Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Monday, June 28, 2010

Check out the July issue of Decline

Our own Ben Tobin has a five page spread covering the Double Down Hoe Down. The picture above is my favorite. Click for big.

Any photographer can take photos of guys on bikes getting air. It takes a cyclist-photographer to appreciate and capture the moment above, where the racer decides to pick his own line down an established section of trail.

On the Contents page of the same issue, Ben also got a shot of Joe Perrizo doing a flip on the pump track in Ben's front yard.

When I see Ben, I think of last year's Midnight Century. Which is this August 7th this year. Just saying.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Speaking of mountain biking

Maddie has some natural inclination towards mud. She also tends to "burst" when she rides -- hammers for a bit then blows up. Maybe she'll be racing those Weds night races in a few years.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

My first mountain bike race

I did my first mountain bike race last night at the last race of the Wednesday Night Mountain Bike series.

No pics sorry.

The net: I had a blast; I wish I hadn't waited so long to try this.

Glen, of Elephant fame, has been bugging the hell out of me all season to go and do a race. He finally figured out the key to getting me there: tying my participation to the completion of my pending Elephant bike. Nice work Glen.

Here are some thoughts:
  • At the level of racing where I'm at (rookies near the back), I am plenty fast and technical enough to be competitive. I was really worried about slowing people down through the technical stuff, or worse, crashing on the technical stuff and hurting other people. The fact is, everyone shat the bed on the first technical/rocky piece so it came to a near stand still.

  • You get more rests in mountain biking than you do in CX. For about 1/3 of the race, at various times, I was stuck in a long line of cyclists winding through tight single track. You can't pass and you're only as fast as the guy up front. And last night, that speed was never approaching CX speeds.

  • Hills are great places to pass. This is funny to a clydesdale like me -- that I can pass anyone on a hill, but that's where I passed a lot of people -- and at the top of a climb. People tend to blow up near the top of a climb then use the first 50 yards of the flat to recover. I found that if you can push through that and continue to put out -- you can pass even more people on the flat as they recover, then latch on to someone and draft the flat for a bit to recover. Then pass that guy at the next hill. Crazy.

  • I only did one lap. It was a 6.5 mile lap and most people did two laps. So I could go full throttle for the single lap. If I attempted 2 laps, all those people I passed would be passing me on the second lap. So don't think I'm horn-tooting here.

  • The configuration of the Rawland is bugging me. It excels as a drop bar rough stuff long haul tourer commuter. I can't get the flat bar thing to work for me on that bike. A new hard tail (with suspension fork) is in my future. But in theory, I knew all of this. Now I've proven it.

  • As with CX, I'm totally impressed by the community around this event. Spokane cycling community is so rad. Totally inclusive and cool. Gage, at the Steam Plant Grill, provides a big honking keg of great beer after each ride. Jon, at Out There sponsors the race with ads in his magazine; North Division and Emde are also sponsors. I don't know what they do, but I know Michael, and I sort of know Marla and they're both good eggs. Geoff, of Two Wheel, was the sponsoring shop last night. He provided tons of swag. I don't think anyone came away from the event last night without some kind of prize. Geoff has really proven himself to be a great new bike shop owner who loves cycling and enjoys being apart of the cycling community.


But lame that I waited until the last race to try it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


When I was a kid, I used to pray every night for a new bike.

Then, I realized that God doesn't work that way.

So, I stole a bike and prayed for forgiveness.


Monday, June 21, 2010

What are you doing on July 11th?

Remember Metro Spokane? The blog? So great. So missed.
Three years ago, the mysterious Metro posted an idea about trying a Cyclovia in Spokane. That post generated some comments and as far as I know, planted the seed of the idea in many local bikey organizer types (Ah-BillBender- hem!).

Well, Spokane Summer Parkways is the result. Don't know what a summer parkway or a Cyclovia is? Go check out the Spokane Summer Parkways website.

Then click the Volunteer tab and sign up. Because to pull this off, the event still needs over 30 volunteers for the first event on July 11th.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Coeur d' Alene National Forest

No time to carry on about the details. The biggest lesson: how the heck have I lived this close to such a amazingly perfect riding area without ever going there? Roads, climbs, views, camping, solitude, descents, -- tons of all of this. I know DB has been telling me this for years. And Willy mentioned it a time or two. I need to listen better.

I'll be going back to CdA frequently. It's a f'ing huge area with insane exploration possibilities.

I took Phil's RB-T and fulfilled the promise to "put the bike to good use."

Essentially we rode one long day. About 65 miles and 7500 feet of real (non-GPS lies) climbing. So basically, about 1/2 a normal day of GDR pace.

A few pics follow. A few more are at Pat's site. And I'm hoping Alex will post the scenic shots.

That bright thing is Tyvek fender. Channelling Peters*n.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

King Of The Road

I enjoy bike commuting, especially the days when something memorable happens. Okay, when something pleasurably memorable happens. This morning's memorable moment involved an @$$hole.

I was stopped at the red light westbound on North Foothills waiting to cross Ruby and Division. I was in the right wheel track since the lanes aren't that wide. I had the lane to myself. A car and a garbage truck were in the left lane. Looking in my mirror I saw a car approaching behind me but didn't give it much thought--until I looked again and saw it wasn't slowing down. I was preparing to bail to the curb when the car swerved and squeezed in between me and the car in the left lane. The driver and passenger looked straight ahead as if I wasn't there.

I decided I would wait for this car once the light turned green because I had no idea if he was going straight ahead or making a right. But I couldn't let it go without saying something so I rapped on the passenger-side window. They both looked at me and the driver hit the button to lower the window.


I was more than polite and civil. "I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't crowd a cyclist like that. It's very dangerous."

"Well, I'd appreciate it if you'd get out of the f*#%in' road."

So much for killing him with kindness.

With the end of his sentence the light turned green and he jumped forward, cut over in front of the car in the left lane and whipped into the left turn lane to go south on Division. First in line!

As I passed by him and crossed Division I could not help but signal that he should make the next cut at 18 inches. (Hmmm...a new Internet meme?) If you're not familiar with what I'm referring to, then click here to see.

So if you see a dark-colored land yacht with Washington license #815ZDY, give him some room because he's not going to give you any.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

This is not a trend

I had a text-book JRA moment on the trails this morning. The post-event inspection showed a longish skid mark where my front wheel locked up against a rock on the trail. Classic.

The skid mark arcs gracefully off the trail, where I distinctly remembering floating for a surreal millisecond before plummeting down the side of the bluff.

After last week's shameless display of carnage, I'm embarrassed to show pictures of this morning's puncture wounds. So a photo of the post-op table will have to suffice.

And the nurse.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


During the last few months, three local pizza places have received a lot of negative input on this blog and at 26Inch Slicks. Most of the complaints have referred to poor service and staff attitudes.

Last evening, Davids Pizza went a long way to being redeemed in my opinion.

A group of 17 TBC types descended on Davids between 8:15 and 8:30. That many people has to have an impact on a place with maybe 50 seats.

One of our group had pre-ordered six pizzas to be ready at 8:30, and they were set up right on time and the beverage service went quickly and smoothly (and I was ready for a beverage!).

I wish I had gotten the names of the folks taking care of us so I could mention them specifically - as it is, I just have to say "Thanks Davids".

Maybe it's time to give Benneditos and South Perry another try.

Oh yeah, my four assorted slices were great and my 24 oz PBR was chilled to perfection.


Converting a nice solution into a kludge

When I was in Seattle last weekend, Alex met me at a park with a giant bag of rad bike stuff. It was sort of like a drug deal. Probably my favorite item in the giant bag of goods, was the Alex-made LED rear light. This sucker rules. It's made from an old Cat Eye fender reflector. It's a nice mounting deal. And it's bright.

I mounted it on my 747. As you can see, I didn't fuss much on the wire routing. I just wanted to get it rolling, so Gorilla tape saved the day. Looking at this and knowing my tendency to leave stuff alone if it's working/not broken, even I am embarrassed by how shitty that looks.

Routing the wires under the fender is not rocket science: I can un-do the edge of the fender where it's rolled, stuff the wire in there, then re-roll it. Or, I can figure out a way to clip/tape the wire to the underside of the fender.

The section from the bottom bracket to the fork crown presents some problems -- I guess I could zip tie it. Or even do some drilling.

In any case, all the wire-routing/fussing takes time that I don't want to spend. I currently have two sets of wheel components awaiting transformation. And there's always other hacks, fixes, and ad hoc repairs popping up.

I'd like to think I would just take care of this wiring deal to show the proper respect this caliber of bike deserves, but my guess is that the wiring job will look like this year from now, so I might as well get used to it. Sorry Jan. Sorry Mr. Lyon.

In other news, here's what a tree will do to fixed, rigid tree house attachments:

You won't see that on our fancy tree house. This riveting video proves it:

Monday, June 14, 2010

Calling all Vallyites and those that cycle through Spokane Valley

One thing we didn't do so great during the Master Bike Plan work was sync'ing the bike network of the City of Spokane with the existing/planned network of the Valley. There are many reasons for this, mainly, that there really wasn't a Valley plan. But it's more a product of the regional fiefdoms that emerge as sprawl is arbitrarily chopped into different jurisdictions.

You see this at the county as you come travel southbound into Spokane on Wall street. And you see it as you travel westbound from the Valley on Sprague at Fancher road. So, we somehow manage to make car travel contiguous across these borders, but when it comes to bike and pedestrian facilities, it appears to be beyond the scope of transportation planning and implementation. Meh.

As for the Valley, the new city council is looking to make a strong opening move to show their commitment to the anti-taxers by cutting a planned bike lane project on Broadway. That's 80% funded by external grant money.

More detail from Marc Mims:

I'm trying to rally support for a project in Spokane Valley. Our city
council will vote at their June 29th meeting, on a motion to suspend the
Broadway Safety project.

Broadway is a major east-west residential arterial through Spokane
Valley. A few years ago, the section of Broadway from Sullivan Road to
Pines was changed from 4 lanes to a 3-lane configuration---one auto lane
in each direction, a center turn lane, and bike lanes.

Accidents rates are down significantly, there's much better access for
multi-modes of transportation to several schools along the route, and
the bike lanes are used regularly by cyclists.

The Broadway Safety Project would extend the new lane configuration from
Pines to Park. The city applied for and received grant approval to
cover 80% of the cost. However, some members of our current council
have been working hard to cancel the project. Their view: we don't need
bike lanes. It's a waste of money. Bikes don't belong on the streets.
They belong on the sidewalks and the Centennial Trail.

At a recent council meeting, council member Bob McCaslin commented, "We
don't need bike lanes. They have the sidewalk." When reminded by staff
that it's illegal to ride bikes on the sidewalks in Spokane Valley, he
said, "They have to catch you, first."

If the citizens don't communicate their wishes to their council
members, we're going to miss an opportunity to make our city a better,
safer place for cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists alike.

Time is short.

News and announcements related to the project are available at:

Council members can be contacted via email. Their addresses are here:

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Standard Rivendell-inspired city bike mtb conversion

About 7 years ago I did my first Riv-inspired city bike mtb conversion.

I ended up doing a bunch of these conversions. At least a dozen for friends and family. I remember wishing I could find fenders, good city tires, nitto bars/stems, shifters, etc at cost so I could do these conversions cheaper. I think that's partly how P2P came to be.

I'm visiting my brother. Both he and my sister-in-law, Gina, have one of these conversion bikes. Gina's Rockhopper is one of my favorites and I'm pretty sure the first conversion I did for someone else. I always tune it up and find time to ride it when I visit.

It's interesting to see the details of this build now. It's a 6 year-old snapshot of my bike thinking.

For some reason I removed the inside crank and made it a double. I'm not 100% sure what my thinking was there. Maybe to simplify? Was I thinking of putting a shorter spindle in there at some point?

I hadn't discovered cable tips yet. Nor are all of the shifter cables capped with ferrules. There's a lot of frayed cable ends and some split housing. I only spent the time to cut down the excess stays on the front fender. And I still ignored fender lines.

Baskets shipped on all these bikes. As did pretty Nitto bars. I also did the Walds on some bikes, but I preferred the Nittos and tried to convince my people to spend the extra coin on the Dove or the Albatross bars. Nitto Periscopa stems make these conversions work for any person on any bike.

Now that P2P has the accounts to buy most of these components at cost, perhaps I'll build up a few of these for P2P and see how they sell.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


What's Spokane planning for World Naked Bike Ride Day, this Saturday, June 12th?




Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Another reason to ride with a camera

From: Reynolds, Charles [mailto:creynolds@spokanepolice.org]
Sent: Tuesday, June 08, 2010 2:26 PM
To: Bob Lutz;
Subject: Bike lane complaint


We have put the final touches on the carparkedinbikelane@spokanepolice.org email address. We are ready to field complaints and send out letters when we receive all of the necessary information.

In order for us to act on the information we will need the following:

  • accurate location (that can be an address that the vehicle is in front of or “mid block of the 2700 block of S. E. Blvd,” etc.)
  • accurate description of the vehicle (make, model, color)
  • time and date of violation
  • photograph of vehicle parked in the bike lane (this can be attached to the email)

We will send out a notice to the registered owner on the first violation. We will add repeat violators to our Traffic Hotline for officers to investigate further which could include issuing infractions.

We welcome you to put this address out at your BAB meetings and publicize it as much as you can.


Sgt. Jason Reynolds #558
Spokane P.D. Traffic Unit

Monday, June 7, 2010

This was a wreck, not a spill

I think I need to evaluate this whole blogging thing and its effect on my ego. As I wrecked today, in that milli-second of slow motion where I watched my front wheel turn under me, and felt my knee grind into the asphalt, my first thought was, "I'm glad I have my camera..."

To call this an accident would be charitable. The fact is, that adding up the pieces makes for an obvious spill.

Dumb thing #1: patching a patch. It's not because I'm cheap, god knows I'm happy to compulsively blow gobs of money on bike stuff. I patch a patch because I'm stubborn. And proud. I like the idea of getting as much life as possible out of a tube as possible. So. Here's what the blow out looks like.

#2 Not really dumb or obvious, but also not the first time this has happened thing: Air expands when it's warm. This morning, in my chilled (50 F?) garage, I pumped the tires on my 747 up to 80 psi. On my commute home it was over 70 and sunny. The streets I was riding on were hot.

So, the air in my tubes expanded a bit. Normally this would not be a problem, but with my cheesy patch on a patch, the pressure was too much. So the patch blew off and all the air escaped at once.

Most fortunately, I was just standing up and leaning into a turn as my front tire blew up -- one of those standing-pedaling power turns. Perfect time for the tire to blow.

Down I went. A couple good tumbles and rolls. And a perfect photo op.

One bent derailleur hanger. One super shanked derailleur. One busted up brake lever. One pebble embedded in palm. One messed up knee. One scraped shoulder. And yet another ripped wool tshirt. That hurts more than any of the other stuff!!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Where would YOU park your bike?

Exhibit A: An artistic bike rack you’ll find on the north side of the INB Performing Arts Center. It’s accessible from the Centennial Trail, but if you arrive at the front of the building you’ll never know it’s there.

In fact, if you don't read the sign attached to the building wall behind the rack, you might be excused for thinking it's some sort of play sculpture for kids.

(Once you have read the sign, you will be excused for any groaning at puns understandable only by people of a certain age.)

Exhibit B: Where bikes were actually parked on our very rainy Earth Day this year for Mayor Mary Verner’s re-election kick-off. They are all hitched to the sign in the breezeway.

Yes, these photos were taken the same day.

Exhibit C: A Google Map started by local bike commuter Rachel Scrudder to capture bike parking, both racks and indoor options. If you have locations to add click to see the larger image. That will take you to Google where you can edit the map.

View Spokane Bike Parking in a larger map

A thought for people planning the installation of bike racks: If you have a choice between locations and one is covered....

Questions: Did you know that blue spider is a bike rack? Have you ever used it? Would you ever use it?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Idle tandem

A guy named Mark emailed me last week and asked me some questions about my tandem. In my response, I sent him a link to this post from last year. One thing that's interesting about a blog is looking at how you thought exactly one year ago, two years ago, etc. I found it interesting to go through the list of stuff that I wanted to change on the tandem after Liza and I took our first overnighter on it.

I actually accomplished two of the items on the list:
  • I laced up a new rear wheel. Dare I say "bomb proof?" It's a 40-hole, 7 speed ebay special hub laced to a mongo Salsa Gordo. The last Salsa rim I had was a mongo pain to build up, but this one was easy. I went with 7 speed since the NOS Shimano tandem hub was only $40! And my old Burley is 135 OLD and I didn't see a need to get a newer 145 and spread it out. Whatever. Let's be clear though -- show of hands for those who would blame the Salsa rim before the hack wheel builder?
  • Bought a Thudbuster for Liza. Wow. If you are on the fence with a Thudbuster and if you're not sure if it really will make a difference for your stoker, get off the fence. It's an easy $160 (!!) to spend for a seat post to keep the stoker happy. Especially if the stoker is your S.O.

As for the rest of the list. I still need to put a mountain crankset on there, fuss with my bars, and figure out a kickstand solution.

The tandem bummer is that we just don't get out on it enough. We had a plan to do a two-day overnighter this weekend, but Liza's mom (aka: Nonna, aka: "the sitter") got sick. So we down-graded the plan to a lunch-destination ride, which got utterly rained out. Erg.

So instead of riding it, I took it down off the hook, stared at it for a while, took a few photos, and wrote this. All in all, not nearly as satisfying as taking off with Liza for the weekend.

Here's proof of the rain we've had:

I really need to put a proper roof on the tree house.

Siphoning is easy with 10 feet of drop. And a mouthful of pollen'y rain water beats unleaded any day of the week.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Playing On The Way To Work

Twenty years ago in Montgomery, Alabama, Geoff, five years old at the time, and I showed up at the playing field for his soccer game. A thunderstorm had recently passed over and the field was a flooded mess. I pulled him aside and said, "Geoff, I want you to get as wet and as muddy as you can."

His eyes went unbelievably wide at this unbelievable news and with a huge smile beaming he had to verify this. "Really?"

"Really," I said.

And did he ever. Both teams played with uninhibited exuberance, but they weren't playing a lot of soccer. Nary a puddle could be passed by without a stomping splash or a sliding tackle with no opponent nearby. I particularly enjoyed the ball being kicked as it floated on a puddle and erupted from a wide spray of water. The kids couldn't help but turn their heads and squint their eyes in a protective reflex, but their laughter told us they were having a lot of fun.

This morning I opened the garage door to the rain. I threw my panniers on the bike and turned my lights on. And then I said, "Hank, I want you to get as wet as possible on the way to work."


"Really," I said.

I could pass by nary a puddle without my tires drenching my feet and legs with a splash. Water dripping off my helmet in front of my smile created an inexplicable picture of incongruity for the car-bound people waiting with me for the light to change. My gloves smeared the drops on my glasses just enough to create a clear spot here and there. Not to worry, though. If I missed a puddle there were plenty more along the way. Arriving at work, my jersey was plastered to me and you could hear water squishing with every step I took. But there were no dampened spirits on this rain-soaked ride. I got to play all the way to work.

Preparing for a quick two-dayer

I've had a short dirt overnighter planned with some friends for awhile. It's in a couple weeks so the obsessing is starting in earnest now.

It's all dirt roads. Logging roads mostly. Lots of climbing. Hopefully some nice views. I plan on taking Phil's RB-T.

And I don't plan on making a bunch of changes. I put a Brooks on there last week and I've taken the bike for a few rides. It pretty much works out of the box. Since we'll be all dirt and I've guaranteed no rain to my friends, I plan on removing the fenders and putting fat WTB knobbies on it.

I thought of swapping out the bars, but they'll be fine. I'll put some different pedals on it. The shifting seems ok. If I was more thorough, I'd overhaul the hubs and the bottom bracket, but I'll gamble on those. I will clean and lube the chain. Otherwise it's good to go.

Question. What the hey is this:

I've never seen that before. Anyone?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Movie'ing Maddie

I used to take a lot more video of Maddie when she was younger. Here's a few from today.

(Disregard the camera operator's wheezing). She climbs hills like her old man: standing on the slightest hill. And all choppy. I'm so proud. I wonder how that Giant planes for her?

Cheney-Rock Lake Road Race

Well I’ve been negligent in my bloggigness. To recap my season since last post: I’ve been riding some, getting dropped every time on the race course, and working hard putting on races and helping with races. Two out of three positives…you can’t have it all.

Anyway, we’re getting pretty excited about the Cheney-Rock Lake Road Race on June 20th. This is the 2010 the Washington State Elite Championship Road Race. In USA Cycling speak, Elite = Senior = anyone who wants to race. This is opposed to a race that’s limited to Juniors (under age 19) and Masters (over 35 or so). Riders from around the state will be competing for state championship medals, merchandise, and most of all pride.

The Cheney-Rock Lake course offers something for everyone. Racers will be treated to beautiful rolling hills of the Palouse farm lands and channeled scablands south of Cheney. This is classic bike racing!

For this race we wanted to offer something different than the typical circuit races that racers are so used to: a 10-20 mile loop repeated multiple times in order to get the required distance for the races. Cheney is nice in that you can ride out of town and not see another traffic light for 100 miles. To take advantage of that, for this race we're using a combination of three loops: A 73 mile long loop, a 38 mile loop, and a 14 mile extension loop for give everyone the required distances for state championship courses.

Urban legend says that the Inuit’s have 100 words for snow. True or not, I would say that cyclists have even more words for “Hill”. Check the Dictionary of Roadie Slang if you don’t believe me. We in eastern Washington call the terrain in the Palouse “rolling” and that confuses people from other areas. Yes, they are “hills”, but I would not call them “climbs”. Two of the biggest hills on the course are notable: there’s a one mile long 5% “grade”, and .25 mile long “wall”. There are no mountain passes, no crushers, and no other terrain changes that should affect the outcome of the race. Anyway, it’s a pretty good course.

We’re also looking for volunteers for the event. If you’ve ever wanted to check out road racing, but aren’t sure if you’ve got what it takes, volunteering is a great way to get into it. You’ll get to watch the race unfold and support the cause. Email us for more details.

And for your riding pleasure, the State Championship Criterium is being held in Cheney on Saturday June 19th. Details here. We’re doing this as a combined weekend in order to make it more attractive for west siders to travel over for the weekend of racing.

manditory bicycle photos