where he has the right of way and there's a lane to pass him.

The commute map is here (if you're running Mac, you must run Firefox to view the map) -- open it up and zoom in. If you're a cyclist in Spokane, you'll likely find it pretty interesting.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Lotta Love Here

I saw this beauty down at Two Wheel Transit today. Someone put some time into this bike: brazed on cables guides and rear-facing drop outs and rear canti posts, fitted 3 piece crank in there, new forks.
Scrounged fenders and 26" alloy wheels.
Great ride.
Silly to say --- I know -- but I see this bike and I see a physical manifestation of love.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

More High Driveness

"Big Air" potential

My buddy Joe and I did a quick loop on the High Drive trails this morning. We took the aerobic route: all the way down, then all the way back up. That's a good workout.
For a number of reasons, I plan on spending a bunch more time riding the High Drive trails this year. Probably the most important reason is that it's fun. I put knobbies on my RB-T about a month ago, and I have to say riding these trails is more fun with knobbies, since you can dig in a bit on the swoopy corners and curves that make these trails so fun.

This increase in funness has got me thinking a lot lately about building up a real, honest-to-goodness mountain bike. Not with shocks or anything crazy mind you, but a 26"-wheeled, big fat knobby tired, flat-barred, lots o' gears mountain bike. I'm getting an old chestnut of a frameset back from a friend, so I think it's going to happen this spring.

Chestnut. Click for story

Once I get a mountain bike, it will be fun to go find new rides. My buddy Wade is queued up to show me around the trails at Beacon Hill. Apparently there's also a crew at Mountain Gear that hits these trails once a week or so in the summer. I hope to join them on at least one of those rides too.

I also want to spend some time at Mt. Spokane this year.

Finally, according to Jake and Jonathon, there's also a great trail that goes from White Road (off of 195) and over the hill to Cheney-Spokane road area. A real lung-burner, but it sounds interesting, as it cuts a big swath of privately owned land. It's always interesting to me to see how folks can cobble a trail together that crosses multiple parcels, especially if the trail is legal.

Alex is the king of this: he's found a number dirt/trail routes through the suburban rat's nest of Redmond/Bellevue for his commute.

I'm making slow progress on the High Drive map. But what I have is here. (if you're running Mac, you must view the map with Firefox).

And if you have a favorite trail in the Spokane area that is not documented somewhere, contact me and we'll get it mapped.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Review: Rivendell MUSA Pants

I've had a pair of the MUSA shorts for a year or so. They were a bit too roomy for me so I resisted buying the pants for a while.

After wearing the Bicycle Fixation Hemp Knickers every day for the last couple months, I figured it was time to find another pant for the season. (Btw: no review required for the hemp knicks: they are $100, made in LA, tough, perfect design and execution and a bargain at twice the price.)
I got the MUSA pants a couple days ago and I dig them. They are the super lightweight quick-dry poly/plastic material that I prefer for pants.

The last couple years I've used REI's "Sahara" convertible pant for riding. The Sahara uses similar quick dry material and they have zippers at the ankles. It's nice to have the convertible option and the zipped ankles make for good taper-able pants, if you don't mind doing a quick sew up job on the legs.

The one complaint I've had on the Sahara's is that the seat of the pants wears out. After one season, I went through 3 pairs of Sahara's. They just are not made for riding, and at $60 a pop, that's just not a pant that will work for me year after year. That said, I'll probably still get one pair for this year just for the convertible option -- which is great for touring/long day rides/S24O's.

Enter the MUSA pant. MUSA is an acronym for "Made in the USA." The tag line is, "For What It's Worth." I'm not a marketer type, but that tag line seems genius to me... very GP.

Anyway, at $40, these pants are a steal. They include velcro tabs for the ankles and a nice seamless crotch area. They were clearly designed by someone who rides a bike. Thankfully they don't include a diaper/pad/chamois thing, so you can wear them daily. And I plan on it.

Hopefully, they'll ship a black/charcoal version soon. I've had mine for just about 48 hours and I've stained them with a rookie chain ring tag on one leg and chain slop/rub on the other. If they were black, no one would ever know.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Looking for a Good Time?

Here's some help with your social calendar for the week:

Bob Curnow Jazz Orchestra, with the genius jazz pianist and world-famous composer, Don Goodwin at Ichibon Sushi Lounge, 202 West Third Avenue. 8pm?

Tomorrow night
Bicycle Advisory Board meeting. 6pm. City Hall, Council Briefing Room, basement.

Wednesday night
Fish Lake Trail Public Meeting Wednesday, March 19, 2008 at 6:30pm; Woodland Center - John A Finch Arboretum; 3404 W Woodland Blvd in Spokane

Friday night
FBC ride. 8pm at Pear Tree. More here.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

First S24O o' 08

The quick sum up:

Destination: Long Lake

Lot's of rain. A couple good down pours and a lot of of consistent wetness.

I had company: Brent came. Easy guy to travel with. Look at that tiny load he was carrying! I could learn a lot from him.

My toes were numb the entire time I was on the bike. But toasty warm as I slept.
Actually: it was a S27O to be exact.
Slept great: 15F synth bag + 3/4 medium pad + hammock. Slept in til 7AM!

Suncrest hospitality

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

High Drive Trails Are Ready

I'm surprised at how dry the top trail is already. I wonder how the lower trails are. I rode the top trail before lunch today from High Drive/Bernard to 22nd -- all of the south and east-facing trail looked like the trail in this picture: mostly dry and firm. A few north-facing shadow spots had some mud and there was one 5-foot patch of remaining ice/slush.

I'm going to ride the mid-trail tomorrow down to Polly Judkins and see how it looks.

I love love love these trails. Love em.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

1st Commute of the Season

My wish for a commuter turned up a guy named Travis riding a single-speed mountain bike. It was a beautiful blustery morning today. Blue skies. Wind. Sun. Kind of cold. We rode from Brown's Addition out to the Valley. As it goes with a tailwind, you don't really know you have one until you go home. Pretty gusty.

Travis recommended that I go back into town by going on a trail that runs on the south side of the river, from about Felts field to the Mission St Bridge. I've been on this trail, but it's been a while. What a great route. That's where the pictures are from.

I think I may need to rethink my tire approach for this early spring riding, I got 2 more flats this morning. That makes 5 flats over the last 2 weeks. That's a lot. Even for me.

We're in the worse part of the year for flats: the snow/ice just holds onto the crap that would otherwise be blown/washed away with non-freezing weather. So when it all melts, there's literally piles of junk in the road. On wet days, as this morning was, all that junk is lubed up with water and just slides into my thin tires.

I like cushy/supple tires. I run Panaracer Pasalas (non-tourgaurd) and love them. They're wonderful and a great value, but with the comfort comes flats during this time of year. I've tried Schwable Marathons, Pasala Tourgaurds, Specialized Armadillos, Avocet Cross (normal and Kevlar), Continental 2000's, and a host of cheapo tires. I've also tried running anti-puncture strips. The ride for all of these tires (except the Avocet Cross) is awful and not worth the puncture resitance they offer. The exception is our tandem, where I run Schwable Marathon Plus -- or whatever their super puncture resistant tires are. I don't want to deal with changing a flat on the tandem.

I can change a tire pretty quickly, so normally, the trade-off between comfort/convenience doesn't really matter to me. But when I get a string of flats like this, I begin to rethink that approach.

Today, after my second flat, I realized that I didn't pack my patch kit. Liza was on the way to work, so she was able to deliver a patch kit. She saved me a long walk.
Finally, if you commute by bike, please help out the Bike to Work folks by telling them about your commute.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Are you commuting yet?

It's time. Today's weather has verified that it is now time to commute to work.

Since I work from home, I have to latch on to other people who get to commute daily.

If you commute by bike, no matter how short or far or slow or fast, please contact me so I can get your route. The 'why' and contact info is here.
City of Spokane is what we're looking for here. If you commute outside the city, I still may want to come and get your route.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Must Be Spring -- Love is in the Air

I've seen a ton of cyclist out this week. It was a long miserable winter and folks are ready to roll. I'm seeing roadies, commuters, kids. It's great. Liza and I think there are even more than normal for this time of year. Let's hope so.

I'm back on my waving/acknowledgment-to-other-cyclists campaign. I think some folks find the wave/head nod/pinky wave/acknowledgement of other cyclist annoying and unnecessary. It is. But I like to feel the love.

Although there's weird sub-categories of cyclists: commuters, roadies, mountain, huckers, fixies, freds, 30-y.o.-burn out BMX'ers, etc... when we're on a bike and we're on the road (I'm not counting sidewalk riders as cyclists; those are pedestrians and don't get the love), we have enough in common to share a brotherly/sisterly acknowledgement.

The blue bike here is a great bike I see parked down on Main all the time.

It's a Novara X-R. Sort of a hybrid done right from the 90's. LX components. Tange double butted steel tubing. I used to have one, but it was too small. This one is my size. With drop bars, this would make a great all rounder; trail-rider; CX'er; tourer. I once left a P2P business card on this bike that said "Nice bike."

This is the kind of under-valued bike you can find once a year or so at garage sales, or maybe on craigslist, or at Goodwill in Spokane for under $30. The one I had I found on Craigslist for $30. It had track bars and bar-end shifters on it. Nice. I rode it for a while, stripped it down, kept the components, and gave the frame to a friend. He ended up giving the frame to a woman in Seattle who intended to make it into a daily commuter, which is a great life for this bike.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Nearly There

I figure I'll be able to take my maiden ride around the block on Weds night. I can hook up the brakes tomorrow night. Then Weds I'll get my chain, some fancy new pedals, and we'll be ready to roll.

I got the chainline/tread figured out. I'm running the Sugino PX crank with 44/30 double. I hooked this to a 116mm Shimano UN73 with 4 mm of spacers on the drive side. Perfect chainline and a tread/Q of about 130.

The threadless headset is new to me. I need to work some magic to secure the decaleur w/out overloading the bearings, but I have a plan there. I like the face plate on the threadless stem. Seems like a PITA to adjust height though. Of course you only need to do that once or twice, then it's set. Jury's still out on the threadless deal.

Good seatposts in 27.0 are damn expensive. I found this old Laparde up in the P2P stash. Not a super nice post, but for $4, it's a much easier pill to swallow than the $85 I'd have to spend on the fancy Nitto that I'd rather have. But damn, man: it's a seat post! That's $85 I just don't think I'll ever spend. Well. Maybe if I had like one or two bikes then I might get them all decked out with the super fancy components. But I'd rather have a heap of good-enough bikes with good-enough parts.

Speaking of good enough. I'm running the Pasala 32mm tires on this bike. They're cushy, fast enough, and super cheap. Suntour barcons. These are wearing out. I'll probably spring for some silvers when these finally give up the ghost. CR-18/Shimano Dyno on the front wheel; LX hub laced to Velocity Synergy OC on the rear wheel. Good hearty stuff.