Friday, May 30, 2008

Where am I?

I've ridden past this spot a number of times and never noticed the rockwork here.

Mobile post

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Reworking the Trek 520

About a year or so ago, I had some work done on a 1983 Trek 520. It's been a good tourer and fun townie bike, but since building up the RB-T, it's a bit redundant, and I like the RB-T as a front-loader, fast, urban, trails, S24o'er, do-everything bike.

I've been wanting to build up a more traditional porteur for a while. The plan with this bike is to build a trailer for it too so I can haul bikes and crud for P2P. It will also haul a kayak for local jaunts to water fun time.

It's got a SRAM S7 internal hub. I've built up bikes around a Sturmey Archer 3sp and a Nexus 8 speed hub, and the SRAM is the least fussiest of all as far as setup, install, and tuning is concerned. Super simple.
In addition to the canti brakes, the rear hub has a drum brake. The brake is actuated with a down tube shifter. The idea is for long descents when hauling a heavy load -- I can keep the speed manageable without over-heating my rims.

The fancy inverse brake levers are for wank-points. The front rack, of course, is from Alex.

The bars are albatross and they're too high. I may have to destroy one of the cork grips and put a shorter stem on there. That's the dirt drop that was on the bars when I yanked it off the turd. I regret not fussing with that more as I built it up. Maybe I'll get some real porteur bars for it too some day.

It's a pleasure to ride. The CdV tires are like riding on pillows. Loads are easy in the front.
Liza says there's too much crap on it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend

Mellow weekend. For the second Sunday in a row some friends and I have done the High Drive Churchin Ride. It's about an hour of tooling around the trails. Roughly it translates to 20 minutes of riding, 20 minutes of pushing bikes up steep hills, and 20 minutes of resting/panting. Then we go to the Scoop for coffee.

Sunday night, we did a dinner ride. We stopped and ate outside at Bangkok Thia (formerly: Riverview). Then we tooled around the north side. Then back over the river, where we ended up at the Elk for beers.

Taylor here is training for the Twilight Race Series. He mumbled something about how his body is a temple and how a high performance machine required high performance fuel -- as he gobbled down the "moon unit" and swilled beer after beer.

Not really. Liza bought that and we all ate it. I just wanted the photo op. By the way. Put June 17th on your calendar. That's the Lincoln Park Criterium. That'll be a fun one to watch. Races start at 6 PM. The upper piece of Lincoln Park is a natural race course. Short and fast.

Here we are grouped at Ruby. On the way to pick up Mike and Beth. Top right is Mike and Diane. They both recently got new bikes. This was Mike's inagural ride on his new bike.

My buddy Alex posted a bunch of pics of his Memorial Day cargo bike ride in Seattle. Among other beauts, there was a Big Dummy, with the blender attachment in action. An older Rock and Roll similar to mine. It's pretty much built up how I want to build up mine: drop bars in the front, bar-ends, mountain stoker bars, etc. Mine is on loan at the moment, but we're repo'ing it this winter to build it up for next year. Liza and I will be going for some land-speed-records on that.

I love this trailer. I like that the wheels are sort of protected from the load and that you can load over the wheels on the flat platforms. Smart design. I have a friend that may be able to help me build something like this. I like the small steel square tubing too. I wonder how it connects to the rear wheel?

Of course there was a Kogswell P/R. Nicely appointed and hauling a trailer. A Bakfiest with a Stokemonkey and this cool-ass, S&S'd cargo bike. I wonder if this is one by David Wilson?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Lotta Watta - Riding the Centennial Trail this Weekend

My original plan today was to go out to the Valley via the Palouse. I like taking Sands road over the hill. I went about 4 blocks in the direction of the Palouse and changed my mind. The wind was blowing too hard. I've been caught on epic wind rides on the Palouse before and I'm not into it.
I figured I would check out the the flooding on the Centennial Trail. Consider this a public service. If you're thinking of riding the Centennial Trail this holiday weekend, be sure to ride in shoes you can submerge.
You can read more on the flooding in Peaceful Valley at the Out There blog.

The Edge Water Village Apartments on Upriver Drive. Can't get much edgier than that.
There were 2 sections of Upriver that were too deep to go through. One in front of the retirement place, and another about 1/4 mile down the road. Both are easy to avoid. This section, in front of the "Edge Water" ended up being deeper than I liked; my bottom bracket got submerged, but not my hubs... just barely though.

There were 3 sections of the trail east of Argonne that were too deep to ride through. Each was passable though.

This one required shouldering the bike and rolling up the knicks past the knees. I had to slog through the water on the left side of the photo, along the fence line. It's deeper than it looks from the this photo. It went up to my knees at the shallowest point.

You can see the trail going up the hill to the right to get by this one. It's easy enough to ride. There's a short and steep little descent in soft dirt on the other side.

Since I had planned on going to the Valley yesterday afternoon, I had called my mother-in-law, who lives on Pines, to see if she'd be around for lunch.
When I showed up, I could smell her kitchen 100 yards away.

Maria had just finished making a big pile of bread. She also made polpetta sugo (meatballs with sauce). I tried to have just 2 meatballs, but I ended up having 4. I also had a huge still-warm roll.

When it comes to good food, I'm so lucky. In addition to Maria, who is my Valley connection, my mother owns a Spokane cooking class company. She's on the south hill, so if I'm strategic in my timing and routing, I can usually score some great lunch fixings as she is preparing for the night's gig. She also has amazing bread. I created the natural starter that she still uses for her bread before Maddie was born, over 5 years ago. I named it Owen. I'm such a junkie for good bread.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Some Stuff

The Fuji Turd is done. If you're in Spokane and you want this frame, let me know. It'll go to the first person that wants it.

There are two conditions: you must build it up and ride it in the next month or so -- no hording (why would you want to?); and secondly, when you're done with it, you must give the frame away with the same conditions.

Comes as shown: with a post, front u-brake, and a poorly adjusted headset. Fits 2.3" knobbies (barley), has horizontal dropouts spaced at 135mm.

Party on Turd, you have served me well.

Maddie has conquered the monkey bars. She goes forwards and backwards. She's really proud of that, but for some reason, she won't let me photo her, so I have to be stealthy.

Sucky rack at Sacred Heart. I have followed a few commuters to Sacred Heart. Apparently the hospital has great facilities for employees, but I can't find a bike rack by the Womens/Surgery center.
And sweet new racks at the Rocket on 42nd. These are really "leaners," which is all they need up there, since cyclists go and sip on a beer or coffee and can watch their bikes. Nice use of plumbing pipes and fittings to make a cheap rack that is more effective than 90% of all other bike racks in town.

I laced up a wheel tonight. Thanks Sheldon for your straight-forward directions. I've only built a dozen or so wheels, but when I do, I use Sheldon's method. It's easy.

I'm tired and pissy since it looks like the wrong dust cap came with the hub, which means at least a 4-5 day delay in getting the bike on the road. Errg. I wish there was a LBS that totally rocked the internally geared hub deal.

I'll true and tension the wheel sometime this weekend. The hub is a SRAM S7. It's going to go on my 520, along with some swept back bars, a chain guard, and some more rackage. The point is to build a good townie/porteur. It's even going to have platform pedals.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Rain Ride

An unrelated string of events lined up in the last week or so that resulted in my being able to take an unplanned week of vacation this week. It's really a great treat to be able to take a vacation without going somewhere. Just not working for a week without extensive plans is righteous.

Today, I rode in the rain for most of the day. And I took my "good" camera. Lots o shots.

This is good rain too. Click the first image up above to see the sheets of rain hitting the street. But it's warm. It was about 55 all day, so riding around mostly wet is fun.

First off, I took the leap. I bought some Rain Legs. These are the height of bicycle nerdom, but they are great. They keep your thighs dry, which, if you're riding with fenders and a rain jacket, is the only place that gets super wet otherwise. I was happy to have them and based on initial impression, I'd recommend them. By the way, I bought them from WallBike. I've not seen Rain Legs at any LBSs here in Spokane.

I met Patrick, of Scoop fame, at his shop at 10:30. We rode down to his place in West Central and picked up his bike trailer. On the way we stopped at Sandifur bridge and saw a lot of water. A lot of water. Too much water.

When we got to Patrick's house, Elissa was there, baking cookies with Miyo and Ruby. I got a cookie that was still warm. Yum. As she handed me my cookie, Elissa did a double take and then promptly made fun of my Rain Legs, "oh my god! are you wearing chaps??" And all was right in the world.
Then Patrick and I went off to pick up a tree and find lunch.

After treeing and lunching, we said our good byes and I headed to the Eastern Washington Regional Office of the Washington Department of Transportation to meet with Melanie and Jody. They're engineers that are working on the "US 195 Hatch Road to I-90 Project." That's the one that touches Fish Lake Trail, the Latah strip mall area, and numerous other bits of suburban and rural properties.

I'm still processing. In the next few days I'll post a full report of my digestion of that project. But my immediate take-away is awe. I can't believe we (the royal "we:" our society) are even considering these types of projects at this stage of the game. The I-90/Hatch project is behind the North/South Corridor project (NSP) in terms of priority and funding and the NSP is mired in deep poo, so the likelihood that we'll see the I-90/Hatch come to fruition any time soon is difficult for me to buy. Anyway. Here's a teaser of what a Hatch and US 195 interchange could look like in some version of our future:

After my talk with Jody and Melanie (who, by the way, were super gracious and accommodating in allowing me to invite myself into their work day), I went off to REI to ride home with Liza. Yay.

In the picture on the left I think she's laughing at my Rain Legs. The picture on the right is a good "Bike Spokane" type promo shot.

The day ended with a BAB meeting downtown. The big news from that meeting is that SpokeFest is a strong "go" now. Lots of interest and some good sponsorship popped up over the last month or so and it's going to be really cool. This whole bicycling thing appears to be catching on.

Good day. I could get used to not working.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Weekend in Pictures

Good riding weekend. The bike above looks like an old Free Spirit (based on what's left of the decals). It's spent a good chunk of time in the river. This was picture taken on a trail that I used to ride almost daily about 15 years ago. It's behind Riverside Memorial cemetery. Back in the good old days you could take a trail from People's Park, pop up on Gov't Way for 1/4 mile or so, then back down through the cemetery and follow this trail out to Bowl and Pitcher. A really nice section of this was wiped out by the mountain of fill dirt to build the cul de sacs up there behind the mega church on Gov't Way. It's a bummer. There's a lower trail there, but it's super loose sand and in a pretty sensitive area. The other section, by the sisters is cut off as is the piece of trail across from the water treatment plant. You can still ride these trails, but you're trespassing and that's not going to make any friends for cyclists.

On the way back from 7 mile, we noticed that the southern approach to Maple Street bridge was blocked off. Sweet. My buddy and fellow BAB'er Bill has talked about the allure of riding the "forbidden fruit:" closing traffic for a day on a high-volume bridge and allowing cyclists to ride it. The concept never really clicked with me until yesterday as Mike, Jason, and I rode three abreast across the Maple Street bridge. It was great because it's such a bummer to ride with traffic. But cruising across the bridge in the middle of the day was inspiring some how. Bill's dream, by the way, is to grow SpokeFest into a ride that incorporates the closing of at least one major bridge for cyclists. It won't happen in the first year, but with a strong enough turn out and some support, it may work for next year.

That's Mike. Hauling across Maple on his righteous old Italian steed. We had a good time riding around town and riding trails out at RSP. Hot day. I had the salt deposit deal going on my shirt by the time I came home.

One missed photo-op yesterday happened when I spied a guy hauling a bike on an xtracycle. Jason and I caught up with him . I recognized him and his wife from the Master Bike Plan open houses. I'm about 90% sure her name is Nicki (I'm 100% sure that's spelled wrong) and I'm about 45% sure his name is Craig or Greg. Regardless of their names, they are cool folks and fun to chat with. They are looking forward to the FBC Prom ride on May 31st.

Speaking of which, Monday (tomorrow night) is this month's FBC Full Moon Fiasco. It should be a glorious night. Come one, come all to Pear Tree Inn at 8 pm. Be ready to roll by 9.

There's Tim. His daughter Ruby is sitting on his version of the companion carrier. He did a really nice hack with a nice padded, wide, sprung saddle and a million zipties. Sweet ride. Patty is looking on in the back ground.

Here's some synergy: Patty and Tim own Neato Burrito/Baby Bar. They are hosting the May 31st Prom Ride. There's even a Prom Decorating Committee. Tim is talking about turning away people that don't turn up on bikes. That rules.

Sunday morning. This lame camera photo shows a hill. In that hill is an amazingly wonderful descent that I've somehow missed in my time noodling around the High Drive trails. Wow. If I don't come home some day, check here first. This hill really tempts you to bomb. You can see most of the run from the top and it's got a series of turns and rollers that just encourages full speed descending.
That's Kevin. He's a British guy that just recently moved here from the UK. I met him on a Full Moon Fiasco ride. Note the On-One single speed.

I met up with Kevin and Joe at Polly Judd this morning after tooling around the trails. I followed Kevin back up. He's a typical single speeder in that he climbs quickly, it was a great challenge to keep up with him.

Joe, Kevin and I landed at the Scoop after our High Driving. Patrick and Elissa normally open up the shop at 11 on Sundays, but when we got there at 10:15, coffee was made and the cyclists started pouring in. A chunk of early morning ride cyclists came in after their loop out to Cheney. The 3 of us were there and as we sat, a couple women came in after a ride around the neighborhood.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

BTW Wrap Up

The wrap up event for BTW was a crazy success. If there's any question about how this whole event came to be or why it was so well put together -- it's due to Barb Chamberlain. As any event with this much activity and participation, there is a huge reliance on volunteers, but there also must be the puppet-master-super-passionate-task-master-project-manager-list-keeper person. That's Barb. Great job to you Ma'am.

The expectation for participation going into this thing was that around 300 people would register. Over 900 people registered. I have no idea how many people showed up at the wrap up event, but my guess is 300-400.

Now the challenge is keeping the new commuters biking.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Is it me?

I read somewhere that men have "their time of month." Unlike women, who are at 28 days or so, men's cycles are around 46 days. You become emotional and more sensitive. I wonder if I'm in that cycle right now.

I spent the last 24 hours with Dave Peckham from VBP. He's a guy that just lives his values in a way that I respect so much that I get sort of weepy thinking about it. While he was here, we had a small dinner gathering where I met a woman whose life work is helping refugees who are fresh of the plane -- and often one or two days removed from a loved one being shot, raped, or just gone missing -- to integrate into an American life in Spokane. I got the same weepy feeling talking to her about her work.

This week, I saw the real result of tons of work by tons of people to make Bike to Work week a success. Monday morning, despite chilly wet temperature, about 300 people showed up in Riverfront Park. My mother and step-father donated their time through my mom's catering company to make 400+ muffins and scones for cyclists on Monday morning. Thinking of them staying up until 12:30 AM wrapping and labeling each treat gets me all misty.

So, as I sat down to eat a burrito at Slick Rock today, I was again impacted after reading this spot in the "Buzz Bin" of The Inlander:

You can still horn in on Bike to Work Week. Just pedal in on Friday, then go to the party at the Steam Plant Grill from 4:30-6:30 that afternoon and impress people with stories of the irate motorists and potholes that you dodged all week. Be sure to wear lots of brightly colored spandex.

I'm used to seeing this kind of broad brush stereo typing in general media. Where some media outlet, in an attempt to be witty and urbane to its mostly non-cycling audience, reinforces the swaggering, spandex-clad, iron man-uberjock stereotype of urban cyclists.

It's usually not worth a second though of my time. But maybe because it's my time of month or maybe just because I'm close to a lot of the work that has gone into this event, this particular trivialization and backhanded insult hit closer than it usually does.

Is it me? Am I becoming one of those hypersensitive advocacy humourless bike freaks? God I hope not.

If so, I would appreciate some recalibration from anyone reading this. If not, I'm interested in knowing that too.

Full Disclosure:
Since Jon Snyder, the owner/publisher of Out There magazine (Spokane print monthly magazine), was the first to comment, I should make my relationship with him clear. I must mention that I get paid to write a monthly column for Out There. For what it's worth, all income from my writing in Out There is donated to Pedals2People.

Monday, May 12, 2008

High Drive Flowers and Mountain Bike 1st Impressions

This morning, Mr Evil Elf reported on the flowers gracing the High Drive trails. I'd have to say the Elf under-reported this particular event. I tried to capture as much flower as I could with my phone-cam... but the real sensation here is riding through the wonderful fragrance. These are my new favorite flowers. Wow.

I took my newly-built-up mountain bike on the maiden ride today. It was the post-build-shake-down: just a quick loop on the trails. Last time I rode this bike on these trails was about 3 years ago when the bike was built-up as a single speed.

My general impressions on the bike:
  • It sucks a ton of energy out for very little return. Riding up to the trail head where I got on the trails is a mile of pavement. It's a stretch I ride all the time, so I know how it *should* feel. Hauling this turd up there was surprisingly sluggish.
  • Very slow handling. I ride these trails all the time. But I'm always on a road-ish bike. And all of my bikes have low or medium trail, so the handling is quick and responsive. My guess is that this mountain bike, like most mountain bikes, has a trail somewhere in the high 60's or in the 70's. And with the super turd tires. Gawd. What a dog. It's great for crushing down the trail, but it doesn't respond to finesse. You gotta man handle it.
  • It's fun to have a huge bike under you that you don't really have to ride lightly on. One reason I like to ride road-ish bikes on trails is that it's fun to test my skill on different surfaces and technical sections. But part of that "under biking" is protecting the rims and basic integrity of the bike, so you have to "ride light." On the mountain bike, you can just let go. I was swooping a bit more than I do normally and even attempting wee bits of air on the "give-me" bumps.
  • V-brakes make so much sense on these bikes. A monkey could set them up properly and they stop like no body's business.
  • I need to fuss with the bars. I need to put bar-ends for better/more hand positions.
  • Even though the first two bullets are long bitchy snobby observations, I do think I'll enjoy riding this bike.

After I got home, I told Maddie about the flowers over dinner. As soon as we were done with dinner we hit the trails. Maddie is a huge sucker for flowers. She went bonkers, she noted that, "it's like a thousands little sun shines." Indeed.

S24O - Another Badger Run

I took a solo run to Badger Lake on Friday. It's nice to go alone sometimes. Alex went on a S24O with 40 friends to Fort Flagler on the same night. I'm getting the load smaller as the weather gets warmer.
That stick in the picture is really a big log. This is a tall cliff out there at Badger. Some guy died falling off one of these cliffs a couple weeks ago.

Stealthing behind some trees on the lake. I set up the rain fly so I could lay in my hammock and watch the action on the lake as I drifted off to sleep.

HEY: this Weds night at REI - 7PM. Free showing of Ayamye, a documentary about the Village Bike Project.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The deal with the Valley Chapel road closure

A little crumbling bridge over a smallish creek (Rock Creek?) is being replaced.

According to the county guy I chatted with, the bridge will be gone next week.

The creek that the bridge crosses is small enough to cross without getting too wet. And if you're wearing water-friendly-sanal-ish type shoes, crossing will be pretty easy.

That said, I wouldn't attempt a crossing during construction hours.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Front Loads Rule - I Love This Bike

Pizza is easy
I love love love my front rack. In fact, this bike (the RB-T with low trail -- AKA, the Wetmorian), is about the perfect commuter/city/all-rounder/long-rides bike. Turns out someone finally got wise is now making the Wetmorian in production. Or will be soon. I'll have more on this later, because this is an exciting development for lots of reasons.

Beer is a natural rack load

The front rack was made by my buddy Alex. He's got another one in the queue for me too. I can't believe how lucky I am to get my mitts on these racks. They're light, strong, smart, and so easy. With the proper front-end geometry, a front rack beats the pants off of any other city-commuter-easy-hauler solution. And unloaded, the same low-trail geometry that makes riding with a load so easy, makes for a really light and responsive handling bike.

200 Bumble Bars for BTW week

The gearing on this bike has turned out to be perfect. With a 44/30 up front and a 12-28 in the rear, I've never wanted higher and I can grind my way out of the few moments where I want a lower gear.

This bike is suitable for trail riding, fast-ish city riding, all-day ride-abouts, S24O's, loaded touring. You name it. I love this bike.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Pancakes and Peace

Liza works next Sunday, which is mother's day. So, we're doing most of mother's day next Saturday. My buddy Jon at Out There forwarded me a neat event happening next Saturday. It's a short bike ride Saturday morning from Manito Park to Polly Judd Park to celebrate a tree planting for peace. The ride ends with pancakes. All I need to do is bring flowers and the breakfast part of mother's day is solved.
It's a ride open to all cyclists.

The story behind the tree planting is cool. From the e-mail that Jon sent:

"One year ago, on April 29, 2007 in Tehran, Jafar Edrisi and Nasim Yousefi started their journey to promote peace and environmental conservation by cycling around the world. Since then, the Iranian couple has logged more than 8,405 km on their bikes—across ten countries and two continents—and planted 33 ‘peace trees’ along the way.
They are scheduled to roll into Spokane on Tues., May 7th and be our guests for a week before cycling to Canada. Their trip continues for another year as they plan to cycle through Japan, Korea, China, Nepal, India and Pakistan before heading back to Iran. Jafar and Nasim have received wide media attention about their peace and environmental mission, including interviews on CNN, BBC and many others.
Jafar and Nasim’s Schedule of Events in Spokane:
  • May 10, at 9 AM Planting Peace Tree at Pauli Judd Park (john note: I'm pretty sure this is "Polly Judd" at west-end of 14th where 14th hits the bluff)

Area cyclists are invited to bike to the park and enjoy a pancake breakfast.
Bicyclists will meet at Manito park pavilion at 8:30 AM as their starting point.

  • May 10, at 6 PM Welcome Reception at the Community Building (35 W. Main)
    Open to the public, finger foods and beverages will be served.

About Jafar and Nasim:
Jafar and Nasim’s both hold bachelor’s degrees in computers. They serve as International Eco Tour leaders and are both avid rock climbers and mountaineers. They each hold a grade 3 coach certificate of rock climbing as well as, ice climbing. Nasim was the head coach of the Iranian Women’s Rock Climbing team and together produced more than 10 educational multimedia CDs for children.

For more information contact Shahrokh Nikfar at 747-2785 or "