Thursday, January 1, 2009

Cycling Spokane in Aught Eight

Last year I did a year-end wrap up about my year cycling in Spokane. It was too long. My first resolution this year is to make the year end wrap up shorter. We'll see how that goes.

Bike Advocacy and City Stuff

Another banner year. Looking at the goals from last year (finish Master Bike Plan, hire a bike/ped coordinator, and do at least one infrastructure project), we did good. We hit two of three.

Although we didn't see any big projects complete, we made critical progress on laying the groundwork for real future progress. 

The master bike plan is nearly done. It will likely go before the city council in the next month or two for adoption into the Comp Plan. The MBP is a big deal. It's a hard requirement for any real money to flow into Spokane for bike infrastructure. Here's my first post on the MBP about a year and half ago.

The other important milestone is that the city will now have a paid FT position for a bike/ped coordinator. Although the Bicycle Advisory Board has been pushing for this for many years, you can thank Richard Rush for pushing this through. Having a FT person in the city whose job it is to watch out for bike-related opportunities and to help the engineering folks do the right thing will be a huge benefit to the city. 

Goals for 2009: secure money and do stuff. Now that we've got the plan, it's time to build. There may be some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to get funding for infrastructure next year: either through the stimulus package that Obama is proposing and/or SmartRoutes

The Bikes

I could copy-paste this section from last year into this space and just change the bike models/names. When it comes to the comings and goings of bikes, I'm a predictable bastard. 

I wrote up a post last week that pretty much lays out the bike plan for the up coming year.

Here are some lists --

Bikes that went away in 08:
  • Maddie's tandem: She's all solo now. I'm hoping Maddie will be game for the Burley in a few years. The Bike Friday tandem went to a family in Missoula.
  • Schwinn snow bike
  • Liza's Schwinn
  • Bridgestone RB-1: bottom bracket cracked. I'm not sure what to do with this frame. I kind of want to save the forks for something someday. 
  • Shogun: This is just such a great frame. It went to Patrick, but it's coming back. I have neat plans for it. More on that in 09.
  • Garyized Trek 520: It's not gone yet, but it's no longer ridable as I'm already stealing parts from it. It's a fine bike, and will suit somebody perfectly. I want a bike that can haul a bunch of stuff, but I can just about haul the same amount on my RB-T "urban" bike. So the 520 overlaps too much. 

New (or repossessed loaner) bikes in 08:

2009 Goals: stick with the current crop of bikes the year through. I can't imagine unloading the 747, Rawland, or the RB-T. But I may build another bike or two. I already have a plan in mind to bring back the Shogun. 

Last year I had a goal of not buying as much crud. I didn't do so well there. This year, I'm going to go again at that. The bike projects Liza and I have queued up don't require a ton of new parts. And we're going to try and buy used where ever we can, especially now that Liza is no longer wrenching at REI, which means our sweet 30% discount goes away. Ouch.


In the community arena, it's been a great year for cycling in Spokane. The participation numbers for Bike-to-Work week and SpokeFest were both a huge surprise to organizers. These were fun events. I'm looking forward to SpokeFest especially this year.

Pedals2People continues to grow. We ended our Village Bike Project by shipping 200 bikes to Seattle to combine with BikeWorks for a shipment to Ghana. Our garage DIY community shop took off this year. We did a bunch of free bike tune ups. And we got our 501c3. There's a bunch of stuff in the hopper for next year. Mainly: getting our free bike tune ups dialed in and getting another DIY community space up and running.

Cyclocross racing community. This is a great community of people. More on that here

Jeff's FBC took off this year; it was cool to see over 70 people turn out for the prom ride on a warm spring night, buy it was just down-right amazing to see nearly 40 turn out for the Festivus ride through the cold snowy December night.

Bike writing. There are a bunch of Spokane blogs that are mostly about cycling: Jeff, Pat, Derek, Taylor, Jason, David, Ben, Joe, Joe, Jacque, Barb, Joe Blogger, Spokane Fixed. And some that have frequent cycling posts: Hank, Lazy Eye, Jon, and John.

Joel at the Inlander wrote a nice piece last summer on the state of cycling in Spokane.  And if you're a careful and diligent reader of the Slice, you'll see pretty frequent bike-related thoughts from Paul Turner in the Spokesman-Review. But it's Jon at OTM that continues to treat cycling as a mainstream topic. I'll continue to write my monthly column for Jon in 2009 and I think we'll probably see even more cycling content in his pages over the next year.

Goals for 2009

1. It would be great to see the bike community and community at large work together to do some in-town bike races. There's talk of hooking a criterium into the Garland Street fair. If I had a buck for each time I heard someone talk about how cool it would be to have a down town criterium, I'd be a millionaire. Maybe this is the year to push that? Any takers?

2. Continue to bring in new riders. If you are on a bike already, smile and wave to the newbies, especially those that are clearly replacing car trips. If you know people that are the fence about cycling for transportation, help them make the leap by offering to help them learn about routes, gear, cycling in traffic, etc. 


This has been probably my best riding year ever. The highlights:
  • Midnight century. I can't stop going on about this ride. It was the best of the year. 
  • Cyclocross racing. Same deal. I just can't shut up about it.
  • Spokane - Everett run. Although this wasn't the most fun ride I've ever taken, it was epic for me and I enjoy going back and looking at the pictures and remembering the ride. 
  • Alex visit:  Alex is a great friend. The majority of our interaction is online and a few minutes a month having lunch when I'm in Redmond for work. In the last few years we've taken a couple tours together, but this year we didn't have a plan. So it was nice that things sort of fell into place for a quick Alex visit. We rode, drank beers, and did an over nighter out to Badger. A nice weekend.
  • Trail and dirt road riding.  I've always sought out the dirt roads, but the Rawland inspired me to do a lot more trail riding. 
  • Hills. My relationship with hills is continuing to evolve. I think my favorite hill right now is Sunset Highway to WW drive(?) -- up to Indian Canyon, the back way. It's a weird route, but I like pushing from Gov't Way and seeing how well I can maintain to the top of the route. It's strangely satisfying. I like that Hill because it's not stupid steep and it's pretty steady. And it's just the right length. Maybe 2 miles?
  • Riding with Maddie. Since she learned how to ride on her own, it's really been fun to watch her pick up little skills: signaling, braking, maintaining a straight line, etc. 
Goals for 2009:
1. Race cyclocross again. In 2009, I'll attempt to race B's. That's a big jump for me. We'll see how that goes.

2. I'm not going to make an overnighter goal this year. I'll take what I can get. Same with a long tour. I'd love to take off for a week, but that's a hard sell right now. 

3. I've got to the the long way to my Dad's. It's the Springdale-Hunter-Gifford-Barstow route that I've not done for almost 2 years! And it's a great ride. 

I think I broke my first new year's resolution already. Damn. 


Pat S said...

Yeah, nice short post, John. Really good effort. Good luck with your other resolutions.

I hate getting all serious, but it is 1/1, after all: Your excellent leadership provides direction and energy to a lot of Spokane cyclists, me included. There are a WHOLE BUNCH of people that are going to benefit from the work that you are doing now. Thanks for the tremendous energy you pour into the heart of cycling here in Spo.

Back from syrupy-ville, I'd like to note that you look seriously dehydrated in the Loup Loup picture. Try to take in more fluids in 09.

John Speare said...

Pat, thanks for the nice words. there's a bunch of people doing a lot of work in the cycling arena here in Spokane. I'm just the most vocal.

I look dehydrated? I guess it's possible that I was dehydrated. That was at about 6:30 AM; I'd only been up an hour or so and had just climbed about 5 miles. It was to be a day of climbing, with Washington and Rainy passes to come.

Apertome said...

Great recap. I enjoy reading about your rides, and I find your mixed-terrain/dirt road rides make me want to seek out more such riding. Those kinds of rides occupy the strange and wonderful place between road biking and mountain biking, and reading about your rides and those of other like-minded riders was instrumental in my trying it. So, thanks!

Parker said...

Very nice summary. And.. a downtown criterium sounds like extreme fun ! I would be down for that. Hey and thanks for all the great work you do to help Spokane become a bike friendly place, love reading your blog, keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

John thanks for all your work in 2008 with the BOB and local cycling advocacy in general.

I have one more addition to the community section: please don't forget about the local race scene beyond cyclocross. In Spokane, there are weekly road and mountain bike races that take place from April-August. Then as you know, cyclocross picks up in September and goes through November.

So pretty much, you can race bicycles locally in Spokane, almost every week, from April-November. Not bad for a little town.

Anonymous said...

John I don't read your blog all that regularly-- usually when Alex links to it, or when you say such nice things about the frame I built him-- but when I do it puts a smile on my face. As a lad raised in Cd'A and along time cyclist I know how bad Spokane used to be for cycling.

My folks are still in Cd'A and my brother in on the South Hill, so I do get to experience the new Spokane on occasion. That's is all thanks to folks like yourself. When I left the area in '88 to get to Seattle I couldn't get there soon enough. Now the Inland Empire is someplace I'd be happy to call home again.

Good luck to you in '09 and keep making the good fight.