Monday, November 30, 2009

Winter glove plan

Like all other winter-cold-wet weather clothing, I continue to fuss with different glove solutions every year. I prefer mittens. They're less prone to sweating and they keep my fingers warm in a wider range of temperatures. I'm not a big lobster claw fan, unless it's less than 25F or so. Then I'm a huge fan.

Here's my daily-driver plan this year.

These are modified REI gloves. I just finished stitching a water-resistant plasticy-nylon on the wind-facing side. These are my favorite gloves. They're light, they're versatile. They don't cost a fortune. But my finger tips tend to get cold when it's colder than 35 or so. I'm hoping this nylon will block the wind and even help a bit with the wet.

For long rides in unpredictable weather, this is my go-to solution. Outdoor Research no longer makes these shells. In fact, I can't find a light-weight Gortex or coated nylon shell mitten anywhere. There are lots of huge "climb Mount Everest" type shells, but nothing light and packable like this anymore. Weird, right?

So I stiched up a split in these mittens too.

Anyway, the wool mittens alone are good down to about the mid-thirties and dry. When it gets colder or if it turns wet, adding these shells gets me down to mid-20's or so, and works well in the lame cold-and-wet zone (30's and rain).

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Keep it up Spokane!

After riding in Sacramento, CA for a few days over the Thanksgiving break, I’ve realized how close knit the cycling community in Spokane really is. We may not all know each other, but when you see another cyclist on the road you are almost always greeted with a wave or some other acknowledgment. There might not be as many cyclists here in Spokane, but there certainly is a much stronger sense of community.

The annual 'Turkey Day Ride' in Sacramento, CA.

Good job Spokane and keep it up!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Spokane Road Racing in 2010

The future of bicycle road racing in Spokane looks good. As we finish up cyclocross season and head into the long Spokane winter, keep your mind on the spring racing season as you spin on your trainers in the garage or ride your bicycles over the snow and ice covered roads. 2010 should be a good year. 2010 here we come...

Setting up "Double Trouble" photo: Pat Sprute

The 2010 race season is shaping up well. Local cycling teams including my own have been working together and with the state organization, Washington State Bicycle Association, to organize the 2010 racing calendar. Thanks to the combined effort of the local race promoters likeBaddlands, Spokane Rocket Velo, Spokane Sports Commission and several others, the 2010 season should be the most exciting that Spokane has seen in a few years.

Here is what's on the 2010 road racing schedule for our area:

April 3-4: Frozen Flatlands Omnium, Cheney-Spokane
April 10th: Ronde Van Palouse Road Race, Spangle
June 19th: Elite State Championship Criterium, Cheney
June 20th: Elite State Championship Road Race, Cheney
April - August: Tuesday night Twilight Series Road Races (around Spokane)

There will probably be a few more surprises thrown in that aren't on the calendar yet. Add the other semi-local races like the Tour of Walla Walla Stage Race (April 16-18th),Wenatchee Omnium (May 15-16th), and the races out of Missoula MT, and the Spokane roadie will have enough races available to keep him or herself busy without ever having to drive over Snoqualmie Pass. Isn't that nice?

As we approach next year I will write more about getting ready for the road race season from the perspective of a racer, a promoter, and a USA Cycling official (all part of the hobby). Stay tuned for more.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Two Pictures

Alex, Pat, Mike, and Joe inspect the Wetmorian 1.1.

Maddie toasts a marshmallow.

Next Weds night hang is at Huckleberry's at 5:30pm. If you ride a bike you are invited.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pre-hang gathering: Jon Snyder's swearing in

Our little Wednesday night bike hangs at Benniditos are happy times. Every Wednesday night this winter at 5:30.

This Wednesday (11/25), there's actually a pre-func.

At 5 pm in the City Hall Council Chambers, the new District 2 City Councilman Jon Snyder will be sworn in. He has assurred me it will be done in 15 mintues, so we can be on time to our Benni's hang.

Having many cyclists there will make a strong statement of support and will show cyclists as an emerging political voice in Spokane.

If you can make it, please do. Then we'll ride up the hill and have a beer.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The dog days of cyclocross

Craptastic weather made for a fine cyclocross competition in Coeur d'Alene today. Snow and rain, mud and cold bring out great performances in this sport. And I'm just talking about the spectators.

Almost the entire course could be seen from the vantage point of the parking lot, including a double spiral of slick sharp turns.

Riders resorted to hi-tech measures, like foot baggies.

What they really needed was whole-body baggies.

Familiar heroes included Steph, Glen, and Tom. Justin rode his first-ever cross race! (Just don't call him Chester.) Glen and Tom were on Elephants, Justin borrowed John's Bridgestone, Steph was on her Pulse. Here's Glen on his cyclocross bike, he later rode in the mtb division. He may even have finished, but we were too cold to wait and see.

The riders worked up some body heat, but the spectators had to put up with the drizzle.

Though at least one dog was smart enough to bring an umbrella, and nice enough to share it with his humans.

And that concludes the cyclocross season for 2009. You may now mount your studded tires.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Another old bike picture. That's my dad on Christmas morning in Boulder City, NV. 1955 or so?

My dad died almost 2 weeks ago of pulmonary fibrosis.

Until a couple years ago when his lungs started giving out, we enjoyed riding bikes along the Kettle River together.

I gave him a Peugeot mountain bike with huge fat knobbies one summer. He enjoyed tooling down the road on this bike when I came to visit.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I finally got a scanner

I've been wanting to digitize this picture for a while. It's one of my favorites. That's me on the left and Ryan Maskill on the right. We're in about 4th grade there. 1982 or so? We RULE!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Box Dog Pelican

I mentioned in yesterday's post how you would be hard pressed to find an interesting, well-made production frame for $200. But I forgot about the Pelican frame. This frame has been discussed on the iBOB list from time to time, but it popped up today in a bunch of threads.

On paper, this looks like a great frame: standard-diameter (9-6-9; I wish it was 8-5-8) tubing, low trail, different wheel sizes (650b and 700c) according to the frame size, powder coated; fits fattish tires, lots of braze-ons for stuff. All for $300. Pretty sweet deal.

UPDATE: indeed, too sweet. $300 is the deposit! Total price is $1160. My bad! Still a sweet frame. And not a bad deal, just not a steal.

I'd like to ride one of these. It's a pretty perfect urban commuter, very similar to my hacked RB-T, which I ride more than any of my other bikes.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Selling Patrick's stuff

Patrick, of Scoop fame, is a buddy of mine. He's selling two interesting cycling items. I told him I'd post them here because he's a buddy, but also, because this frame should be put to good use.

It's a 1983 Trek 520 (56cm). The 1983 version of this popular model was special. Unlike the 520's that came after it, the 1983 520 used caliper brakes (not canti's) and it was a low-trail bike. In fact, the geometry is pretty close to Rene Herse randoneering bikes from the 50's (parallel 73 HT/ST; 55mm offset; "square" HT/ST length. It's also got pretty nice tubing: Reynolds 501 (not 531, thanks SteveP); 9-6-9 butted profile on the main triangle.

I had this same frame and hacked it into a canti-wearing, 650B-shod porteur. A worthy project. But ultimately, I discovered that the porteur configuration wasn't for me. I ended up trading the frame (in part) for my new cycle truck.

Anyway, Patrick is selling this frame. It's $200 and a bargain considering you'll not find anything approaching the quality of a USA-made, silver-brazed lugged frame (with interesting geometry) like this in production today... for anything close to $200. But I'm a nut for these kinds of frames and I probably wouldn't sell it because I'd hate to have someone lowball me. It would be hanging in my basement, or loaned out. So buy this frame, don't haggle, and enjoy it.

Apparently, Patrick will ship this frame. That's another thing I wouldn't do. For a couple reasons, but I'm droning on long enough here, so I'll spare you the rationalization. By the way: the headset is shot.

Item #2: Ye old Xtree.

$300. That's a $150 (+shipping) savings on this one for local buyers. For out-of-towners: No shipping on this one. Includes everything that Xtracycle includes except the long cable and cable housing for the rear derailleur.

Interested in either of these gems? Email Patrick: psully82 AT hotmail DOT com.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Why Do I Cyclocross?

Why Do I Cyclocross? from hank greer on Vimeo.

I spent today pointing my camera at everyone at the Inland Northwest Cyclocross Series races held at Riverside State Park. What a blast! Who's been hiding all this fun from me? As the video will show you, anybody can do this. And you don't have to have a top-end bike. One young man I spoke to was riding his sister's big, clunky mountain bike. He didn't care. He was riding and having fun.

There was one moment I did not get on camera. A young man riding by yelled, "Mom, I need the duct tape. It's in my car." But I was in the right place at the right time to catch a spill. (No bloggers were harmed in the making of this film.)

A big thanks to Nate for helping me shoot this and to Emde Sports for organizing and running the races. Sign me up!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Fresh air

I’m not much of one to ride bicycles indoors. I understand for some people this is a great way to keep in shape in the “off season”, but for me it’s a non-starter. I ride bikes to get out of the house. If I was going to ride indoors I could have saved myself a lot of money and just bought an exercise bike.

My winter fitness plan

Plus, riding when the weather isn’t ideal makes it hard for me to rationalize not riding when the weather is nice.

I love this sound.

And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like it when all the non-cyclists I know tell me I am out of my tree.

Friday, November 13, 2009


I found this bike up at Wheel Sport. It's a 1991 Bridgestone CB-0. It's been there for at least two months and has been on my mind for a couple weeks. Once a bike gets in like that, it's hard to shake the thought.

I like this frame: double-butted, Tange, with standard-diameter ST and TT; 73 degree HT/ST; mid-trail (about 52mm with the studded tires); takes 26" wheels. It's a lot like the famous XO-1, but tig-welded with less-fancy steel, and not as celebrated. It's also a lot like the Kogswell P/R that Jon is now enjoying. Anyway, $100 complete was a pretty good deal and it came clean and ready to roll.

Liza is not going to ride this winter when it's icy or snowy, so we had an extra set of 26" studded tires. That's how I justified buying this bike. We'll see where it ends up in the spring.

I put the tires, fenders and rack on it and swapped out the cockpit from straight bars to drops with the Softride. I may steal the dyno hub off the tandem for the winter and light it up too. We'll see.

It's fun to ride. I did the quickie Highdrive Trail loop this morning, and aside from the awful riding tires, it handled nicely. I wonder if this might make a good loaded tourer?

A Crash Course In Psychology

It was a moment of helplessness that happened in an instant. It could have been a tight turn on a wet road, an icy patch early one frosty morning, or maybe you just didn't realize your tires would lose traction on those leaves, that old cable car track showing through the asphalt or that thin layer of sand on the road. Regardless, it was like your bike was yanked out from under you and your body, no longer firmly supported and balanced on two wheels and a frame, obeyed the law of gravity and hit the pavement. Maybe even slid a little. Despite how fast it happened your mind is able to replay it back in slow motion, so much so that you think you could have avoided it. "If only I..."

You pick yourself up--quickly. Not because of the dangers of other traffic. It's the embarrassment. Here you are...a grown person...crashing on a bicycle...for a silly reason...and no one to blame...but yourself. "If only I..."

Paying little attention to the pain in your wrist or your hip or your shoulder, you pick up your bike and examine it. Your body can heal but your bike is your investment, your baby, or your work of art. Is it scratched? Is anything bent or broken? Are the wheels true enough to continue? How is the derailleur? Is the side of the saddle scraped away? Did a spoke break? Are the handlebars straight? Assessing the damage, the thought persists, "If only I..."

Your body interrupts to tell you how much more important it is than your prized LBS-purchased, name brand, pedal-driven mode of transportation. The aching, bruising and stinging reveal the many ways you have traumatized your flesh. You put on your best face and try to shake it off but your nerves persist in complaining about the unwarranted ill treatment. "If only I..."

You straddle the top tube and your hands are comforted by the familiar feel of the brake hoods. Stepping on a pedal and pushing off, you begin slowly, listening for any strange sounds coming from your bike and telling your sore muscles, strained ligaments and raw skin that everything is okay. They grudgingly acquiesce. The bike may have a scar, but you know you can rely on it. Like an alloy, body and bike coalesce and you eventually return to your rhythm. Again you reflect on what happened. "If only I..."

And for a time you'll ride past that same spot with a certain amount of caution. You'll coast. Your fingers will be ready on the brakes, maybe squeezing them just a little. You might even unclip one shoe. "If only I..."

This time you'll be ready.

As if.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


The Centennial Trail is being considered for inclusion in the Google Street View Special Collection of sites mapped with non-motorized technology.

More than 25,000 sites were nominated, the list was narrowed and the Centennial Trail is still in the running.

Go to the link below to vote for the trail.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Moment

Maybe you have the day off and you can ride to a cemetery in observance of Veterans Day. Bring a picnic or a hot drink with you. Sit. Be thankful. Take a moment to say a veteran's name.

I've always enjoyed cemeteries as peaceful places, green spaces, historical landmarks, but yesterday marked the first time I went to one with the purpose of looking for veterans' graves and spending a minute to contemplate their lives. I had the time, so I stopped at the Moran cemetery on my ride to the library. I'll stop at Woodlawn this afternoon with Maddie.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Intro to Mike

I'm another local cycling nut and my name is Mike Sirott. I started riding bikes as a kid and it's never gotten old. During the last 10 years I've developed a passion for bike racing in all shapes and sizes. You'll also find me doing various cycling things around Spokane like commuting and urban riding but thats for another post.

Chris Kelsey and I(the two SRV riders)at the Tour of Walla Walla crit, photo by AJ

John asked me to contribute to the blog, and we figured I could talk about bicycle racing. So here it goes.

It's cyclocross season! So what is cyclocross? Cyclocross is an eccentric kind of racing characterized by riding in the dirt, grass, pavement, and gravel with the odd addition of requiring the riders to dismount the bikes and run over various obstacles. The Inland 'cross scene seems to be getting bigger each year. The local races consistently draw over 100 riders and probably as many fans. It's not too late to give it a shot this year. There are two more local races left in this year's series. Learn more about the Inland Northwest Cyclocross Series here:

Me at USGP in Portland (total mudfest) photo by Sarah Wilson

Those die hard cyclocross freaks among us will be traveling to a few other very big events in the region. The final weekend of the US Grand Prix of 'Cross is hosted in Portland, December 5-6, followed by the Cyclocross National Championship in Bend, December 10-13.

Tony Aleto at USGP, photo by Mike Sirott

More action to come.

What it's all about

I didn’t want to go ride yesterday morning.

I knew it was cold, and was probably going to rain, and I was not feeling very hot and I really just wanted to skip it and go back to bed. But this ride was a reschedule from last week, when I had to cancel at the last minute for reasons I’d rather not elaborate on (but it was the day after Halloween, if you’re looking for clues). We were supposed to ride to Coeur d’Alene and back, but I knew that was not going to happen so I called to ask if we could start later and ride shorter. My riding buddy, as expected, was cool with it.

I made it to our rendezvous point downtown late, and he was cool with that, too. We were both freezing, and had no plans to ride very long. We decided to ride as far as Sullivan and back, and we could always turn back early if we felt like it (which we were both pretty sure was going to happen). We headed out, complaining about cold feet and riding a leisurely pace to minimize the wind chill.

We talked, mostly about riding next summer, and in the quiet spots I thought about what I was going to write this blog post about. I had all kinds of ideas – what to wear on a cold ride, etc. – and before we knew it we were at Sullivan, where we decided to take a warm-up break.

Liquid motivation.

The rain finally came as we headed back. I pulled my helmet cover out of my bag and didn’t worry about it too much. In a flash we were approaching Mission park, where I had decided I was going to bail since I live way north of downtown. I thought I could save myself a couple of miles of cold, wet ride by picking up my usual commute route home. We caught the light funny and I awkwardly split off mid-sentence (I was clipped in and trying not to fall over, truth be told). I picked up the pace heading home. I think my legs have my commute route memorized; they seem to know just what to do without me telling them. I thought more on what to write this post about as I trucked it north on auto-pilot (by the way, any good ideas on keeping your feet warm? I had wool socks and neoprene booties and still had Popsicle toes). I was almost home in a flash, and honestly I was sad about it. And then it hit me.

It isn’t about the cold, or the bike, or the rain. It’s about the time I got to spend with my friend, sharing stories and planning all the rides we are going to do when the cold and the rain have passed, and rehashing adventures gone by. I spend most of my time riding alone, to and from work. But my best rides have always been the ones I shared with someone else, even when they were the worst rides ever.

So, if you wanna know the best way to handle a cold, wet ride – it’s easy. Get yourself a buddy and get out there, even (and maybe especially) when you don’t want to.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

More cycle trucking

I've got the SH-80 pretty squared away. I picked up a fat bmx tire last week for $20 and got a double kickstand from REI. The double kickstand makes all the difference in the world. It's pretty frustrating trying to load up heavy stuff on a single kickstand. The double makes it super easy.

The front fender is running super tight. It was buzzing at me today, so I replaced the cheesy plastic clip with a thinner metal one at the fork crown. That gained me a few precious millimeters. We'll see how it goes. I have a feeling that the front wheel may end up with a campaign sign fender or a smaller tire. Smart money is on the coroplast.

Alex is building me another rack for this. He's going to take this one and give me one that is shorter and wider. It will also have a built-in U-lock holder and some cleats for tying down loads. Sweet!

I'm still amazed by how well this one rides with a load. The load in the picture is probably around 30 pounds. It's pretty effortless handling compared to 30 pounds in a pannier or even on my other front-loading bikes.

I've had a number of people ask me how it rides. I'll bring it to the next bike chat hang this Weds night (Benidittos, 5:30pm) for people to try out.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

2 Wheel has finally sold

Steve has been trying to sell 2 Wheel Transit for as long as I've been back in Spokane (coming on 6 years).

This just made the rounds yesterday...

Downtown bike shop purchased by local businessman and pediatrician

Spokane, Washington - November 6, 2009 – Focus on Trek brands, a bike fitting physician and excellent customer service are all keys for success of Two Wheel Transit.
Geoff Forshag, CPA and Bruce Abbotts, M.D., have purchased the assets of long-time Trek Bicycle dealer Two Wheel Transit, Inc., which is located in downtown Spokane at 1405 W 1st Avenue. The store will continue under the name Two Wheel Transit and focus on Trek and Gary Fisher bicycles, and Bontrager clothing, parts and accessories. Fisher and Bontrager brands are both a part of Trek. The business also provides full service bicycle repairs and maintenance and welcomes all bikes regardless of brand or type....

Good luck guys...

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Congrats to my buddy and office mate, Jon Snyder. I just talked to him and Mike Allen has conceded the election. Jon is now my councilman. Our relationship will now be one of angry tax payer ranting to his elected official.

We've got 3 solids (Jon, Richard, Amber) on the council now and a semi-solid (Bob). Plus a solid mayor. Now is the time to push the bike stuff.

Here's an interesting take on how bike politics has influenced the mayor's race in Seattle.

I look forward to a time when local politicians and candidates will be falling all over themselves to get a booth at SpokeFest or otherwise trying to court the bike/ped/active transportation voters. As the article I link to above points out, it's not just about courting cyclists, but courting the types that are apt to bike or just appreciate how cycling can make a city more appealing.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Help Wanted

I want to open up this blog to more voices. I think it would be cool to have a racer. A mountain biker. More commuters. Female types. A bike policy wonky type. Some hard-core bike technical nerdomism. A builder (nudge nudge wink wink). A LBS owner would be really cool. A BMXer.

It's not that I'm running out of things to say, but I'm feeling kind of lazy and I know that when I ride, I think of lots of things to say. I'm wondering if there are other people out there that have stuff to say but don't want the nagging overhead of a whole blog to look after.

Plus, the name of this blog is Cycling Spokane, which sort of begs for some communal crowd sourcing.

Interested in throwing in? Here's the commitment:
-- You'll write one post a month. But you can write as many as you want. If you don't feel comfortable writing, then post a video or a photo essay.
-- You'll stick around for at least 6 months.
-- You'll not do any blatant advertising.
-- You'll live in the Spokane "region."
-- Your posts will be bike related.

Send me an email (johnspeare at gmail dot com) if you want to try a 6-month slot.