Monday, June 29, 2009


We're borrowing Loren's RANS Screamer. Maddie loves it. She can't reach the pedals and the seat is much more comfortable than the xtracycle -- she can sit cross-legged and sing while I do all the work.

Liza has yet to ride it. Maybe this weekend.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Mount Spokane S240 wrap up

Patrick, Willy, and I left downtown at about 10:45 am on Friday. We made a quick grocery stop and we were on the Centennial Trail, heading east, by 11 AM. We took the Wellesely/Lehman hill to Forker to Mount Spokane Road route. Good times. With lunch along the way, we landed at the Vista House at about 3:30.

The climb to the summit of Mount Spokane is like a big hill with two hard climbs in it. The summit is 5700 feet. Roughly, the 3000-4000 ft piece is a hard section and about the 4200-4900 piece or so is also hard.

After laying around and eating at the Vista House, we rode about 300 ft back down the mountain and found a cool spot to sleep for the night. Patrick and Willy slept in the foundation of an old building, while I found some trees nearby to string the hammock between.

I lost my water filter last year and finally bought one for this trip. I got an MSR gravity flow filter. It rules. Why pump again? It's light, it's easy and you can do 4 liters in about 10 minutes.

Patrick and I rolled down into Spokane and were enjoying breakfast by 9 am this morning. Willy doesn't work until Monday, so he took off down a trail that drops down the east side of Mount Spokane and puts you in Spirit Lake. From there, he's off to Priest Lake. He's looking at about 100 miles of trail, dirt road, and back road riding today. Lucky.

He's got the GPS fired up. I can't wait to see the route he ends up taking. I'll be sire to report back here.

This is my 400th post. Mother of pearl.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hetres meet RB-1

I guess that was just a matter of time. Putting the tires on this bike just delays what seems inevitable. I'm hoping a production version of the Grand Bois Urban bike comes to the states soon.

The 57.5 cm 1993 RB-1 shipped with a published trail measurement of 52.7 mm. After I hacked the bike to take 650Bs and then added these monster tires (diameter = 668), it's back to 52 mm of trail.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Feeling the love for the High Drive trails

I just have to say for the 100th or so time how much I appreciate living so close to the High Drive trails. There's just loads of swoopy, rocky, rooty, sandy, single-track less than a mile from my front door.

I've got a good loop now to ride. I carved it out on Saturday and rode it again today. I like having a loop that I can ride regularly. Once you do a loop for a week or two solid, then you get a good baseline. From there, you can go back to that loop anytime and get a good idea of where your at -- either fitness-wise, or bike-handling wise. This loop has it all: lots of good (and challenging) descending and gobs of hard climbing.

It takes me about 45 minutes to ride the loop. Hopefully I can do it in under a half hour by the time cyclocross season starts. My "loose 10 pounds while still drinking beer" diet isn't exactly producing results. I think I'll have to switch to the standard "no beer until you loose the weight" torture diet, or the "just don't eat but drink as much beer as you want" cleansing diet.

My new loop is really fun to ride on a cyclocross-type bike. I don't think it would be nearly as much fun on a mountain bike. Well, actually, the descents might be more fun. There's one twisty swoopy fast double-track section this would be really fun on a fat-tired-super-high-trail-with-a-smidgin-of-suspension bike. The climbing though would not be fun. I really hate climbing on mountain bikes.

For anyone keeping score. I did finally make it up my goal hill. It took me about 8 tries. I nearly vomited at the top, but I made it.

Anyway. I found this weird shed thing off the trail. It's about 100 yards off the main trail and I've ridden right by it a number of times. I attempted to get the cliche shot of the old shed in the wilderness overlooking the manicured cul de sac sprawl below, but my phone camera doesn't do cheap irony well.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Bearings rule

Check out this wind mill. It was out in the West Plains area. The guy had another one that was really ornate, but it was too far away to capture with my camera phone. The ornate one had 5 wheels and a tail which rotated the whole thing into the wind. Both of these were spinning fast and silently. That's why bearings rule.

I set out to take a short road ride and explore some new roads in the West Plains area yesterday. When I got the 747, I vowed to keep it off the trails. Dirt roads are ok. But no trail riding. I've done pretty good with that, but yesterday I failed big time.

I found Old Trails Road and followed it until it butted up against Riverside State Park, which put me on the never ending Trail 25. I ended up doing about 2 miles of really fun trail riding on the 747 before I got on the paved Centennial Trail. I walked down a steep rocky descent, which was difficult, because I think I could've picked my way down it.

I'm going to go back to Trail 25 tomorrow morning with the RB-T. My father's day trail ride. The portion of Trail 25 I was on was a perfect dirt ride: a lot of old double track mixed with swoopy single track. Not technical at all, but fun to ride fast a roadish bike.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

New Bike/Ped Coordinator has started

Spokane now has a Bike/Pedestrian Coordinator. This is a position in the City that is responsible for... well, coordinating bike/ped interests and communication within and between city departments. It's hard appreciate exactly why this position is so critical if you've not spent time dealing with bike-related policy and implementation in the city. I have spent way more time than I ever wanted to in this arena and I can tell you, there are a lot of moving parts. When it comes to transportation-related anything, all systems, processes, thinking, and organization are optimized to move and park automobiles. Any other transportation alternative requires active advocacy and pushing during every single step of the process. I am not exaggerating or overstating this in the slightest.

Anyway, the BAB meeting was tonight and we got to meet Grant. He's the new bike/ped coordinator and he's really got his job cut out for him. He has a background in planning and design, mostly in Golf Course design. He did that for 20 years, where he owned a company in Kansas. At some point, he got interested in urban planning, went back to school and got a master's degree in Planning. His undergrad degree was in Landscape Design. One passion he says is designing outdoor spaces. He's most recent job was as a city planner in Redmond, Oregon.

Most of the BAB meeting tonight was the BAB talking at Grant: giving him background of the members and a brief history of the last 3 years or so. In part, our goal was to figure out how to transition a lot of the work we've been doing to Grant in a way that maintains the momentum as he comes up to speed.

His manager, Katherine Miller, was there to introduce Grant and provide the basic goals and work items that Grant will be working toward for the bike part of his job over the next couple years:

1. Review and revise plan network

2. Create project list

3. Establish wayfinding protocols -- how do we sign routes?

4. Develop fiscal note: figure out per-item/facility/maintenance costs

5. Establish on-street design protocols

6. Review and amend existing design manuals

7. Create a funding strategy

8. Establish performance indicators

9. Assess opportunities: basically, be on the look out for potential projects that pop up, but may not be on the master bike plan

10. Forge internal partnerships

As MMW once said, "we are rolling..."

Friday, June 12, 2009

My first good wheel and a tandem ride

I tried to count up how many bike wheels I've built and I came up with at least 16, but more likely about 20 wheels. That's nothing. Any wheel pro builder will tell you that it takes at least a 100 wheel builds before you really start to get it. Most of my wheels are not very good. I'm just not patient enough to do them right. That's why I like Velocity rims. They're totally round and easy to build up compared to other rims I've built up.

Anyway, this wheel is the first good wheel I've built. The first take was normal: I built it up, rushed through tensioning and truing and then rode it. By the time I got downtown it had a big lateral wobble. I used 14/16 double-butted spokes which really want to unwind if you don't properly tension, stress-relieve, repeat.

I trued it up enough to get home and then I spent two hours tensioning, truing, stress-relieving. I did this until stress-relieving did not require re-truing. So, I'm kind of counting this as my first real wheel build up. I'm going to force myself to go through this process from now on.

I rode my trusty RB-T out to the Wandermere area this morning and took a tandem ride with my buddy Loren. He just bough a used Rans Screamer. I like these bikes. It's a recumbent tandem.

Ever since I saw Alex's Screamer and heard the stories of his epic tours with Larry, I've wanted to ride one. Larry now owns the Screamer. For context, Larry is the guy that owns Oly Bike Shop (this is the kind of bike shop Spokane is ready for: it's all about the commuter), produced the Washington State Bike Law pamplet, went on the St. Helen's tour and Vancouver Island tour with Alex and me, and all around nice guy.

Anyway, Loren took me up a pretty steep climb right off the bat. That was tough. The recumbent really works your quads. I rely on standing for hard climbs, so staying seated and pounding out a climb really worked me aerobically. It was hard, but satisfying and fun in that lung-searing, lactic-acid-building way.

I was the captain. I kind of was looking forward to being the stoker so I could sit back and take some pics, but I'm glad I captained. I really got a feel for the handling. I found the steering to be super touchy. I sort of got used to it after an hour of riding or so but there's no relaxing -- you are always steering and slightly correcting in a much more active way than you do on an upright bike. Loren said I need to relax more and not squirm around so mich. Maybe so. No doubt, I need more time on the bike.

Shifting was really fussy. I hate grip shifts. I would put friction thumbshifters on this bike if I owned it. Descents were really nice, it's like rolling down a hill in a lazy boy. Loren worked the drum brake, so I just had to manage the steering. I like this bike. I need to spend more time on it to feel comfortable with it, but if Liza or (someday) Maddie was down with it, I think we could dig it.

I really want to try riding this bike with Liza. Loren is going to loan it to us so we can give it a try. More on that to follow.

Monday, June 8, 2009

We've got a plan

That picture shows a unanimous vote to update the comp plan with the Master Bike Plan.

Wow. That was anti-climatic.

About 2 1/2 years ago years ago, the Bicycle Advisory Board recommended starting work on the MBP and pushed the city council to support the work. About 5 months later, we started the plan. Eventually, Joel Soden (graduate student at EWU) did the actual drafting of the plan. Ken Pelton, Joel's boss, oversaw the work and was key in navigating it through the various city departments and external bureaucracies. Lots of people and citizens -- as well as the council and various city departments -- threw in on the plan. But from where I'm sitting, the plan wouldn't have happened without the BAB pushing, Joel developing, and Ken driving.

On Monday, the city's Bike/Ped coordinator will start. Remember, way back in August of last year? The city council voted to fund a Bike/Ped coordinator. There's another riveting picture of the vote in that post too. Well, that's finally come together too.

So here we are. The two biggest goals that the BAB set out for itself when Bob Lutz took over the board 3 years ago have been met. What now? Implementation is an on-going work item, and having a Bike/Ped coordinator will offload a lot of the extra curricular (and nearly always during the work day) meetings that BAB members have had to squeeze in over the last few years.

It will be interesting to see how the BAB evolves as we're freed to do other work. Btw, we still need two more people. We really need north side representation. Go here if you are intersted.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Circus bike

My buddy, Loren (owner of Silver Bike Tours) dropped off a triple Bike Friday tandem for us the other day. Wow. Fun and weird.

We did a quick shake-down ride around the block last night. I like it. Liza thinks it's ok. Maddie loves it. We rolled to school today on it. Pics are hard to take one-handed on this bike. There's a tail wagging deal with this much steel suspension.

In a couple weeks, we're going to take this bike and roll down the trail of the CdA's and hang out in Harrison for a day.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

2nd time is a charm

A couple weeks ago, the city council deferred the vote for the Master Bike Plan. They shouldn't have. They should've just voted it in, but they didn't. So next Monday, June 8th, is the vote. Just show up and be a bike person. 6pm. City Hall.