Monday, July 27, 2009

Maddie anticipates a shift

Maddie and I find ourselves riding up to Super 1 about every other Sunday for some reason or another. Now that she has a bike with a shifter (6 speed freewheel on a mid-90's girlie Giant 20"-wheeled "mountain" bike...whew!), she's slowly warming up to the idea of shifting.

It's really all I can do to shut the hell up. I want to tell her to shift all the time, but I don't. Well, hardly ever. I suggested a shift the other morning as she grinded up a small hill. I think she had forgotten that she had gears. She downshifted and took off.

When you approach Super 1 from the Pear Tree side, there's a steep little hill that runs about 40 yards or so. On Sunday mornings there is very little traffic, so a couple weeks ago, Maddie figured out that with a good run-up to the hill, she could get to the top without walking it. She hit it hard and then grinded out the last 10 yards or so. It was a big achievement. She was psyched.

This week, just as she finished the big run up -- right in front of the entrance of the Pear Tree, she downshifted. It was so smooth and so natural, I assumed that her bike ghost-shifted. But it didn't. She anticipated it, and shifted as smooth as any veteran rider: no clanking or overloaded stress, just a smooth downshift, whereupon she sailed up the hill as gracefully as can be.

When she told me that she did in fact shift, I was, and still am, amazed at the grace. Maybe it was all luck and it just as easily could've turned into a mis-shift and wreck (as she did a couple weeks ago on flat ground), but I'm going to believe, and I'm telling her, that it was a flawless shift made by a skilled rider.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Badger, again

Patrick and I took a leisurely ride to Badger Lake yesterday. I had this overnighter on my calendar for a couple months, so I was sort of conflicted when Jeff announced a one-off FBC ride for tomorrow. According to Liza (who represented the Speare-Mattana family), Jeff broke all records with last night's ride, so I don't feel so bad for missing it, but it would've been nice to see friends.

In any case, we had a nice time at the lake. Badger is just perfect right now. Swimming temperature-wise: it's super refreshing at the moment. I may make a run out there next Friday just to take a swim for a couple hours, then ride back. If I go, I'm bringing an air mattress and some goggles.

I've done this ride probably 6 or 7 times, but I've never done it on a bike with fat nobbies. The route is mostly rail trail and then the best part is on an abandoned road. These tires (quasi-motos) made it a very comfy and easy ride. The Rawland, set up with fattish nobbies is well-suited for this kind of overnighter.

As promised, the work has begun on the Fishlake Trail. What has been wide single track in the past, is not wide double track and in the initial stages of prep. This compare this picture with this one:

The were taken at the same spot.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Round up

Last Friday, Willy, Patrick, Joe, and I rode the first half of the Midnight Century. It was too hot for that kind of tomfoolery. Joe was smart; he bailed at Liberty Lake and went back to Spokane on the trail. Willy, Patrick, and I pressed on. It was about 98 F. I drank lots of water. Probably about 2 gallons. But I only peed once at the end of the day. Not good. Coming up Sands Road, I was getting a bit rummy and sort of spacey. A couple miles later we came to the top of a hill where someone was watering their lawn. There was also a fruit tree in the yard. We broke our "don't stop longer than 5 minutes rule" and soaked in the sprinklers and hung out under the tree. That made all the difference.
The t-shirts are hanging in Object Space, they are part of a show that Bruce Hormann has put together a show, "Punk Art Retrospective 197?-2009". I lease a space in the Object Space building from Bruce for my day job so I've been watching this show come together. I wasn't into punk when I grew up here in the 80's, but this collection is still really fascinating to me. Spokane had (and still has) a rich sort of underground culture. I don't know how else to classify it, "underground," "punk," "non-mainstream?" I don't know, but looking at the zines and band fliers that span the last 20+ years I am sort of regretful that I didn't explore more of the edges of the music scene in Spokane as I grew up. This show captures a local piece of historical perspective that I think is important. The care that Bruce takes in cataloging the hundreds of pieces that have been dug out of attics and basements and back rooms by his friends is impressive. You should go and you should donate a few bucks to the donation jar so Bruce can continue to do shows that no one else in town would or could do. Opening reception is tomorrow night and the show runs through the end of the month. Hours are 4pm till late-ish. It's at 1818 1/2 E Sprague.

This is Jens. He's German. He's 23 and he's travelled more miles on his bike since he was 16 than I'll probably ever travel. He rolled through town on July 18th, which was fortunate for him since it was my birthday and we were having a backyard movie and cake. It was also fortunate since July 18th was also his birthday.
A couple interesting Jens facts:
  • His first tour was across Europe when he was 16
  • When he was 19 he rode from Turkey to Vietnam, via Iran, Pakistan, over the Himalayas, through China, and Laos. I needled him for a couple hours on this trip. Amazing stories. His way into China and how he had to work the visa system is impressive and took some serious guts.
  • Zoom in on his bike pic there and you'll see a little box taped to his head tube. It's a recharging unit his buddy made for him. It contains a couple cell phone batteries. During the day he charges the batteries with his dynohub, then at night he has a bit of juice for charging his phone or other small devices.
  • His bike is hearty. Tried and true stuff there.
Here's a porteur from Specialized. It's called the Globe Live. Whoa Nelly. I don't want to say I told you so, but I called this one.

On paper they've done a really good job with their first attempt. We can't give them too much credit, since the design has been well-known for over 50 years, but the fact that they got the essential details right is heads and tails above what other big bike companies have done when they attempt a practical bike (ahem-Simple City-ahem). The Medium and Large sizes have low trail to handle the front load. It ships with fattish tires (35mm) and full aluminum fenders (that's a big deal); it's got nice components, not junk - a chain guard. The fancier versions have 8 speed internal hubs, with the fanciest running Alfine and disks.
In my opinion, there are two screw ups. Clearly, it should be a steel bike, but that's really just my preference and not a screw up. Though, some would argue that a properly raked and tapered steel fork would make for a much smoother ride than the fork that ships with it and I'd agree with them.
But here's the nits:
1. The Small size uses 700c wheels. It's got to be expensive to spec different sized wheels when your doing huge runs on these bikes, but you can't get the front end right on this bike when you shrink it and put 700c wheels on it. The small size looses the low trail and therefore looses the handling characteristics of such bikes when you load them up. If you buy it. Don't buy the small.
2. The rack will wobble if you put too much weight in it. It's not triangulated properly. As Jan Heine noted on an iBOB thread discussing this rack:
some people still don't understand triangulation of racks - this one is a  perfect parallelogram with slanted sides. Put a heavy load on it, and  it'll try to flatten out, going down and toward the back. And since  it's not supported at the top, it'll tend to swing sideways, too. 
All the same, I think this is a great effort by a big bike company. At $600 the single speed version is tempting. The multi-geared versions use an eccentric bottom bracket for tensioning. And the super version uses a belt drive! Pretty sensible, that.

I had more to say. But for the love of Pete. I gotta stop. If you read this far. Thanks.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Stay tuned

Life and a broken laptop have kept me from blogging much lately. One night this week I'll drop the megabomb super plus ultra post. Stay tuned for...
  • Ride report: the 96 degree death pre-ride of the midnight century course and the oasis on top of the hill
  • P2P free bike tune up at Perry St fair where the mobile shops rolled into action.
  • Jen's the 23 year-old German bike world tourist, in which John once again regrets his hedonistic 20's
  • Punk retrospective at Object Space and why it's important to check it out. Even if you don't care about punk/underground music.
  • This week's upcoming FBC ride: help Jeff get some sleep. Promise him you'll be there!
  • One of the big three has produced a bonified low-trail porter. Really.
  • Why you and every cyclist you know should mobilize for Jon Snyder's city council campaign

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Midnight Century is quickly approaching

I've been slothing most of the summer. Aside from my short daily commute and a weekend ride or two, I've not really been putting in many miles. I'm busy with a lot of stuff. I went on vacation last week and came back a couple days ago. Even though I wrote about the Midnight Century in OTM this month, it's just sort of struck me that the it is only two weeks away. '

(Btw: the link there to the OTM column has the ride details)

Now that it's hit me, I'm kind of obsessing about it. I stayed awake staring into the darkness last night thinking about my handlebar height and if I should rotate the bars back just a touch.

I'm thinking about the water issue. There will be no water drop this year. But I didn't need as much water as I thought I would've last year. It's cool in the early morning hours. I think I'll run with a full Camelpack + two waterbottles. My CamelPack is pretty small.

I'm thinking about lighting: should I just put my new Cyo hub-generator-driven-super LED on the bike and be done with it? Or stick with the same light I used last year. I'm leaning towards staying with the MiNewt.

I'm thinking about food. Jake and I chatted briefly on this and I'm thinking 5 small rice and bean burritos and some kind of candy. Either Boston baked beans (thanks for that idea RJ, those are good riding candies) or maybe Gummy Bears. Oh yeah, and I'll work on sunflower seeds for much of the ride.

I'm thinking about gearing. I'm taking my Resurrecto with the Hetres. That bike has a 12-26 cassette on it and a 48-36-26 triple. Should I swap the cassette out for one with 30 teeth? I might. I can use the cassette from my cyclocross bike.

I'm thinking about my weight. I've gained a few pounds this summer. I'm taking it easy on the beer and food front for the next couple weeks to see if I can drop 5 or so pounds.

I'm thinking about my legs. I just haven't done the long rides that I was doing last summer. I know I'm good for the mileage, but I may be a bit slower this year. Which is fine, but it would feel a bit like a step back for me to really loose a lot of time.

I'm going to ride about 1/2 the route tomorrow and will end up with around 70 miles. I plan on pushing it a bit to see how I feel. But it's supposed to be 92 degrees tomorrow, so that could slow me down quite a bit.

I've got a S24O planned for the following week. I'll be sure to make it far away... I've not done the Hunters run for a couple years, that would be a great S24O destination.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Hatch Road

Someone emailed me today and asked me the status of Hatch Road.

Most cyclists that ride that hill know what an awful experience the climb is. And most know that there is some plan somewhere some time to do something about the road.

Some pre-design work to figure Bike/Ped and 57th/Hatch intersection design and cost was recently finished. There are a few options.

Check out the study here. It's a whopper at 24 MB, but it's interesting reading and lays out the different options and costs.

I like the Option 2 Roundabout Intersection with with Bike/Ped/Safety Option 2. That's $11.7 million.

Next step, as always, is to find the money. There's no money right now set aside for this project.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Comparing the Motos

Quasi on the left. Neo on the right.

New LBSs

A couple new bike shops in the hopper.

#1. New LBS going into the South Perry area. Next to Lorian Health Food. That's a tiny space. But a great location. No info on who owns it or what brands (if any) they'll carry. I plan on snooping around on my way home today.

#2. Sprague and Pines. This one isn't new to most people. But I can't really have a list with only one item. I've heard that the owner defected from WS East and is going solo. And he scored a Trek account.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009