Monday, June 30, 2008

Speaking of Flats

My brother-in-law is in town for a week. He brought his bike, which he's just starting to kind of ride more. He got a flat today on his way up the south hill. He had all the stuff to change his flat, but had never changed a flat on a bike before.

Some other cyclist stopped and helped him out. Cool. If the anonymous cyclist is reading this: thanks for being a cool cyclist.

I always try to stop and make sure broke down cyclists have what they need. I'm pretty good at it, but I'm going to be better, because my BIL, who is quiet and probably didn't go on and on with thanks, was really thankful. It's a nice way to bring new cyclists into the fold as well.


If you want to know what Spokane would do with $50 million dollars for a transportation mode shift to include more cycling/walking, read the SmartRoutes plan. This plan was just released today and will go off to the US DOT for the 2010 Transportation funding cycle.

A bunch of people threw in on this plan to pull it together in the last couple months. The main driver was Eve Nelson at SRTC. It was a herculean effort to make this happen. Nice job Eve.

Italian dude with his folder. Liza took this picture a couple years ago.
She asked him if he would mind if she tooka shot of his bike.
He said he didn't care, then he struck this pose.

Great Divide Update

Mr. Blaine is hanging in there; he's about in the upper middle of the pack. Sounds like stomach issues are plaguing him. The number 2 rider dropped out today as did another rider. From the GDR update page, it sounds like this is where things go from miserable to gruelling.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Another Reason To Go to an Indians Game

Yes, that's a Ute hiding in the shadows

I am not a sports guy. Seriously, I could care less who wins any basketball, football, or baseball game. I don't really care who wins the Tour either. When my buddy Taylor was racing the other day, I really wanted him to win, but frankly, the fascination with major league sports in this country weirds me out.

All that said: I LOVE going to Spokane Indian's baseball games. It's a great family summer time thing. The games are high scoring, the beer is cheap, and all the seats are great, especially the cheap-o ones on the 1st base outfield side.

In addition, the club has a sweet new (secondary) logo, with Salish words in it. That's just cool.

Now the ball park has a new bike rack. The rack was made with the recycled hunks of steel tubing that resulted from the remodel during the off season. And the rack is a good design.
Go to a game. Here's the schedule.

Full disclosure: I got a free Indians coffee cup for my ad-hoc-bike-rack-consulting service. So I guess that officially makes me a shill. I was determined not to take anything in return for going out there and agreeing that the place they had picked for the rack was a good place. But -- the mug, with the Salish language logo on it -- was more than I could say no to.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Exploring Dirt Roads

The plan. Click to go to Bikely and see the route.

I like finding new dirt roads and exploring areas that are not traveled frequently. These two goals go hand in hand. On Friday, I'm going to check out a stretch of forest that I've looked at a lot online, but have not actually ridden much. The section in the picture above is about 18 miles of logging/back roads between Freeman and Green Acres. From the looks of it, we'll see some good climbs and lots of dirt roads and hopefully some nice views.

Sometimes it's hard to find a route through these kinds of areas. If you go to Google Maps and look at this area, this route is not apparent unless you toggle between Map view and Satellite view. Those are apparently two different data sets of the same area.

I wish Google Maps or Google Earth had an easy way to export paths to a Garmin-compatible format (gpx). Instead, I have to load up the route into Bikely, then output as KML (because the gpx that Bikely outputs is not compatible with the Garmin software I use -- it used to be, but something changed), then use some freeware to convert KML to Garmin-happy GPX, then dump the GPX onto my GPS unit. This will give us a basic route to follow.

If you look at the satellite imagery of this area you see a bunch of dirt roads, so it's important to have something to get through them. I used to have a bunch of maps and carry a compass, which I was only sort of good at using. But now, with GPS, any Nimrod (sorry Tarik) can get lost and die in the middle of nowhere when the batteries die!

Blaine Update
  • Check out 100km; Jason is doing some good updates there.
  • Mr. Blaine is holding his own plus some. According to the Leader Board, David was first into Wise River checkpoint yesterday.
  • I worry for his rest.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Following the GDR

A GDR race named Simon.
Picture sniped from the GDR update site. Click pic to go to the site.

I've spent a bit of time watching progress for the GDR race. I don't really know David Blaine that well, but it's still more exciting to keep track of the race when you have even a wee bit of a connection to one of the racers.

So, going into Day 3, one racer has already dropped out at 26 hours into the race. His rack broke and zip ties would not fix it.

Check out the links I added up there on the right. I think they are the most interesting.
Here's a run down what they offer:

GDR Update
For daily updates go to GDR Updates. A couple days ago they posted a quick bio/pic of each GDR rider. This is good stuff.

Click on the pics for high resolution pictures where you can see a good close up the bike/gear the riders are hauling. I spent about an hour pouring over those pictures yesterday.

Gear and bike choices for this kind of event are all about trade-offs. I think David's approach of optimizing for simplicity is the way to go. It seems you should minimize the uncontrolled variables. I look at some of these double-suspended mountain bikes with index shifting and carbon bits and I'm skeptical. More complexity means more tools/parts, which means more weight, bulk, and general packing fussiness, which I would think are the biggest enemies of such a race.
Man, that's some serious arm-chair quarterbacking.... apologies. As someone once said: these guys have chunks of guys like me in their stool.

GDR Leader Board

Anyway, For a run down of who is where in the race, check out the spreadsheet at GDR Leader Board. Right now, Mr. Blaine is in 3rd place -- but really, it looks like there are 5 guys at the front within a half hour of each other.

David's SPOT Finder
SPOT shows near-real-time-updates of where Mr Blaine is at. You can also look through the time stamps to get a feel for his speed and rest. He did well last night. Looks like he slept for around 7 hours or so. That's good sleeping. I wonder how his rest patterns will evolve over the course of the race.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tuesday Bike Stuff

Item #1 - Jonathon Chung

Jonathon is from Taiwan. He's been riding around North America since last August. He's traveled 7400 miles so far. I've been signed up as a host on the warmshowers list for over 2 years now, and while I've taken advantage of others' hospitality, Jonathon was my first guest. Yay.

What a cool guy; very gracious.

Some facts:
  • 50 lbs of gear
  • Started from the mid-west, went to Toronto, then down the east coast, through the south to San Diego, then up the west coast to Vancouver BC. Now he's on his way back down to LA via the Great Divide.
  • His visa expires in August so he's flying back
  • He's replaced a spoke, 3 rear tires, the rear cassette, and the rear derailleur. Not bad.

Item #2: Bad Lands Summer Twilight Series race at Lincoln Park

My friend Taylor (no. 240) came in 3rd in the "B" class. The first 3 finishers were all within a foot or so of each other as they blasted over the finish line. What a great race. It's fun to watch and learn about racing and the Lincoln Park race is perfect because it's such a small course. You can walk around and see the different sections and the challenges in each section.

Taylor (in blue) and the dude in red broke away from the pack early in the race for a $2 preme. (Cha-ching!) The guy who won the race ended up breaking from the pack in the last few minutes, but otherwise the pack stayed back by about 20 seconds for the entire race after the preme. For the majority of the race, Taylor pulled the guy in red up a slight grade at the back side of the course, while Taylor drafted the red guy on the down grade.

Next Lincoln Park crit is July 15th at 6PM. Put it on the calendar now. This is a great after-work no-money-fun event.

Item #3 - BAB'ing

I wish I could've stayed to watch the C's and A's race, but I had to get down to East Central Community Center and pitch my favorite route to the neighborhood council. The route goes through Playfair, which is going on the auction block very soon.

My mission was to get the neighborhood to make sure bike/ped access is baked into the plan regardless of who ends up with this key connection. The neighborhood ended up passing a resolution that supported access to Playfair as long as it didn't disrupt the sale -- so it's sort of a good thing, but I would've liked a stronger statement with some bite.

Item #4 - Mr Blaine update

According to SPOT, it looks like he's bedding down outside of Libby MT tonight on the southern tip of Lake Koocanusa. The race starts on Friday.

Item #5 - FBC Ride tomorrow night

Meet at Benidittos South at 8. Ride at 9.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Loon Lake Loop

View Larger Map

Another great day of riding. Today capped a great weekend of riding and hanging out. Joe and I enjoyed the perfect weather today and took a spin out to Loon Lake. We stuck mostly to the back roads. We enjoyed some nice dirt roads. And I got bit by a dog -- on my bum.

This is a typical road that we traveled today. Nice rural roads with low traffic.
This is a tick I found on my ankle as we sat and drank a cup of coffee in Deer Park. Pretty gross, eh? Nasty little parasitic bastard. When I got home later in the day, I took a shower and two more fell off me. Yuck! I expect these little bastards hitched a ride when Alex and I rode through the waist-high grass a couple days ago. I don't know how they survived one shower on Saturday, but not today's? Whatever. I hope I got them all.

Joe's sister-in-law has a cabin on Loon Lake. After lunching at the famed Dinner Bell, we drug out the kayaks and took a quick spin around the west side of the lake. I've not really done any kayaking. I tipped it over instantly and got soaked. Otherwise, I found it to be a perfect complement to cycling. Your legs just lay there while the upper body does all the work. Fun.

This is a typical phone-cam shot: cruddy. The clouds were amazing today. I'd never thought of our clouds until the discussion on MetroSpokane about our amazing Spokane clouds last week. Yeah, we do have pretty sweet clouds.

The area we rode through was really neat in its ruralness. Unlike the south/palouse area, which seems to attract the McMansion crowd, much of the north west area is still more traditional rural. There's a McMansion or McWanky Northwestern Log Cabin here and there, but overall, the region is really charming and still has a lot of original, small churches and lots of grange halls. All of these buildings were in operation.

When I got back to Spokane, I showered quickly and pedaled up to my parents' house for a Father's Day feast (Liza and Maddie are out of town this week). Look at that dinner: corn on the cob; grill roasted asparagus salad; grilled portobello with tomato, sweet onion, basil, and mozzarella; and a grilled pepper stuffed with herbed rice. WORD!
My mom is such a great cook.
-Begin shameless plugs
My mom's cooking company website: Apple Charlotte Cooking Company.
And, P2P dinner-fundraiser with Apple Charlotte
-- end shameless plugs

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Alex Visit

Alex visited over the last day and half. We had a good time.

We went on a S24O on Thursday night. Alex photo'd and blogged the Badger Lake run on his site. We had perfect weather. It was nice to wake up and be able to pack up without freezing. I think the low was in the high 40's. Very nice.

Alex suggested trying a different way back, so Friday morning we discovered a new chunk of a road that I'd not taken before, which turned out to be a winner. If I make the Badger run again this year, I'll take it again. It's neat because it's basically a deprecated road that cuts through some old forest and meadow. Much of the road had grass as tall as our wheels.

Me wrapping bar tape on the newly adjusted bars. Click pic for more Alex pics

When we got back on Friday morning, we replaced the stem on my 520 Porteur build that I've been fussing with. The bars are now much lower and don't force you to sit so upright. It's much better, but I think I may still end up finding a new bar.

We had a BBQ with friends at my house and then took a ride. Alex hauled much of the beer on the porteur, while Jon hauled some in a bucket pannier, and I hauled a tiny cooler on my bike.

This morning we rode Maddie's Bike Friday Family tandem downtown to decorate bikes for the Out Spokane Pride Parade.

Between Alex, his crud, my crud, and me, we had about 400 pounds on the tandem, so it handled a bit differently than it does with Maddie on the back. I wish we had a picture of us on the bike. My dad took a shot. Maybe he'll send it so I can post it here.

Alex and I sort of felt like circus clowns on that bike, but it was fun to get a taste of tandem riding with an adult. Alex demonstrated how by leaning in the back he could really influence the direction of the bike. I also learned that I should adjust the front brake. Stopping at the light at Monroe and 3rd after the fast descent was a bit to squishy for my liking.

As the P2P'ers lined up for the parade, Alex had to get to the airport, so he taxi'd out. I've been wanting Alex to come and hang out in Spokane for a while so it was good to finally get him here.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Loren and David

That's Loren. I've known Loren for over 20 years. Nice guy - a kind and gentle soul. I caught him today just as he finished riding his bike up Monroe. The steep part of Monroe. The crazy steep hard part. With a full team's worth of baseball crud slung over his back. Strong guy, that Loren.

Here's the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow: it's Huckleberry's! There's a rainbow there. Damn phone camera.

New links at the top right. Mr. Blaine is heading for Montana on Monday. A week from tomorrow, the Great Divide Race begins. Check out the SPOT link. David can push out regular notifications of where he's at on the course. Pretty cool.

I'll attempt semi-regular updates of David's progress here.

Good luck to you sir.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Thinking Happy Thoughts

That was not snow this morning mixed in with rain.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Up coming rides and other fun bike stuff

Add this stuff to your calendar...

On the rides: if you're hesitating on these rides because you are thinking they may be a bit too much or too far or too fast, then don't. These are slow, chilled out, super social rides, where many people are riding cruisers.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Racking Spokane

There is movement afoot: real movement towards putting some bike racks downtown.

As usual with Good Bike Things That Happen in Spokane, there's a bunch of people working angles and pulling strings and generally doing stuff behind the scenes:
  • Former BAB member Kimberly: initiated a bike rack study for downtown (how many, where are they, where should new ones go.)

  • Current BAB member Cindy: collaborated with EWU to get Kim's study implemented by EWU planning students.

  • SpokeFest'ers: connecting with DSP and throwing in some money.

  • Andrew with DSP: finding a local vendor to produce the rack; working with the city code enforcment to understand placement; rounding up some seed money to install initial set of racks

  • EWU Planning student Beth: figuring out where the first half-dozen or so racks should go.

  • Jon at Out There: providing print ad discounts for businesses that install bike racks

I'm sure I've missed some people in this list.

This looks promising. Hopefully we'll see some racks going in downtown in the next few months.
Once the process and rules and regulations are figured out, hopefully we can get page up on the city web site or the BAB site that explains the hows and ways of putting a rack in front of your business or store.

Other rack news:

  • Plum Tree school is getting a super fancy rack/bike leaner built by local artist and eco-geek, Hazen Audel, in the next month or so.

  • The Spokane Indian's ball park is installing a super sweet bike rack that is made from recycled steel tubing that came out of the grandstands during the off season refurbishing. The rack will be sponsored by Wheel Sport.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Westside Rain Ride - more praise for the dorky rainlegs

I'm on the west side for work. Here's more crummy phone-camera pics. It's difficult to see how hard it's raining in the picture above. Take my word for it. Serious big drop rain in sheets/buckets/whatever. I took a great ride in that last night for about an hour.

This picture is supposed to show me, drenched. Or seemingly drenched. I love these dorky rainlegs. Love them. When you ride for an hour in a down pour you will be wet no matter what you are wearing. I was a bit wet but comfortable -- thanks to the rainlegs and the light O2 jacket, which did leak in the arms after a while.

This picture shows the dry spots where the rainlegs were. My shirt is super light-weight so it didn't bog me down, but it was damp -- not too wet, and mostly from perspiration.
What's amazing to me about this rain set up is that between the rainlegs and the O2 jacket, the overall bulk/weight is just tiny. And both pieces are the perfect design: they are just enough to provide the right amount of coverage. Thanks for the tips on these Kent.

Clearly the region below the knees does get wet. But when it's 60F out, wet is fine. Note that I'm back to the Shimano sandals. I wish Shimano still made the two-strap version of its sandal. Btw: the Keens gave up the ghost (after about 5 months). My last review of the Keen Commuter sandal is here. I have the replacement pair, but they're still in the box. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them.

Final bit of good news. Alex gave me one of his old racks for my RB-T. I'm a made man.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


That crappy-ass picture is all I have to show for Prom Night. Nicely done.
It was a great success. The highlight for me was the ride from the Swamp to the Baby Bar. It was around 40 cyclists, all decked out and smiling. We rode through Elk Fest and into down town. We obeyed the traffic laws and kept to a single lane downtown and generally were good citizens. As such, we were honked at. But not "get off the road and outta my way" honks, but happy honks, with waves and smiles and hoots and hollars.
This is what critical mass could look like in Spokane. The key ingredient: happy cyclists that mostly follow the rules. A couple beers to lube helps too.
Anyway, great ride Jeff. Jeff pics here and Jacque pics here. Hopefully, we picked up a few converts for the FBC rides. Next Full Moon Fiasco is June 18th.