Friday, April 30, 2010

Hire a cyclist

This is cycling related how?

Scott McSpadden is a local bike racer. Brother of Taylor. And a great GC. He's thorough, meticulous, fair, clean, and does what he says he's gonna do.

He just finished our downstairs bathroom. This is my bathroom. Here's the before:

See where that mirror is? Under that was an old window. We needed more light and I like annoying stark random blasts of color first thing in the morning. Scott delivered. Dig it:

We found a bunch of tile at the Habitat for Humanity store. Turns out the tile was made here in Spokane.

I also have a small wall mounted heater so I can hang/dry clothes after wet rides. Not pictured.

Next up, he's going to work on some stairs, and some basement rooms. And then the finale... wait for it... a sauna! F YEAH! For those miserable 35F and wet rides where you stay cold to the bone even after a 1/2 hour shower. Only a sauna can do you right. Yes!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Busted chain, new project, stuff and other stuff, etc

The Kent-Peterson-Shadow-Photo. Every bike blogger is required to take this shot at some point. I think this is my second, but I'm too lazy to go and try and find the other.

Patrick, of Scoop fame, rockin Deno road.

Broken chain. Oh the horror! The totally unfixable bike failure.

I rule! I've been carrying chain breakers for years! And I rarely get to feel that smug satisfaction of having one when I really need one. I got that feeling on Sunday. Fixed it up and rode home. It's a shame I was less than a mile from home. And there was no one around to appreciate it or be impressed. Hence, the blog. Yes!

Rad dude on High Drive trails with kid on a tow-a-bike. So cool. Nicely done dad.

Justino and Kira -- hauling kid. On the new tandem. Steve (?) looking on. This picture does not do justice to the extreme shine that the bike puts out upon reflection in the sun. Justin was a buffing fool. That Erickson shines. The paint, the chrome, even the aluminum shined.

District 2 Councilman Snyder showing extreme satisfaction with his new rear rack. The best off-the-self-rear-rack in the history of human kind: the Tubus Fly. But ANY rear rack would be an improvement of that awfully mounted turd of a crime of a rack he had on there before.

Next upgrade in the hopper for Jon: generator lighting solution.

Teaser. New project on the way. It's a 'tweener project, to hold me over until Mr Copus is done with my Gifford. I gotta get back on those Hetres and Mr. Copus' queue is pretty full at the moment.

I put rear brakes on the latest version of the Trek 720. I'm diggin the platforms, the internal hub. Good setup. I think I'll put fatter Pasalas on there though. I'd like a tad more cush.

Oh. Another hint... sneaky!

We Want To Hear From You If You Bike On The West Plains

Do you bicycle, live or work in the West Plains area? Are you scared to ride on US 2? Would you ride to the airport if there was a better way to store your bike while travelling? These are all questions we're looking for answers to with Spokane Regional Transportation Council's West Plains-Spokane International Airport Transportation Study.

Don't get me wrong, this study isn't just about bicycling in the West Plains- it's actually a multi-modal look at all transportation in the study area (shown in the map below)- but bicycling connectivity and safety are areas that we look at in-depth.

SRTC is conducting this study in response to development of the airport business park, land use changes, and the effect those changes will have on the surrounding roadway network. The goal is to create a balanced plan for making connections and transportation improvements and increase mobility and safety for residents, employees, and visitors to the study area.

We are to the point now where we need public input. SRTC is hosting an open house next Tuesday, May 4 from 4-7 p.m. at the Northern Quest Resort and Casino. Here's a flyer for the meeting. Everyone is invited, and what better place to attend a meeting than a casino?

Please come tell us what issues you see regarding transportation in the West Plains area and your proposals to fix them. There will be a survey aimed specifically at gathering feedback on bicycling, walking, and buses in the area.

To see a larger version of the study area map, or for more information on the West Plains- Spokane International Airport Study, click here.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

1st S24O o' 10

Details at Pat's blog.

Main take-aways:
  • Although the destination was a bit heavy (historically speaking), it was a pleasant place. We agreed that we'd likely not go back, but it was fun to check out a new destination.
  • Geologically speaking, there are pockets of little surprises all over the Palouse. And plenty of dirt roads to go around. There's a lot of exploration to be done out there.
  • Ten FIDY is the king of S24O beers. Wow. The GUBNA Imperial IPA is serious. Too serious for my liking after a ride. Silly names aside, these are good beers to have a friend pack.
  • Speaking of which, it's good to have a S24O riding partner who hauls a lot of shit. My friend Pat brought: 1/2 my water, all of my beer, all of my coffee, and 1/2 my dinner. It's like having a Sherpa that can cook!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Journey of a new bike commuter: Towing your bundle of joy

You don't have to be in shape, you don't have to have a fancy bike, and you don't even have to know the difference between a headset and a cassette to get out there and start bicycle commuting. I used to ride my bike around the neighborhood as a child, but I hadn't really ridden in years and I considered myself lucky to even know how to fix a flat tire.

I have since grown up, and easily grew away from my bike, with my busy lifestyle and my 20 mile commute out to EWU, and back every day. I always cared about the environment and always made sure to recycle and use cloth diapers and all of that, but when I saw my other crunchy friends out there riding their bikes instead of driving their cars, did I join them? No.

I wanted to try it out a couple of years ago, but it just didn't take off. My first ride was a whopping 8 miles, while 7 months pregnant. I actually had no problem with the ride, but I scared the wits out of my childbirth teacher! After that, for one reason or another, I just never got back on my bike – most of them having to do with the fact that I was commuting to EWU, and the time required to ride 4 miles to and back from church every week was too great since I could never manage to make it on time via a 10 minute car trip.

My daughter was born at the end of June that year, and I found myself wishing many times throughout the summer that I could get out on my bike, with or without her. I got on to Google, my go-to for answers to life's questions, and started looking for information about taking small babies on bikes. I'll tell you now, the prospects didn't look good; shaken [by a bike trailer] baby syndrome was one of the big worries, plus the fact that they just don't make bicycle helmets for newborns. So, just like with so many other things I had suddenly realized you just can't do for a few years as a new parent, I shelved the idea of bicycle commuting for the rest of the year.

Finally, it was cycling season again, and my baby was now 9 months old. I had just graduated from college and I was ready to get us out on a bike! I started browsing Craigslist for a trailer, but every time I would find one and call the seller, I'd find out it had already been sold – dang! Finally, I found one for sale in Pullman and decided to make the trek. Something seemed a bit ironic about driving my car so far with the ultimate goal of riding my bike to be more green, but I also took the opportunity to visit some friends while I was in the area. That makes it ok, right?

After a nice trip, we got the trailer home and I got to work. I had picked up an In-Step Quick 'N Lite trailer, which has a hammock type seat inside for the child. My plan was to mount a car seat inside, but this sloping, curved seat made things interesting. As if the universe was finally trying to help me on my way, I just so happened to have the perfect car seat: a Cosco Scenera convertible that I had gotten for free from my daughter's HMO.

All I had to do was fold up the rear foot (this is how you convert it to be installed rear-facing in the car), run the rear tether strap (used while the seat is forward-facing in the car) up over the trailers top crossbar, and down again to the rear part of the frame. I wrapped the tether around the frame and clipped its latch back on to the strap. After that, I simply ran the trailer's lap belt through the section of the car seat where you'd run the car's lap belt.

Presto! I was amazed at how secure the seat was inside of the trailer. I shook the the whole thing and even tipped it over sideways and the seat didn't budge. After a trip to REI for their smallest helmet, we were ready to go!

Excitedly, I hooked the trailer up to my 10-year-old Walmart bike (yes, the same one I used to ride around the neighborhood as a child) and we were off! I did have to stick a pillow behind my daughter's back to make room for the huge bulk of the helmet, but from there we went to play dates, the grocery store, and even the coffee shop for our weekly game night.

I was finally on my bike, and I loved it; we loved it! There I was, free to go where I'd like with the wind in my hair, and she got this awesome view of the whole world rolling by. I was reducing my footprint but – best of all for a poor, unemployed college grad living in this age of high gas prices – I also wasn't paying out the nose for gas anymore!

I'm glad to say that I had finally gotten off on the right foot. Things have changed quite a bit in the last year as I've gotten stronger, become more confident in traffic, and tried out different bikes, gear, and trailers, but I'm still with it and way more in to it than I ever would have guessed!

Stay tuned for more about my experiences as a new bike commuter!

Getting ready for Bike to Work Week? Picking a route & other tips

One of the most common questions we hear from potential bike commuters as we gear up for Bike to Work Week reflects nervousness over picking a safe route. A few suggestions and tools for you to go with the starter info on the Bike to Work Spokane site:

Warm up. Don't make your Bike to Work Week commute your very first ride of the year. The mild weather this year makes that unlikely for experienced commuters but if you’re a first-timer inspired by the event we want you to be ready for it.

Prep your equipment. Make sure your bike is in good working order: tires pumped, brakes working, reflector/lights if you’ll be riding after dark, helmet straps adjusted, and all the rest. Stop by one of our great local bike shops for a once-over. And now, on to the route:

Scout the route. Consider a practice ride on the weekend so you can work out the kinks or alter your route if need be. This will also help you determine how much time you need.

Scout on your bike, not in your car—perceptions are very different! Recognize that side streets are quieter but those uncontrolled intersections present their own risks. If you usually drive on major arterials that feel too busy on your bike, try shifting just a block or two.

Leave a little early on your first day. Of course, if you’re riding anywhere near downtown Spokane on Monday, May 17, you want to leave early anyway so you can come to the Kickoff Breakfast for some pancakes courtesy of Silver Spoke sponsor Mountain Gear and the chance to “Ride the Edge” with a new custom coffee blend from Pedal Partner Roasthouse Coffee.

Try these tools for route selection.

Just ask Google: Google Maps
  • Type in an address.
  • Zoom in on the maps and select the "More" tab.
  • Check the Bicycling box to see the safest bike routes marked in green on the map. These appear to be bike lanes or signed shared lanes.
  • Try “Streets View” to see actual conditions.
  • Click “Directions” and add your destination. (You’ll need to choose Bicycling again—default is set to By Car).

This isn’t a perfect tool by any means. The best route from my house to the Riverpoint Campus—“best” meaning better street design and lower traffic count—uses the bike lane on Southeast Boulevard but Google Maps routed me differently. That’s why you still need to scout.

Localized info online: John Speare collected real bike commuter routes via GPS by riding with people who volunteered and mapped them. This shows you routes already in use by area bike commuters.

Localized info online II: lets you create a user profile and map routes. Once you’re a member you can search for routes in Spokane. These often include notes about the route that can be very useful (traffic volume, what the street or road is like, resources along the way) and tags indicating type of road and surface. Some are recreational rides or race routes, others are commuter routes. Some even have video! (Security note: You may not want to label a route with “home” in the name—you’re telling people where you live and marking it on a map. Start from a nearby intersection.)

Not-sure-it’s-working localized info online III: is similar to MapMyRide. I couldn’t get the page to load successfully in either Chrome or IE7 but could see a recent cached version in Google. It may work for you.

Localized info online IV: Spokane’s master bike plan shows current and future designated routes. The Maps & Trails page on the Bike to Work site links to various area maps.

Expert people: Get in touch with Eileen Hyatt, She provides personalized suggestions for the best route based on years of experience riding Spokane’s streets. She’ll even meet up with you to check out possible alternatives.

Events with people: Come down (ride down!) to the Education Fair Sunday, May 16, at River Park Square, 10am-4pm. We’ll have information tables and experienced commuters who can talk routes and technique with you.

People you work with: See if there’s a Commute Challenge team forming in your workplace or school (r start one yourself!). Odds are there’s someone whose route matches yours (at least for the last few hundred yards) and you’ll learn where they park their bikes, whether there are showers in your building if that’s important for you, and other insider tips.

After all your prep: Don’t forget to register for Bike to Work Week! When you stand up to be counted it helps us make the case for more of the 5 E’s for bikes: Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, and Evaluation.

And above all, have fun.

P.S.: Perhaps the single most common error seen on new bike commuters? Wearing your helmet tipped too far back on your head. Check out brain anatomy, folks—the frontal lobe is a really important part and it’s right in front. Seat the helmet low on your forehead!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bags, tree, Barb, great bike

Some random bikey stuff.

Here are my three main bags. If I'm not riding a bike with a rack then I'll take one of these.

From the left:
Banjo Bag: cheap. Light weight. Comfy. I use this more than any other bag at the moment. It's the right size and I'm really happy with how nice it feels. It's not waterproof. I got it for $20 on close out at 2 Wheel Transit.

Liza's Timbuktu. I bought this for Liza from Beth H a few years ago. It's nice size for going out at night (dare I say man purse?). Fits a U-lock and a sweater. It doesn't have a wrap-around chest strap thing, so I don't use it for commuting, but it's great for tooling around.

The Chrome bag. I bought this from a friend of mine who owns a shop in Olympia. It's a great bag. Very comfy for heavy and big loads. Super water proof. And with the buckle, you look like a tough guy. I actually don't like the buckle; it's unnecessarily heavy and clunky when you set it down (say, on a glass top counter or table).

This bag is an REI "Flash" from a couple years ago. I added the reflective strips. Mike, the shoe cobbler, did a really good job of adding pockets to the outside. They're perfect for holding snacks or a water bottle. I fixed up this bag specifically for the Midnight Century. I use it for long rides off road, almost exclusively in the summer. It also holds a water bladder, so that's handy.

So that's the bag part of the post.

Check out that tree. Am I getting older and wiser, or are the flowering cherry trees prettier than ever this year? Man alive.

This is Barb. Running a Bicycle Advisory Board meeting while changing a flat. If she had a third hand she'd be tweeting.

Great bike. In the box up front is about 20 pounds of bike crud for the P2P shop. In the Ortlieb: lunch, rain gear, u-lock, other assorted daily crap. Riding it through the rainy wet streets down to work with that load was a joy. It helps that the commute to work is nearly all down hill, so it's nearly always a joy.

Mr Copus is building me a 650b version of this machine. AKA, The Gifford. I must have a badass bike that takes the Hetre tires. And I'm excited for the Paris-Motos too.

But I'll always dig this bike. It's just so damn reliable and able and humble.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bike Commuter Tips You Won't Get Anywhere Else

Bike to Work Week is coming up soon and I strongly encourage those who haven't tried cycling to work to do so at least once. And then once more. You can find a multitude of commuting tips on the Internet, but I want to share a few that you probably won't find. (I should qualify that some of these are from a guy's perspective.)

1) You will forget something every once in a while. Someone is bound to notice if you're not wearing socks and you can laugh that off. If you like you can tell a funny story about drying off with paper towels after your shower. But it's not necessary for you to share that you're going commando.

2) It's best to double check that you locked the door of the room your changing/showering in before you undress. Your coworkers already have enough to talk about.

3) Nearly 100 per cent of the time you have only a split second to respond to passing cars in which someone screams at you, calls you a name, or yells for you to get off the road. Rather than developing a reflexive "f*#% you!", which could backfire on you occasionally, you can enjoy passing the time by thinking of creative ways to respond if you had their attention for a minute or so.

* The intellectual insult: "A thinking person would disagree with you and also wouldn't waste his time talking to you about it."

* Shame: "Your momma would be so proud to see you now."

* The straight up insult: "I'm trying to see things from your point of view but I can't get my head up my @$$."

* Go Pulp Fiction on 'em: "Well allow me to retort! The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and fu-u-u-u-urious anger...."

Whoa, whoa, WHOA NOW!!! Take a deep cleansing breath. Whew!

This can be an enjoyable exercise as you explore your creativity and pleasurably appreciate your thoughts. But don't go too far. Happy bike commuting!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The tandem lives!

"Soooo. How would you feel about riding...a tandem?!" Said Justin with a hint of glee and ounce of trepidation.
"No," replied Kira.
"Shoot. Well, I'm driving out to Spangle to check out this..."
"How are you going to pay for it?"
"Well, I thought that I could sell some stuff later and..."
"How are you going to pay for it now, today?"
2 months pass. As well as many hints and seeds of tandemness dropped throughout.
Kira: "Hmmm. I suppose I could give that tandem riding a try. Maybe we could..."
Me: "REALLY!? REALLY!!!??? I have to go out to the garage. Right Now. Bye."
Which brings us to today. And this:

Monday, April 19, 2010

Bike commuters wanted

Click for big to check out the bike that all commuters should ride. Always. In every case.

On May 16th, the Bike-to-Work people are putting on an education fair at Riverpark Square. The point of the fair is to get bike information to the masses. More specifically, I think the potential value in the fair is getting on-the-fencers talking to bike commuters in a familiar (not a bike shop) mall environment.

To this end, the Bike-to-Work organizers are looking for bike commuters to come down to Riverpark Square and hang out for a few hours on May 16. Ideally, you would bring your bike, some commuting gear, and your willingness to share your story with people.

Here's the kicker: I happen to think that non-geeky, non-stinky, non-male, non-racers are the best fit for this job. These are generalizations. Stinky males can do an ok job here. The geeky guys and racer types, not usually -- since they're typically so passionate about their bike beliefs.

I fall into the geeky camp, by the way. It's really hard for me to accept that all commuters don't ride exact copies of my bike. And so, even when I try not to, I tend to push people in my way of thinking: front loads, steel bikes, drop bars, fattish tires, fenders, Ortliebs, etc.

Anyway, I further think people that have started (and have continued) to commute in the last couple years are the best at this job. All of the hurdles are still fresh in their minds. The learning curve is still in action. The smart ones are not self-proclaimed experts (yet). For the most part, they're genuinely joyous in their discovery of bike commuting and can't believe more people don't try it. They're not (yet) out to prove to the world how hardcore they can be in how long/far/fast they commute in any weather.

So, if you want to share your story with a potential version of you a few (or many) years ago, please send mail to and tell Amy you want to volunteer for a shift at the Education Fair on May 16th.

Be sure to register for BTW this year. Having strong numbers for BTW week is one of many bits of data that helps to make a case for more funding for bike/ped facilities.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

600th post: Warm Part 2

This weekend was like a June weekend. Sunny, warm and shirtsleevy. Liza was not taking part in the shirtsleeve part. Bikes everywhere.

Maddie rocked the single speed old school style on a ride down to a buddy's house. Her knees are almost hitting the bars when she stands and pedals on this bike.

High Drive trails. Justino.

Justin and Joe ponder TJ Meenach.
Joe on the river trail below the mega church.
And Pat.

On the treehouse front, much progress was made. The floor is done. And it's framed.

Thanks to Pat. It's amazing what an actual carpenter with hardcore tools can do in 1.5 hours. Pat left his nail gun and super portable miter hardcore crazy Dewalt saw for me to finish up the framing. But it was his brain that made the angles work, in a flurry of mumbling, figuring, and chicken-scratching.

Friday, April 16, 2010


Flowers are out on the High Drive trails.

I heard it was over 70F today. I believe it. I rode all day in my shirtsleeves and Liza and I -- with light sweaters -- just had coffee and dessert outside at 9pm. It's like summer.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tuesday Night Twilight Series

Eric Abbott leads the peloton through some tight corners at Spokane County Raceway. Photo: Tim Wong

Tuesday night Twilight Series road races start next week! These races are a weekly staple for many local lycra-clad rodies. They're also a low key, low stress way to get into bicycle road racing. The weekly series usually attracts 60-100 cyclists of all ages and abilities, divided into four fields: A, B, C, and Women. A-pack riders are the most experienced racers, and hence the fastest, B's are intermediate, and C's are new racers and Masters age 50+ racers. Women may race in any pack they choose, but most women race in the dedicated women's pack. Distances range from 15-30 miles, or 30-100 minutes.

The peloton racing down the dragstrip area of Spokane County Raceway. Photo: Tim Wong

Hosted by Baddlands Cycling, racing happens almost every Tuesday night of the spring and summer at various spots around the Spokane area. The first race was cancelled because of an issue with a venue. Therefor racing starts this Tuesday, April 20th, in Cheney WA. Check the Baddlands site for complete details!

Transportation Secretary Criticized For Bicycle Policy

Can anyone name any U.S. Transportation Secretaries throughout history? Me neither. Until now. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood (pictured) has made a name for himself with not only political watchers but also everyday people, and particularly bicyclists, because of his stance on non-motorized transportation and transit.

Until now, the position of Transportation Secretary has been a pretty low-profile post. LaHood has raised awareness of it with his new bicycling policy, which says the government is going to give bicycling and walking the same importance as automobiles in transportation planning and the selection of projects for federal money.

But while he's considered somewhat of a rockstar with bicycle, pedestrian, and transit advocates, some conservatives and many in the trucking and manufacturing industries consider LaHood a radical. One congressman even went so far as to suggest LaHood's new policy is a result of him being on drugs and asked if he thinks freight is going to be distributed between states by bicycle.

I found this article from the Associated Press about LaHood's situation pretty interesting. I can see both sides' points because of my position at Spokane Regional Transportation Council, but I feel there's a compromise that can be reached if everyone acts like an adult about it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pulleys rule

Warning: Today's post contains zero bike content. If you're looking for bike stuff, there's nothing to see here. Otherwise, consider it a blog tax. Guest bloggers: you're not allowed to do this. Well, maybe gNate could get away with it.

I've always like the idea of pulleys but I've never really sat down and figured out how they work. Turns out it's very simple. The piece that made it click for me is that for each pulley you add to a line, you're dividing the weight by the number of pulleys. And your multiplying the amount of line by the same amount.

So: add two pulleys to a line and you've halved the amount of weight you need to pull and doubled the amount of line your pulling.

Anyway, this entry on "How Stuff Works" lays it out nicely.

Maddie and I have been playing with pulleys the last couple days and it rules. We may use this method for entering the treehouse if we can figure out a foolproof sling/platform/harness/rope stop that any kid can use. If not, then we'll definitely keep the pulley system for hauling stuff up.

Here's a single pulley:

Simple and intuitive. You pull an armload of rope, you raise up one armload.

Here's two pulleys:

Though this is easier to lift, the complexity has increased. There are ropes everywhere and any parent worth their salt will look at that pulley there by little fingers and hair and just cringe. After we took this video, Maddie caught her finger, then little wisps of hair in the pulley. I suck.

Here's two pulleys with a seat to avoid the finger/hair-in-the-pulley issue:

Way too much complexity. It's not easy to hold on to the rope while balancing yourself on the seat. We've got some more testing and figuring to do.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Bike Candy

Glen C. did me an honest yesterday evening, drilling out, with a steady hand, the remnants of a cable adjuster that had bonded inextricably with the tandem frame. He also managed to scrounge up some simichrome, the toothpastey-wonder of the metal polishing world, which I put to use today.
PS I miss the bike hang.

Ronde van Palouse

The Ronde' was a big success! I don't even know where to go with this post, so here's kind of a summary of how the weekend went down.

The prep work:

Nobody usually sees or cares about the work that goes into putting on a race. If all goes well, this stuff is invisible. But John asked me to give a promoters perspective, so here goes. I must have made 10 trips down to the course during the last six months, either going by bike, or by car. I probably could have gotten away with less, but I really enjoy thinking things through on every level. So eventually, the course was swept, pot holes marked, sign positions laid out, corner marshal positions established, residents informed, and every safety issue we could think of were addressed. We also got our permits, begged for volunteers, gathered equipment, updated the webpage, and fine tuned our registration process.

Pat Sprute, our dedicated course engineer, in charge of the signs

Tony's "paper plate race" morphed into a full production, USAC sanctioned amateur bicycle race.

Race Day:

This is such a totally different type of race that we didn't even know who would show up. This stuff isn't for everyone, that's for sure. Will we get 20 racers or 200 racers? We honestly had no idea. So we were happy with the 65 that came out.

Alan Jacob made these trophies at his house. We never knew he was an artist. Photo: Alan Jacob

The Cat 1/2/3 field starts the race under blue skies on Kentuck Trails Road. Photo: Alan Jacob

Tire selection (and luck) was key to getting through the gravel without flatting. Photo: Alan Jacob

Putting on races is such a team effort. Thank you very much to all of our volunteers! And thanks of course, to the local racing community for coming out! This is just the beginning. We've got a whole season of racing ahead of us. More to come!