Sunday, May 31, 2009

What just happened there?

I had two weird wrecks this morning on the High Drive trails. I only had 1/2 hour to get a quick loop in. I wanted to get out and attempt my climb. I've been really close the last couple attempts. There's just one hard spot that I'm missing each time now: your basic rocky rooty steep section right in the middle of the climb. I'm  not convinced that I could continue the climb without blowing up, even if I can negotiate this section.

Anyway. I've got this perfect 1/2 hour loop that starts by dropping down at HD and Bernard and takes a southern clockwise loop to put me on the middle trail. I've ridden this section of trail many times. Today, I made a too-late decision at a fork to take the low-road, just a tick after starting up the high road. I attempted to ride to the low trail and went over the bars. Not so bad. No pain. Bike was fine. Kinda messed up the trail there though. I hate being one of those people. I don't know why I tried that.

On to the middle trail. This is the one that cuts right across the bluff overlooking Latah valley. I start my climb with my mind focused on the hard spot in the middle. I think this is a classic error: neglecting the trail under foot while over-thinking a section later on the trail. 

One second I'm grinding up the hill while pondering the hard part, the next I am tumbling down the side of the bluff in a somersault of dirt, bike, and limbs. When I sat up, I am literally tangled up in my bike: my right brake lever has ripped through my (new-ish) shirt, where it's hooked me. What the hey?

I'm fine. The bike is fine. On-ward up the hill. Luckily a woman and her dog appear. With an audience, I nail the hard part. I make it another 10 yards and blow up. 

A few minutes later I'm sitting at home wondering how I wrecked. I'm sitting in my lawn chair sort of dazed and staring at my bike and drinking water. The bike is leaning against the garage. Out of no where, the front tire punctures: PPPPFFFFFFFTTTTTTT. 

Weird man. Weird.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Not clipped in

I've been sort of trying to ride more with normal (not clipped in) shoes. I get tired of always wearing nerdy SPD shoes and sandals everywhere I go.

The fact is, I really like being clipped in. I could go on about how it's nice in the winter when everything is iced up, or how I feel "more connected," but the fact is, I'm just used to it. I don't think it makes me more efficient or gives me more power and for the riding I do, and I wouldn't care much if it did.

I have campus pedals (flat on one side, SPD on the other) on my commuter RB-T (linked pic does not show campus pedals), but I never use the platform sides. I always clip in.

I have three bikes with flat pedals and no SPD options: Our tandem, my Trek 720 and our Xtracycle.

The campus pedals will be going on the tandem. I missed being clipped in on last weekend's trip.

The 720 is great as an 8-speed internal-hub shopping and townie bike. I rode it today to haul some bars home and to stop off at the Perry St Farmers Market on the way home. It's just suited to platform pedals. Tennis shoes are a natural on this bike.

The xtracycle is getting used more than ever. My brother loved hauling Maddie and his daughter on it last weekend. Same deal: clipping into the xtracycle just seems odd.

I find it hard to wear a helmet sometimes when I'm in tennis shoes on these bikes. Seems so formal. I went for a beer on the 720 last night and was happily helmetless and shod in tennies. (I hope I don't regret posting anything so baity as going helmetless).

Monday, May 25, 2009

Tandeming bliss

A few people have asked me offline about how the tandem riding was going. I guess I sort of went silent after the first post on it. The fact is, our first ride was just ok and we didn't prioritize giving it another shot. Too much other stuff going on.

Liza's mom offered to watch Maddie last night so we decided to try a tandem overnighter to one of my favorite destinations: Badger Lake. This is about 35 miles away with a mix of road, trail, dirt road, and rocky "summer" roads.  

The trip was an unqualified success. We had a great time and we're trying to figure out what's next, and how to include Maddie. A friend of mine (owner of Silver Bike Tours) has offered to let us borrow his 3-person Bike Friday. It may be time to take him up on that offer. We're also thinking about borrowing a trail-a-bike-tag-along number and hooking it to the tandem. 

It would be fun to do some short overnighters with Maddie on the Centennial Trail or the Trail of the Coeur d' Alenes.

The Burley tandem is just the bomb. It's so suited to this trip. It's got big fat 26" tires on it so it was really good on the dirt and deepish sections of gravel. The drum brake is essential for the steep dirt descents. Overall, the bike just felt solid and capable. We gave the bike a good beating on the trip, so we learned a lot about the bike. 

Of course there are some changes I need to make:
  • Thudbuster post for Liza. She also needs to find some padded shorts she likes. The stoker gets banged up a bit bouncing around back there. We're also going to try swapping out her Terry Liberator back to the sprung Brooks Conquest.
  • New rear wheel -- I don't like the idea of running a freewheel with all that weight; I want a cassette, with the drum brake (which will require spreading the rear frame to 145). 
  • I need to mess with the bars/height/etc. Running my standard set up doesn't work so well. I had some wrist, arm, shoulder pain that I never ever get. I think I'll wear padded gloves too. It's a bit of a workout to hold a tandem in line for many miles, especially over dirt and soft ground.
  • Mountain triple crank. It's running a 53/42/28. I'm going to put on 48/36/24. Then when we upgrade the rear wheel we'll put an 8-speed cassette on there. Probably 12-32.
  • Spare stuff to bring along on rides. In addition to the standard tool kit, we need some spare M5 and M6 bolts, a folding 26" tire. I want to swap the 14mm chain ring bolts with 8 mm hex's. Those are the biggies. 
  • It would be nice to find a kickstand that works with this version of the Burley. The internal cable routing makes it hard. My double Pletscher doesn't fit. I wonder if a rear wheel stand would work?

We got our essential communication worked out. Basically, there's "bump" -- which usually means stop pedaling and ride light. Unless I want it to mean "pedal through and brace yourself." Liza's not figured out how to read my mind on that one yet. "Coast" means stop pedaling. That's about it. Really. 

Then there's the shifting discussions:
"Why are you shifting to the big ring?"
"Cause I don't want to cross chain"
"It's not cross chained, you're in the middle ring"
"But it will be cross chained -- strictly speaking, if I go to the small cog from the middle ring"
"That's not cross chained." 
"It is to me. It bugs me."
"But it's too hard, you need to shift down"
{down-shift rear derailleur}
"Now you're cross chained."

It was fun to rally up hills. Especially the rollers, where if you dump the chain to the highest gear on the descent you get the next climb for free. Momentum really means something on a tandem that it doesn't on a single.

Our packing looks like a lot. We had two panniers and two buckets for the overnighter. Each pannier held a pad and a sleeping bag. Each bucket: clothes and food. Our two-person tent laid over the buckets in the back. Tool kit under Liza. And she had a little bag for sunflower seeds, camera, and binoculars.

Mainly, Liza pedaled hard and took in the scenery it worked great. We had great discussions and long happy bits of silence.

Friday, May 22, 2009


I found a new little section of trail today on the Highdrive trails. It's a steepish climb from the middle trail that cuts diagonally all the way up to the top at the 25th Ave bench. It's not really new. I've ridden down it many times. But I've never tried to climb up it. 

It's a damn hard climb on my cyclocross bike. I think it's a hard climb on any bike. It requires a good dose of aerobic intensity to maintain speed up the steep grade. It also requires a good dose of skill to hold the rear tire down while picking through the rocky, rooty, sandy, steep bits . I had to walk two sections today. If I can muscle through the technical sections that threw me today, I might (just barely though) be able to handle the actual climb without blowing up. It's a wonderful challenge.

My goal is to ride it this summer. Hopefully I'll get it in the next month. 

I gained almost 10 pounds this winter and I've not knocked it off yet, so climbing this section may provide the extra nudge of incentive to help me focus on loosing that weight. My goal is to loose this 10 pounds, plus another 5 by cyclocross season without giving up beer. It may not be possible, but I'm going to give it a try. Running, a low sugar/processed carbs and tons of veggies diet, and more intense riding (along with the normal commuting and occasional long day rides) will be key in dropping the pounds.

Having the hill climbing goal makes it all fun and gives me something to anticipate and to track on a weekly basis. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Road find: socks


Fancy and freshly washed too.

Now if I could find some new underwear.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Little girls and bikes and stuff

I knew I shanked the rim pretty badly last week. But it was dented more than I expected when I took the tire off it. There was also a smaller ding in it on the other side. I restrung the wheel to a new rim this morning. I used the Gaz method. So simple.

This is Maddie's friend Jayden. I happened to be at the Scoop as she finally nailed the solo bike ride. It's cool to see how proud kids are when they get it. She was beaming. Click the pic for bigger and you can just barely see a big smile on mom's face.

Maddie. Ready for the ride to school. She rode a lot this week for Team Pedals2People in the Bike To Work challenge. All up, she rode 5 miles to school, and 9 miles for non-school stuff: once to the store and  back and then down to the Bike to Work party. She rode as a passenger on the Xtracycle to and from BTW. Does that count? I say yes.

Maddie and I have been doing early morning hikes on the High Drive trails. Neither of us can sleep past 6 AM this time of year, so we decided to go do stuff in the morning. We go. Liza sleeps. Everyone wins.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Be at City Hall next Monday night

This is important.

If you are a cyclist and you want Spokane to be a better bike town then clear off next Monday night and do some civic duty'ing.

On Monday, the City Council is going to vote on whether to update the Comprehensive Plan with the Master Bike Plan. There's so much I can go on about here. I've been blogging on the MBP for the last 2 years, so you can read the posts here for more historical perspective. Here's the genesis post.

The basic point of getting this Master Bike Plan passed is so Spokane can get some funding for our bike stuff. Without a plan, we will not get serious state or federal money. This giant basic irrefutable fact was the reason the Bicycle Advisory Board has made updating the MBP our number one goal since the BAB was refreshed about 3 years ago. Without the plan, we can't go for the real money. Like SmartRoutes for example.

Although the plan has been developed transparently for the last two years and there has been enthusiastic support for it, passing the plan through City Council is by no means a slam dunk. The usual foot-dragging, FUD-inducing, and obfuscating tactics of the usual crowd will be loud and organized. "This is yet another unfunded mandate" will be their mantra, though the Plan does not specify or require funding sources from the city.

So, this is where you, the cyclist comes in: Just show up on Monday. It's next Monday (May 18) at 6pm at the City Hall council chambers (in the basement). Hopefully you will witness something historic as the Plan passes. You don't have to speak, but if you want to, get there a bit early to sign up.

If you come and you're not going to speak: look like a cyclist. Just have a helmet with you. Or a loud vest. Or some Lycra. Or a messenger bag.

In the meantime:
-- Read the plan.
-- Call your city council representatives and make sure they're going to vote this through.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

More hauling

This bike has been seeing more and more riding lately. I never really look forward to riding it, but when I can haul stuff on it, I appreciate it. 

I recently tightened up the leather on the saddle, which helped a lot; it's way more comfortable. The leather was sagging onto the saddle frame. I've had the Brooks spanner wrench since I bought my first Brooks about 6 years ago, but I've never used it. I went through my saddles and found 2 that benefited from a wee bit of tightening. I may even put some Proofide on them too.

I'm going to swap the bars yet again. These bars are just too flat-ish and my wrists don't like to rotate that much. Since the bike is short-haul only, I'll give moustache bars a try again. I like moustache bars for tooling around and off-roading, but anything over 20 miles or so doesn't work for me. I'll set them up tall. I'll shift the 8-speed Nexus with the Jtek bar-end shifter

I put the Tubus Fly rack on this bike a few days ago when I had to haul some crap up to the P2P garage. I love the Tubus Fly. It's the best production rear rack ever. Ever. It's light; it's strong; it's elegant. 

The 720 does well with the load as pictured. I put a different fork on it to optimize for loading on the front rack. It's the best of both worlds: you get the nice long chain stays and wheel base for rear loading and a polite front end that stabilizes with a load over the front wheel. 

Anyway. All that crud in the bags and bucket is going to Plum Tree School tomorrow morning for the Bike-to-Work "Energizer station." If you're commuting through the south hill tomorrow, stop by 20th and Sherman between 7am-9am and get some Apple Charlotte hot coffee and Liza's home made treats. She was a baking fool over the last few days: there are about 1/2 dozen different baked goodies to choose from. And if you have ANY food allergy/preference, I bet there's a treat here you can eat. Liza is so inclusive.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


My buddy Jon has been borrowing our xtracycle for about the last 2 years. We've really not missed it much. It's a great bike for hauling family-grocery loads, as in, the family and groceries. When Maddie was a toddler, we'd go shopping every week: she's sit on the front, and we'd load it up with a week's worth of groceries.  Then Fresh Abundance moved in down the street and changed our shopping habits. We never do the weekly thing anymore. About the same time we also got the tandem for Maddie. Around the same time I also discovered the joy of hauling crap on a front rack. So, the xtracycle became sort of redundant. About the same time, Jon needed a way to haul two kids or a kid and crap, so he was keen to borrow the xtracylce.

About 2 weeks ago, we took the xtracycle back so my brother could borrow it while he was in town. It's been great having it back. Not so much for hauling stuff -- though, I'll be hauling the P2P booth down to the Bike to Work breakfast tomorrow morning -- but for the kid-hauling value that the xtracycle excels at. For the short tooling around we do: to Maddie's school, to the Scoop, to Fresh Abundance, to the park, etc, the xtracycle just rules. Especially since Maddie is not hugely bullish on riding her own bike at the moment. It's funny, because she still prefers riding on the front toddler seat instead of the snap deck on the back. 

For the skinny; the dirt; the poop on my xtracycle, dig my out-dated, but mostly accurate, web page on it. 

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mica denied

Willy and I had planned to get up to Mica Peak (Washington, not Idaho -- we're pretty sure there are two Mica Peaks) via Henry road today. Weird stuff, private property, scary dog, and a freaky vibe going on up there. We did some stealthing and creeping around in an attempt circumvent the freakiness, but after a while we decided to back out. 

So we came back over Saltese Flats, up Linke, then Sands, Bruno... this route should sound familiar to a handful of cyclists. Good ride. Lots of climbing and wind. I'm tired.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


The Resurrecto is evolving. After my last mixed-terrain-lots-of-climbing-ride (hereafter referred to as a "mixter") on the hacked RB-1, I decided to put a triple on it. 

I sort of feel bad doing this, since it makes my Rawland a bit redundant. The Rawland will still be my proper mountain/rough-stuff bike and deep snow bike, but I think the majority of my long mixter rides will be on the RB-1. Compared to the Rawland, it just feels a lot more spry. Especially on a mixter where more than half of the overall mileage is paved. I guess it might be a good thing that the RB-1 can't take the new quasi-motos and the Hetres. I always must have a bike that can take the Hetres.

Anyway, I've had this bitchin' Sugino PX crankset in my stash for a while. It's obviously a clone of the TA Cyclotouriste -- very French/classic looking. I originally got the crank set to make a 44/30 double, but I'm flush in those normally-hard-to-find cranks (86 BCD, the PX, and 94/58 bcd compacts) at the moment. So I can use the PX as god intended it to be used: as a triple with 48/36/26 rings. Set up with a 11-26 cassette, I'm good to go. A 12-28 would make a tad more sense, but 11-26 is close enough.

I had to add about 3 mm of spacers to the 122 mm bottom bracket to get the cranks to work, and it's a tight fit. A hair less tolerance than I like, but I can live with it.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Bloomsday 09

Liza jumping rope to get her "weight-bearing" exercise for the day: 1400 jumps a day plus 1200-1500 mg of calcium keeps the bones strong. That's Tiger the squirrel hunter peeking in.

I added a stay to the front of my fender. There was some rattle and movement that was annoying. This will make this bike near perfect. Next up: generator lighting with an IQ Cyo. I love this bike. And I love these full Honjo fenders. I'd do a commercial.

RB-T. They don't make them like this any more. I took this out on the highdrive trails this morning. I'm always amazed at how this bike allows me to climb the really steep, rocky, and twisty switch-backs. I can't stay on the bike for most of those tight corners on my other bikes as consistently as I can on this one. For sure the knobbies help, but I've also got the weight distribution worked out on this bike better than I do on other bikes.

Arrowleaf Balsamroot are beginning to bloom on highdrive trails. That means Lupin are forthcoming. The trails are in perfect shape right now: firm and not too dusty.

The BAB booth at the Bloomsday trade show. Nicest one yet. With lots of room for maps. The key is getting a space at the end of a row. 

This is a picture of a picture that was at some booth at the Bloomsday tradeshow. I don't remember the booth. But what's the deal with those bikes? The whole drive side is on the wrong side of these bikes. I know Sheldon did that with some bikes, but I've never seen that before in the wild, but there's two bikes in this pic with the chain, rings, derailleurs, etc are on the left side. At first I though it was a developing issue, where the negative was flipped. But that stuff is on the wrong side relative to the people. Have I lost it? Is it me? Is there some obvious explanation here that I'm oblivious to? What the hey?

Saw this Sugino with an integrated chaingaurd on a Kona up at Wheelsport on Thursday. You get all three chain rings + a chain guard on a servicable crankset. The chain guard just screws into a chainring with threaded holes in it. Nice.

Maddie. Proud cyclist on Wednesday morning. Back on her pink bike.