Saturday, January 30, 2010

Hi, I'm Glen, but you can call me Mr. Lucky, thanks.

Picture this shiny new bike, only picture it with a bike shipping box in front of it, and with a nice red glow coming from the gas heater down there. 'Cause thats how it was most of Saturday... Until I left for 14 minutes to get something from my toolbox down at work. Sometime in the intervening 14 minutes something bad happened. Really bad. Did I mention that was a new bike...Somebody else's new bike? Here's how I think it played out; I closed the door to the inner shop as I was leaving(you keep it warm in there) slight stirring of air causes box to tip over, just barely landing on the back of the heater. Box ignites, burning evenly from top to bottom. When flames get to the end of the box, they melt the hydraulic brake lines, spraying the tires, which apparently ignite and burn reaallly hot, hot enough to melt alloy rims and spoke nipples, and then...nothing. Fire's out. No flames, no residual heat. Just really thick smoke. Or maybe the tires ignited, and the brake fuid extinguished the fire when it sprayed out. (Ethicalpyro, please weigh in)If you look at the background, there was no shortage of tinder...

Maybe there were mysterious forces at work?
Pat, you might want to stick with the electric heat . I'm going to save the propane for extreme conditions, I think.
Oh, if anybody sees me in the return line at REI sunday, mum's the word, o.k.?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Numbers game

Good times.
9 bike nerds, 60 degrees warm, 20 sausages, 24 bottles of beer, 1 lb. of sauerkraut...and Stephs giant cookies.Well done, everybody, well done. "Everybody look thoughtful and engaged"

Alternate route home

If you had this as an alternate commute route, wouldn't you take it more than a couple times a month?

I need to take the long way home more often.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Because you asked

When I tell people I used to weigh 300 pounds they ask for a picture. Well. Here it is. I'm the guy on the right. That was 8.5 years ago. I think was about 300. I stopped weighing at 289.

When I turned 30 I changed my ways.

More on that here. And I've lost another 20 or so since I wrote that article.

Picture by Gnate

This is me a couple weeks ago. Not a rail, but not such a fat bastard either.

Monday, January 25, 2010

An Elephant Ride

So here's the thing, I am small. Not like gnome small, mind you, but small. I have a nearly impossible time finding bikes that fit. I have over the years just ridden whatever was available in a small, or smallish size. I've made do. But now I've actually ridden a road bike that fits! Glen, the craftsman at Elephant Bicycles, has lent me this pint-sized bike. A friend suggested the endearing name "Dumbo" for this "baby Elephant." Dumbo or elephant, it rides like a gazelle! And I feel like a giant. Note my massiveness.

Dumbo gets some help in its compact geometry by using a smaller wheel size than a 700c. As you can see, the top tube slopes steeply. I have another road bike (also pink!) with 700c wheels, and a straight top tube. I raced this other bike in a former life, but it has always been too big, even with the seat lowered as far as possible. Glen cleverly designed Dumbo to fit both wheels and rider, without too much toe overlap.

The bike handled well on the newly paved, flat Fish Lake Trail, but also climbed great up Sherman Rd off Cheney-Spokane Rd, and descended like a bullet down Cedar. I would prefer drop bars over straight bars, but not a big deal. I got to feel what you average-sized riders must feel everyday. And for that I am blessed. Glen is a saint.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

3 Sunday Rides

Sunday morning crew. We went up Greenwood, across Rimrock, and over to West Central. We threw in a few trail sections for fun. For the notekeepers: that chunk of red/black dude on the far left is Joe, then Steph and Nate, Pat the Rack Man, and Willy in the back. If it's not obvious, that's my big mug up front. And Patrick, of Scoop fame is charging ahead out of the picture.

Note the glove-bike accessorizing

I got home and Maddie and I took a ride up to Rite Aid to buy a gift for her friend. Maddie still has it. She's not ridden for a few months, but she dug it. Which is nice, because she ended the summer not really interested in riding. I must practice restraint.

So, on that note, I'm going to make a few minor changes to her bike: add fenders, put less-knobbie tires on it, put a normal-sized chain ring on it (look at that monster, wtf?). Maybe get a Pat-Rack for the back. I may see if I can add a bmx-style side pull brake on the rear and a thumbshifter setup for a drag brake. Her little hands get tired braking on the long descent to downtown. The seat needs a-raising too.

Liza and the fly catcher

Maddie went to a friend's house so Liza and I rode down to Value Village for some pants. Liza scored some nice J Crews (oh la la), but the sweet-ass wool pants I found were just too big. Dang. I did get a belt finally. No more nylon webbing for me! Then we went to Clinkerdaggers and split an order of onion rings. Not a good decision for the ride home. Ugh.

Trek 400

During the daily perusal of Craigslist, I found this bike. Nothing too special, and I replaced...damn, now that I think about it, Every Single Part.

It even fits 700x38 tires with the centerpull brakes.

I only had to visit the Pedals 2 People shop 3 times to complete the build. Thanks to Ryan and John Henry for lots of assistance! One part I needed but didn't find at P2P is this fancy housing stop by Surly.


Found these pics on my phone from this week's adventures.

This was a load of crud I took to Glen's house.

I've heard about this stairway connection (on Perry, connecting 18th to 19th, or 20th?) before. It was great to find it. But I didn't haul my hauler down the stairs. Going around took me about 6 blocks out of my way, but it was all down hill.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pump trick

I've seen pumps carried on the seatstay before. It's a great spot for a pump if you can find a way to keep it in there. Unlike the top-tube location, with the pump at the seat stay, you can shoulder your bike without fussing. And you don't need extra space between the seat tube and rear wheel that is required for the behind-the-seat-tube-mounting.

When I've tried to cram a pump along the seatstay, it just doesn't fit right. Glen's solution is nifty. In addition to a little strap up top, the devil's in the detail:


We were on the Palouse yesterday and it was super windy. But it was great, because Liza and I took our first ride of the year on the tandem. All up, we ended up riding around 20 miles. We both had stiff necks and shoulders last night, so we need to spend some time getting the fit dialed in.

Justin got a flat. Which provided a nice opportunity to sit around and chat.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

the latest hack

I don't know how I feel about this, but John talked me into this gnarly repair. It kind of made sense because he's only using it for a short time as a "proof of concept" (In terms of geometry, clearances, etc.) There's generally a right way to make this repair, and several wrong ways. This is one of the later. Leave the lugs, braze in a tube on top of them, rustoleum,done.

This one needed an extra step, extending the bottom bracket lug to reach the slightly short, old , rusty Columbus SLX downtube. Because John's not about waiting to order a new tube. Plus the donor Ciocc already had shifter bosses and bottle bosses.This a long forgotten lug style, rarely seen in the americas.

A little gap in the brazing let me get the tube end out easily.

Leaving a nice clean bb to add on to.

Tommorow I'll clean it up a little and I bet he's riding it by the weekend.

Support Vulnerable Roadway Users Bill

The Cascade Bicycle Club has a strong advocacy program but they can't do it alone. They need your help in getting the Vulnerable User Bill, Senate Bill 5838 (PDF) passed.

What will this law do? According to the bill report (PDF)

A person may also be found guilty of negligent driving in the first degree if the person (1) operates a motor vehicle in a manner that is both negligent and endangers or is likely to endanger any person or property; and (2) the person's actions are the proximate cause of great bodily harm or death of a bicyclist or pedestrian.

One would think that the driver who caused the death of Kevin Black in Seattle last year could have been charged with negligent driving, but that was not the case. She received a traffic citation. This bill can change that.

Go to this page, enter your zip code and they'll provide a prefilled letter for you to send to your state senator. Personalize the letter a bit and let your state senator know you support this bill.

Wheel building at P2P

I have been doing a ton of Pedals2People stuff on the side lately. Mainly, we opened our shop. There's a million moving parts there that we had to align but now we're open. Go there and check it out.

In addition, a few of us spent a lot of time on a grant for P2P. What a huge pile of work. The goal, now that we have the shop open, is to keep it open. We now have expenses (a bit of staffing and some rent) that we never had before. So, we're running down grant money; we're hoping to sell our used stuff by keeping the shop open consistent hours; we've got work stands, tools and knowledgeable people that you can rent for $5/hour.

Another thing we're doing is classes. Liza and John Gaz have been rocking the Ladies Classes. The next 3 series are nearly sold out. There's one opening.

Wheel building is one of those weird things that tends to mystify some cyclists. It's sort of held up as a skill of the "serious" cyclist. That's how I thought of it for years. So, we figured we should figure out how to offer a wheel building course.

I gave it a lot of thought and came up with a series of three 2-hour classes ($60 for the series + wheel components) where students will build a wheelset and learn to repair out-of-true wheels. On the surface, the goal of this class appears to be wheel building -- since you end up with a new set of wheels.

But really, the point of the class is to give you practice dealing with wheels and understanding the basic workings of a spoked wheel by going through the process of lacing, tensioning, dishing, and truing a wheel. What this will give you is a basic competence to fix most wheel issues you may encounter on tour or a long ride. It will also give you the confidence to replace a broken spoke and true up screwy wheels that you encounter along your cycling life. It won't make you a pro wheel builder. That takes building at least a hundred wheels. That's an opinion.

I've built about 20 wheels. I'm no pro, and my buddy Willy can identify the wheels I've built by how I've mis-laced the spokes around the stem. It's not a structurally significant mis-lacing, but it makes filling the tires a bit more of a chore. I've since mended my ways and I lace them correctly.

Anyway, my hope was to talk Glen (of Elephant fame) into leading this class. He's built hundreds of wheels. He's a pro. But he's not comfortable teaching such a class. So, I'll be the official "instructor" and Glen is the "facilitator" to make sure I don't teach anything silly. That works for me.

We'll be walking students through the Sheldon Brown method. On the first night, you'll build a front wheel, step-by-step, with the rest of the class. On the second night, you'll build up your own wheel on your own, while Glen and I roam. On the last night, we'll fix up bent screwy wheels.

For the wheels you'll be building: think utility, commuting, touring, mountain biking. We're not doing a low-spoke-count (less than 28 spokes) weirdo materials ultra-light race wheel.

A great example of a solid first wheel: Velocity Synergy rim laced to a Deore-level hub with 14 gauge straight (non-butted) spokes. Velocity is not the cheapest rim, but it's the roundest for the money. Deore or Deore LX are solid hubs that just work, don't cost a fortune, and are serviceable. And even though butted spokes are usually stronger, they like to wind up when you tension them, so straight gauge 14s are good value strong choices for your first build that remove the wind up potential.

We've got a deal (10% off) with Two Wheel Transit for tools and wheel parts for this class, so connect with us after you sign up for a class and we'll do a bulk order. P2P has used hubs and a few new rims if you really want to go budget. We're not going to let you build up a used rim though -- or re-use spokes.

So that long-winded explanation pretty much lays it out. We're doing 6 students a class. We're figuring out when the first series is. Or if you have 5 friends that want to do the series, we can work with you on your dates.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sellng some stuff

I took a drive with the family to Seattle last weekend. On the way I made a list of stuff I'm going to sell. It's time to clear some stuff out that I'm just never going to build up, or stuff that I've built up and I'm not riding.

Prices, pics, and terms to come later. Expect non-give-away prices and fussy, high-maintenance preference for local sales because I hate shipping frames.

This is a multi-step process in letting go....

Have you ever considered adoption? An idea for bike lane maintenance

We’ve worked hard in Spokane for a number of official efforts so well summarized in the Aught Nine report posted recently. Here’s an idea for something we could get rolling informally with the goal of a more formal program down the road (ha ha—transportation joke!): Adopt-a-Bike-Lane.

Back row: Casey Owens, Carolyn Cooke, Suzanne Richardson, Cory Bone, Linda Hartley, Margaret Mendoza, Lori Morrison, Merritt Riley and Bill Riley Front row: Althea Riley and Mike Bauer Bill Riley Communities Litter Crew has participated in the Adopt-a-Highway program since April 2005. The group adopted SR512 from Canyon Road to 94th Avenue. Mile Post 6 to 8.I used to have a mile of highway adopted (in north Idaho on Hwy. 41). A few times a year I got out and picked up trash—all the entertainment value of an Easter egg hunt except what you find is NOT chocolate and you DON’T want to put it in your mouth….

What I have in mind for bike lanes is kind of along those lines, but made a lot easier since the city already cleans streets every so often. (No one was off in the weeds alongside Hwy. 41 gathering empty generic vodka bottles and crumpled cigarette packs except me.)

What would be utterly fantastic as a starting point would be people adopting the stretch of bike lane (or designated bike route, or heck, even the two or three feet of a regular street closest to the curb) alongside our homes.

It's essentially a small extension of yard work. When we go out to rake up pine needles or maple leaves in the fall, shovel snow in the winter, or clean off debris in the spring, we just extend our responsibility to include the sidewalk (which is really already our job) and the bike lane. In cold conditions we make sure we’re not rinsing water into the lane where it will freeze and create a hazard. Then we take it a little further and pick up debris: broken glass, lug nuts, stray hubcaps.

When it goes formal with signage, I can see local bike clubs, service clubs, organizations like the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, and others adopting stretches that aren’t in residential areas.

Part of the inspiration for this is, admittedly, a not-very-good neighbor down the road from me. I’ve told a few folks about the encounters I’ve had in front of the house owned by people I have not-so-affectionately nicknamed “The Blockers.”

In the bike lane there I have encountered—kid you not—a cardboard box full of potted plants, a table full of glassware, and a stove—an electric four-burner stove. They routinely set their garbage and green waste bins in the lane. They rake their leaves into the lane (which is a violation of city code, by the way).

They have a perfectly good driveway and lawn that they ignore in favor of the bike lane for all their disposal needs. Those of you who utilize the bike lane going north on Southeast Boulevard below Perry probably recognize this description.

Cruising the Web I've found a few places with something called an Adopt-a-Bike-Lane program that’s really a problem reporting program: Bike/Walk Alliance for Missoula and Fort Collins, for example.

I’m looking for more hands-on solutions. And since when did adopting something mean you only call others to deal with the problems instead of dealing with it yourself?

I'm still poking around for examples and hope we get some posted in the comments.

So what do you think? Would you take this on right now without the fanfare and hoopla? Would you be more likely to do so if you got a nice sign with your individual or group name for acknowledgement of your effort and commitment?

P.S. The trash can image above isn't our neighbors on Southeast Blvd--it's from a San Diego bike blog. Apparently the Blockers have relatives in California.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Speare Effect

John was such a good sport about the Vitus, I thought I should take a look at things from his perspective. So, and likely you've guessed this already, I built up a bike...and parked the car for a while. It's geared like this... And I'm sitting on one of these...
And it's got some of these...which are reported to be the bees knees(time to abolish this phrase)

Furthermore, 531 standard dia., 28c+tires, fenders,headlight.
I want to borrow a small handlebar bag. Anyone?

Bike Hung

For you non-grammarians, "bike hung" is the past tense of "bike hang."

Last week the bike hung was at Steph's house. It was a good time, burritos and beer. I cooked, no one died. Glen brought glossy 80's era bike touring mags and we passed them around like Playboys in a tree fort. A good time was had by all, especially the dogs. The dogs miss you guys! Sanjuro particularly liked Maddie's unicorn.

This week the bike hang is at Neato Burrito, neatly carrying on the burrito and beer theme. But, no dogs. Unicorns OK, but should bring ID.

5:30 Wed.

Monday, January 18, 2010


I rode Alex's new Gifford around Ravena/Interlaken/Capital Hill yesterday morning. Great great bike. Pretty much a perfect do-it-aller. It rides super smooth and seems to have that magic feel on climbs. I would like to ride the Gifford with less-great tires to try to determine just how much greatness can be attributed to the Hetres. But the bike climbs much nicer than my Rawland with the same tires, so there is certainly something going on in the frame there.

Dylan and Alex met me for a quick 1 hour loop at 9am. I over-dressed. I forgot how mild winter can be here. Especially this year, where it's pretty mild in eastern WA too.

Later, I made a wine run for my sister-in-law on their Miran.

This is your basic entry-level mountain bike. Lots of travel in the forks and even a bit on the seatpost. I couldn't figure out how to lock out the suspension on the for. But with fat, under-inflated semi-knobbie tires, the bike was really fun to ride the short distance to the store on a breezy mild Seattle night.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Putting on bicycle races...

Tour of Walla Walla Stage Race, photo: Patty Sprute

During the last few years as an amateur racer trying to gain experience and trying to get in the miles I found it funny that I put more miles on my car traveling to races than I actually rode my bicycle. So why can't we have more races in the Spokane area?

As the "Masters" among us will point out, Spokane has hosted some big bicycle events in the not so distant past: The '84 and '88 Olympic trials, various stage races including the Washington Trust Cycling Classic of the late 80's and early 90's, and the 2002 Masters National Road Championship. Races like this can happen again if there's enough local interest in making it happen.

Tour of Walla Walla Stage Race, photo: Patty Sprute

Spokane is fortunate to have a couple very dedicated race promoters who have been putting on excellent events consistently for over 20 years. Promoters mostly do it "for the love of the sport", as they say, because there is no other good reason to spend the time. My hat comes off to the people in Spokane who have been doing this for many, many years.

As part of my obsession with the hobby of cycling, I have taken on the roll of amateur bike race promoter. I've been happy to discover that promoting and officiating races is almost as fun as racing. What we do is grass roots stuff; basically some guys that like to race bikes after work and on the weekends. Don't expect to come out and watch the Tour de France folks.

water everywhere: filling up bottles for the FMPRR "neutral feed"

But one interesting thing about the sport of bicycle racing in the United States is that 90% of it done at the grass roots level. The pro's that you have maybe heard about, or maybe even have seen on TV, or in person all started racing at races with you and me. Pros like Dave Zabriskie, George Hincapie, Wenatchee local Tyler Farrar, and even that guy from Texas, are USA cyclists who ride at the Tour de France level.

Maybe that is the appeal of having local bike races. Maybe the next star USA athlete will show up at the Twilight Series this spring. But actually, more likely, it's just watching your buddies go out and have fun racing in a good event.

SCR Crit 2009, photo: Tim Wong

What goes into putting on a races? Scheduling, permits, traffic plans, insurance, working with sponsors, working with officials from local municipalities, working with racers, finding volunteers, working with USA Cycling officials, and generally making everyone happy with the event. And did I mention finding volunteers? Stay tuned for more progress reports for the 2010 race season.

Trish at Registration,photo: Sarah Wilson

"For the love of the sport"...

Friday, January 15, 2010

Rockin the Vitus

Glen, Nate, Tom and I took a ride today. One of my favorite loops: Joe's Loop. It was not an ideal time of year to take this ride. We hit some huge pond/puddles, mud, and ice. Also, not ideal for the Vitus maiden voyage.

But guess what? The Vitus ruled. The tiny slick sew-ups did not rule in the soft mud, but the bike was a pleasure to ride. What a cool bike.

I had some surprises today:

1) The bike was not whippy at all. In fact, I don't think it flexed as much as my 747. Surprising. right?

2) Narrow tires are not always bad. I've ridden 25mm rock hard tires before and it's not fun. These sew-ups were still too narrow/hard for my liking, but they were heads and tails more comfy than the few awful 25's I've ridden before. Glen is digging through his stash to see if he can locate some 28mm-ish tires.

3) Giant chain rings, while really hard to push, do make sense when you really want to hammer. And you can't "hammer" on a bike with 46 tooth big ring like you can on a 53.

4) Even for a galoot like me, a light-ass bike does matter. Maybe it's all in the head, but this bike is just so easy to ride fast.

5) Aluminum frames don't all suck. Which leads me to the bigger surprise.

The world of bikes is not as black and white as I regularly attempt to enforce on my thinking. I f'ing love riding bikes. Pretty much all bikes. Some I love riding way more than others, but all bikes have something to offer. And some even have stuff to teach me, if I'm open to it.

I don't know what the deal is with this day and age, but it's so easy to get polarized about EVERYTHING in today's hyper-ass world. I want the bikes, the riding, and the bike people I hang with to be free of that. I think my New Year's resolution is to have less opinions about bikes. Force a clean slate. Everything bike-related doesn't have to fall into either a good bucket or a crappy bucket.

Riding -- and really genuinely loving -- the Vitus today has illustrated all of this stuff to me.