Monday, March 29, 2010


The new Sunset Junction Trail Head on the Fish Lake Trail at 3:00 PM on a blustery, threatening-to-rain Sunday afternoon.

18 of 24 parking spots were occupied and the trail was full of people.

Now, if we could only get the city (or whoever) to unlock the restrooms.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Yet another Bridgestone hack

I should put a web page of all the Bridgestones I've hacked. It started with the RB-T (new canti post, extra wheel clearance, S&S, bb repair, rear cable hanger), then another RB-T (Kogswell forks, front rack, powdercoat), then an RB-1 (bb repair, canti posts for 650b, rear cable hanger).

Here's the latest. The old MB-2 has suffered through about 5 years of xtracycle'ing. Now, it's going to be a single speed cruiser. Think 26" wheeled BMX. Just lovely. The Softride stem is great, it's been a while since I ran this set up, and I dig it. I just might put a Thudbuster on there to smooth out the rear too.

I'm running 36/18, which puts me right in the chilled-on-flats speed. And I'm pretty sure I can muscle it up the Highdrive Trails if I pick the right route.

Glen replaced the vertical dropouts with horizontal dropouts (with hanger). The new dropouts came out of an old Trek whose front-end hit something solid. They fit just about perfectly into the existing slots.

This last picture is not really related. Glen's neighbor gave him this bottle of magic gunk that does actually appear to be magic. It's a gel you can spray on metal and it stops heat. After we had a few beers Glen announced that he wanted to try something. He got this bottle of magic gunk out and sprayed it on a chunk of scrap steel then heated up the end of the steel to a red glow.

This picture is Pat smiling as he holds on to the other end of the steel rod. Without the gel, Pat's finger tips would be smoldering, but clearly, he's smiling and we didn't drink enough beer to make him not feel the pain. Eventually the gel gave out and the rod heated up. So there's that. Glen and Pat were both very impressed.

Friday, March 26, 2010

RB-T in a box

Dig it.

We're heading out for spring break. By car. The roof rack is full. I'm going to try and stash the coupled RB-T in the back seat.

It all fits pretty easily. There are a couple minor tweaks I need to make to the bike that will simplify packing. Mainly around the stem and front brake cable. I can't imagine stuffing a super nice bike with a really nice paint job in this box. I guess you can use pipe insulators and stuff, but I'm ok with scratching stuff up.

I crammed the wheels, frame and bars in there and then tossed the cranks, saddle and bits in the voids. I'll pack with more care when this bike goes on a plane later this summer.

Liza says I look like a turtle.

It used to be you could haul a bag this size as luggage on a plane for nothing. As long as it came in under 50 pounds. I'm good at 35.5 pounds, but all luggage costs money now apparently.

2010 Spokane Regional Construction Maps Available

Because bicyclists can be affected by construction too, I wanted to let everyone know that the free 2010 Spokane Regional Road Construction Map is now available.

The map is an annual collaboration of area government jurisdictions, including SRTC, Spokane County, the cities of Spokane and Spokane Valley, and the Washington State Department of Transportation.

You can view an electronic version of the map here. You'll have to zoom in though. And just an FYI- you can click the project title to be taken directly to the project location on the map, or vice versa; click the location on the map to see the description of the project.

If you'd like an actual hard copy of the map, you can stop by the SRTC offices at 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310 to pick one up or email me here and I'll throw one in the mail for you.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Another porteur

I've had this Trek 720 for about 4 years. It's a super sweet frame. 1983 was a good year at Trek. A couple years ago, I put some high-rake forks (painted by buddy Patrick) on it and Alex made me the sweet rack. Last year, I bought the Swift Industries bag. Sweet bag. Pretty much rain-proof. And egg-proof too.

Most of it's life with me it's been built up as a fixed gear. In the last couple years I really only get into the fixed gear in the winter when I need a studded bike for ice. Now that winter is over I decided to porteur-ize the bike for tooling around town.

It's got the Nexus 8-speed hub, Albatross bars, and a low stem with lots of reach to push the bars out. It's pretty comfy. I've really been into platform pedals, tennis shoes, jeans, and headphones lately. Maybe it's just a phase, but I dig it. I rode Liza's hacked Fuji this week too.

When you set up a bike with swept-back bars and platform pedals and a big-ass turdy IG hub, it's hard not to chill out and enjoy being on a bike in a way that feels like only a bike can make you feel: I'm in no hurry when I'm rolling like this. And with the spring and the sun coming on, and some good music, I end up taking the long way home. Slowly.

I had a single speed mountain bike for a few days before the chain exploded. It's getting track dropouts at the moment (literally, I think there is a very good chance that Glen is brazing the new dropouts on that bike as I type this). That bike will be a platform pedaled beauty too -- for trail riding and chilled day time cruising. Pics to come.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Turd hauler

Remember the turd? It was a humble work horse. After no one wanted it (even for free!), it hung in my basement for about a year.

Now Rory is going to hack it into a cycle truck. Rory is a member of The Alex Five: the frame and rack building gang of the west side. There's probably more than 5 of them, but I like the sound of "The Alex Five."

Apparently the first step to making a cycle truck is to cut the front end off the frame. So there it is.

Anyway. Hopefully Rory will continue to send picture updates of the progress as the Fuji is built up, like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, into the Turd Hauler and put back into service.

My camera is busted and it's killing me. I need to get another "rugged" one. The last one last over 2 years, which is a record for me.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Get Ready For A Season Of Bike Commuting

I realize I'm probably preaching to the choir here, but I'm trying to help get the word out. If you or someone you know wants to ride but is afraid of traffic there are some classes coming up that can help immensely. Check out the information on Traffic Skills 101 classes and Bike Commuter Workshops on the Bike to Work Spokane web site.

Dang it! I added the closed captioning file but I can't get it to show.

Hey! It's Us, Are We Still Riding?

10 days ago I posted about how "we" can make excuses not to ride. In that post it was mentioned that one of us was going to ride every day for 42 days. Since then there's been a few followers that are riding too (hurray!). Likewise there are probably still a few of us that are procrastinating.

I've found that it doesn't have to be a long ride, one short ride will lead to a second short ride. Which after we realize how good it feels to be back on the bicycle will lead to regular rides and maybe even bicycle commuting.

Look for the wormhole up your hill and go for it. Start small and you'll get stronger and feel better.

Join me! There's 32 days left.

Till later,

Jacque - Out

Paris Roubaix at Steamplant

Check out the post on Team 2 Wheel for all the details, but the net:
-- Watch Paris Roubaix
-- At the Steamplant
-- At 3pm
-- On Sunday April 11th
-- While drinking beer

Before the race, make up a righteous dirt and cobble ride of your own. If you have a good candidate for a 20 mile course, please send me a Bikely route. I always do the same route and now that FLT is paved, a good portion of the dirt is gone from my preferred route.

That's the bike-related part of the post.

We're building a treehouse. Since I can't really find a way to relate this to cycling, watch for random treehouse add-ons to bikey posts.

Thank god I live within spitting distance of an engineer that likes to build stuff. And has great tools.

I had some ideas on how to hang this board from the trees and then ran them by Pat, who obsessed on it a bit, and came up with (and fabricated) these beautiful hangers. I had a plan, but I didn't feel great about it, so honestly, I was hoping to tap into Pat's tendency to obsess.

The goal is to let the tree move and grow and change slowly -- so these brackets are perfect. I can back off the lag screw a half turn once a year or so as the bark grows and heals.

Here's Pat tacking on the supports to the angle iron shelves.

Here's Maddie. Happy with the results. Click for big to see where that bubble is on the level. Hint: DFC.

Happy hanger.

Tiger is not so happy that we're disturbing his burial ground. We've found a lot of bird and squirrel parts as we've fussed around under the trees by the back fence.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Finding a new wormhole: Climbing hard or climbing easy

Years ago a friend of mine taught me about wormholes: those semi-secret byways that locals know that cut miles out of a route or let you skip traffic lights or pesky left turns on busy streets.

Seems to me a wormhole for cyclists does all those things, keeps you out of the heaviest traffic (I’m experienced at riding in traffic but you never get to relax and we all know some streets are more hostile than others), and also does what it can to make climbs easier, which is no small feat in a city with Spokane’s topography.

Twice in the last couple of weeks I’ve needed to climb from downtown to a location around 9th and Cedar, then head east across the hill from there.

I used to live on Cedar, so I know that coming from downtown if you can take that steep climb up old brick pavers on Jefferson from a dead stop at 4th under the freeway, turn right/west and climb another block, then turn left at Adams and climb a bit more, you’re on the shallowest hill climb on that end of the South Hill and it gets easier.* (The bike lane up Maple to Cedar would be okay if I were coming from the west, although it’s not in great shape. The traffic is a lot heavier too.)

On Adams you’re still climbing, mind you, but you don’t have to look at a vertical hill right in front of your face the way you would on Lincoln, say, or Bernard if you were farther east—those streets that make a heart monitor shoot off the charts (or a cyclist get off the bike and walk up the sidewalk, pushing the bike. No false pride for me!).

Choosing your hill—that’s cycling in Spokane.

Going east from 9th and Cedar a couple of weeks ago, though, I rode like a driver. I went to 14th and headed east. After hitting the light at Lincoln, I got to do another one of those steep climbs from a dead stop.
I climbed some more up Grand to 18th, then cut east. This kept me on main through streets, cheek by jowl with a pretty steady flow of traffic (some of it speeding on Grand). It wasn’t particularly pleasant and those steep climbs meant hard work.

The second time, I rode like a cyclist. I remembered that Adams is—wait for it—the shallowest hill climb on that end of the South Hill. So I used that knowledge.

I rode up to 18th, then headed east. While it climbed pretty steadily the whole way, it was gentle and the streets were quiet. You have to make a jig-jog at Lincoln south half a block to continue east around the edge of Cannon Hill Park. Then you can cut through Manito Park and admire the duck pond and the gentle greens of incipient spring growth.
If I were in a car, I couldn’t use 18th all the way—I’d have to turn left at the park to 17th and then double back—but on a bike I had the advantage and the prettier route. I’m aware that uncontrolled intersections add a variable I wouldn’t have on those main through streets with the stop signs and I stayed alert but it was still a lot more enjoyable. Incidentally, something pretty close to this is the route Google Maps shows if you choose the new Bicycling option. (Strangely, though, they send pedestrians over to Monroe and route them along the busiest streets.)

Another great thing about Spokane’s topography awaited me at the corner of 18th and Upper Terrace. From there to get to my destination I had two choices: left and downhill to Rockwood, and then a climb back up, or right and downhill to Rockwood and downhill to my destination. (These are choices I’m intimately familiar with, as Rockwood Bakery is on 18th and I take these routes regularly….) How cool is it that I had two very different options for the same destination?

Adams/18th: SO much easier than 14th/Grand. But if you still want those climbs because you’re in training, hey, you go for it.

Got any wormholes to share?

*Right after writing this post I saw a relevant comment at the end of the March 20, 2010 Slice.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I’m all for conversation but maybe you could just shut up for a while

This line from one of our family favorites—The Fifth Element with Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman and Milla Jovovich—probably ran through the head of the cyclist I met on Riverside Wednesday night. I still don’t know what possessed me. Why did I bother to say anything?

I pedaled up behind him westbound on Riverside, catching him at the stop light at Wall by the STA plaza. Good-looking black bike, fully loaded racks with panniers front and back. At least somewhat safety-oriented rider: wearing two rear-view mirrors clipped to his helmet as compared with my one.

Why do I say “somewhat” safety-oriented? He was wearing all dark clothing, his rear taillight was tucked away in near invisibility under the rack, and it was 5:15, the sun dropping rapidly to the west. He pedaled along slowly in the left-hand tire track of the right-hand lane, while I was riding as far to the right as is safe, per the law.

“Good afternoon,” I called cheerily. No response. “Is he wearing earphones?” I muttered aloud to myself. At that, he turned his head and smiled at me. White guy, long ringlets, soul patch, John Lennon glasses. “Hi,” I said, smiling back.

Light changed. Beat him to the next light, but of course it changed and he caught me on the red—kind of like what all of us do to drivers through downtown as they jackrabbit ahead only to wait for us at the next light.

The thing is, I could feel the impatience of the drivers behind us. Not only that, I could see it. They were stacking up behind us (remember, it’s 515 p.m.). If it had been only me they could have passed, but he blocked the lane. "Share the road" isn't just rhetoric directed at drivers—it's aimed at us, too.

While it’s legal for two riders to ride abreast, we weren’t together when he chose that spot all by himself. We were traveling at different speeds and once I got out ahead of those darn lights, I was going to be gone while he would continue to slow vehicular traffic from his illegal spot.

“You really should get over,” I said, glancing back at the string of cars behind us. “So they can get by.”

He smiled at me, his glasses glinting in the sun. “Thanks for the feedback,” he said politely.

I had to smile. “I thought you’d appreciate it,” I said as I pulled away when the light changed. He rode another block, then from his spot behind and to my left he made a wide right turn onto Lincoln and we went our separate ways.

What do you do when you see a cyclist doing something that irritates drivers, maybe making it harder on the rest of us, and you have the opportunity to say something?

Are we all bike educators, in a sense—trying to improve traffic flow, safety and courtesy among cyclists as well as drivers and pedestrians—or should I remember I haven’t been deputized and just shut up for a while?

What would you have done?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hang plan

The Weds night hang is in flux. Tomorrow is St Patty's, so we'll be steering clear of bars.

Plan tomorrow:
5:45 pm: meet at Polly Judd.
6 pm: Ride

We'll ride the middle trail south to miserable climb to Bernard/Highdrive, then drop back down on the top trail to Polly Judd to land at Huck's by 7pm. This is all swoopy single track with some climbing. The single track is easy, but the bluff drop off can be distracting to newbies.

If you're not into the ride part, then feel free and clear to meet at Huck's. Remember: this is about hanging out and *talking* about bikes. This whole riding thing is new to the Hang, so all bike-talkers are always welcome.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Picture this: A rad dude on a "vintage" Bridgestone MB-2. The MB-2 has been hacked into a single-speed. There's no unsightly chain tensioner. Tight.

The rad dude is track standing in the front of a long line of traffic at a busy intersection waiting for a red light to turn. He's listening to 20 year-old rad punk music in his mp3 player. It's a sunny day and life is good. And rad. He's aloof but ready to hammer off the line.

The light turns green and he lays into his pedals with all of the fury of his middle-aged strength. Bad Religion drowns out the POP! his chain makes as it snaps.

His elegant chain line was the result of hours of filing, grinding, and chain-length fussing -- indeed, he had to add and remove his half-chain-link a number of times as he tried different combinations of freewheel and chainring.

In the split second he slams his members into the top tube of his vintage steel, he ponders the hackneyed phrase, "you're only as strong as your weakest link." The phrase, as it turns out, does make some sense.

Cars move around him, perplexed drivers staring. Another cyclists rides by and says something the rad dude can't hear. Was it, "that didn't look good..."?

By now the top-tube has made clear it's immovable, cold, steel resolve upon the rad dude's groin. Tears well up in the rad dude's eyes as he picks up the chain and limps his bike to the side walk, where he will call for a ride home for the second time.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Music To Ride By

With apologies to Lynyrd Skynyrd--if you're not familiar with the song you can check it out here--I offer up this for every cyclist riding in traffic.

Gimme Three Feet

I was riding along,
My head stuck on this song,
Right wheel tracking in my lane.
When the cars in the mirror
Brought on my greatest of fears.
They think passin' bikes is a game.

They would brush by close
As if they wanted to boast
Of making three lanes from two.
Now I don't like to fight
But this just isn't right
And I'm lookin' out for you know who.

Oh, won't you gimme three feet,
Gimme three feet, drivers.
Gimme three feet and go around.
Gimme three feet.
Gimme three feet, drivers,
And we make it home safe and sound.

I know that I'm slow,
But we're sharing the road
So please don't make me squirm.
Go ahead and zoom
After you give me some room
And I'll go back to hearing this earworm.

Hey, there fellow
With the truck painted yellow,
I pay my taxes, too.
I know that you'd be swayed
If you and I would trade
And this cyclist now was you.

So gimme three feet,
Gimme three feet, drivers.
Gimme three feet and go around.
Gimme three feet.
Gimme three feet, drivers,
And we make it home safe and sound.

I can already hear it playing. Can't you?

Sa-weet road find


I see lots of tools on the side of the road when I ride. I've stopped picking up channel lock pliers.

As we rode down Broadway this morning I saw this wrench in a flash as we passed. It took me another 10 feet or so to process what I'd seen. All I knew is that whatever the wrench was, it was metric.

Hells yeah. A 8 mm/10 mm combo wrench. How perfect is that? I never find such obvious bikey tools like this.

I was thinking it was about the best road find one could hope for. But the obvious holy grail of all bike finds would be the Hozan Rock Ring Wrench.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Stealing Nate's post

I hacked this out of Nate's private fancy invite-only blog. From our ride on Friday....

This is a great ride. I think the last time I rode this was with Jason.

Sorry about the formatting.


East Temple Road.

Today's half-century-plus took John, Friday Ride newcomer Andrew, Tom and I to a place where winter actually visited, and still lingers. I had a heavy sack of rain and warmth gear on my back, but the promised rain never came, except in spits. It was much warmer than yesterday. We did however meet with lots of wind and plenty of mud.

We started at the Scoop for coffee. John was eager to get going. We made our descent on Bernard, and headed out Centenial Trail. We climbed deadly Lehman Hill and made our way to Temple.

The climb up Temple is double-deadly, but the views are great...

 all directions.

The guys waited for me to catch up on the hills.

At the top of the hill, the eastside gravel road turns to dirt. There was snow, mud, lots of water flowing.

The temp dropped in shaded, protected parts of the road, though there was little ice.

I walked some of the slipperiest sections, but still managed to fall off the bike once in some snow. (The others rode the whole of it.) But the descent was a blast, and the woods a beautiful place to be.

We stopped for some gas station food by Newman Lake, and I took a look at my shoes under the table. Heh!

The ride home back on CT was up tempo, into the wind. That section of the CT is pretty on the river side, but bleak on the other. I was getting tired. Tom and I high-fived when my odometer hit 50, then again when his turned 50 a mile later. By the time I got home I was at 57.1, my longest single ride of the year so far.