Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Muddy Tuesday

Like Stine, my bikey thoughts right now are preoccupied with spring and summer. My commute is just a steaming pile of a piece of shit right now which is only *just* better than riding the over-crowded bus.

My spring quarter schedule is taking shape and there's this outside chance, and it's pretty far outside -- that I could have no classes Tues/Thurs. If that comes to pass, I will still go out to Cheney on Tues/Thurs, but I could take the long way.

In the second best scenario, I won't have to be out there until 10 AM or so, which would allow me to ride round trip on Tuesday/Thursdays.

In both cases, I'm picturing myself taking a route out to Cheney that starts by dropping into the HD trails at 25th, hooking into the trail version of the White Road climb, and then peeling south at the final climb -- so instead of going to the top of White, you pop out at Viewmont, to hook into Cedar.

Once the days get long, a guy could come home by jumping on the FLT and then peeling east at Scribner to take on the business half of Joe's Loop.

Spring break is coming up. My spring break does not line up with Maddie's, which is not ideal, because it would've been fun to attempt our first Joad trip. (Joad refers to the camping hack that we are applying to Liza's old Toyota pick up -- essentially: making a covered wagon sort of deal on it). But since she'll be in school, this leaves me a week to go do something. Whatever that something is will involve mountain biking. And it will likely involve some Joading on the west side of the state.

Then there's summer. The cornerstone of my new life as a student/teacher--then teacher --  is to take advantage of a profession that allows a three month break once a year. That is the main point. It's clearly not the money. Maddie and I are planning some adventures this summer: we've got river, sailboats, ocean, Joad camping. I'm trying not to nail down super solid plans so we can be flexible to hook into family and friend's fixed schedules, but we're wide open. And that's taking up some space in my mind during these cold shit wet muddy ice crap days of limited riding.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

First White Road climb o' the year

It was everything we expected it to be: cold, lame, depressing, wet, icy, difficult. And fun in that weird way.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Maddie's Grape bike

 Maddie and I took a quick spin around the 'hood today.

She's grown enough to fit nicely on the Grape bike. She was a bit too stretched out last year on this bike, and as result, she was a bit hesitant and shaky on it, preferring instead to ride the Elephant.

Once she feels more comfortable on this bike, we'll pop the saddle up a bit. Maybe this will be the year of the o'er nighter. She dabbled in trail riding two summers ago, but I hadn't really appreciated Riverside State Park as the ideal kid-mountain-bike-introduction nirvana that it clearly is.  Now that I 'get' RSP, we'll be spending some time there when the snow goes away. I. Must. Be. Cool.

She told me in very non-ambiguous language today that she is NOT getting rid of the Elephant. Ever. Her basic argument is that since it's only the second kid Elephant ever, she has a responsibility to protect it. I countered with the notion that given it's radness, it should be shared and appreciated by many. She asked me to imagine that the Bridgestone I was riding was the second Bridgestone ever made: would I share it? Props for working the argument, but yeah, I'd share. Hopefully she buys that and ponders her position. We'll see.

Anyway, we can probably get one more year out of the Elephant, but we'll need to put some drops on there or configure it otherwise so she can stretch out a bit more. She's skeptical. As such, this is a process best handled by an expert. So we'll be showing up at Glen's shop soon for proper fitting and consultation.

The last couple years I've bit my tongue, clenched my teeth, and generally just forced myself not to impose my bikey will on Maddie. At the same time, I try to provide a rich bike ecosystem around her should she choose to partake. Perhaps this is the year she will grab hold of her grape grips and become obsessed. In a good way. Whatever.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Subsequent Thursday

Different bike made a difference.
Sorry about that fender Rory.

Bits of pavement made a difference too.
I was 1:40 getting home today.
Last Thursday -- on this route, with more snow, on the Rawland --  was 2:05.

Anderson Road

Sherman Road

Marshall Road

There's still enough ice and sheer ice out there to keep you on your toes. 

These are not studded tires. They're one of my favorite all-rounders: Maxxis Locust CX tires: front at 40 psi and rear at 60 psi.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


The commute is slow. 
Well. I'm slow. The tires are slow. The surface is slow. 
 If we don't get dumped on, I may attempt the Legolas on Thursday  Then we'll see how much of the slowness I can blame on the bike.
These pictures remind me of Fargo. The movie.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


This is my campus bike now. Liza works a block from the Centennial Trail, so she  has my original campus bike at her office for lunchtime stolls.
Astute readers will recognize this ugly mutha as the one and only, Shogun. It just keeps on giving. The rear rim is splitting/cracked, so to keep the brakes from aggravatin' the situation, I'm running the bike in fixed mode.

Birds of prey. Praying.

More coal going to China.
Anderson Road.

Marshall Creek.
Marshall Road.

FLT at Marshall Road.
Not ridable by me.

The intent here was to capture the oppressive monochromatic turd of winterness by juxtaposing a b-slap of redness. Didn't work. And of course that's the camera's fault. 

See that hard plastic blade on the thumb of my glove?
That is friggin the stupidist glove feature ever.
Here's the scenario: cold, frozen, drippy nose. Wipe said nose violently with your thumb, as you are wont to do.
That smarts.


"This is what my girlfriend would look like without skin."

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Commuting again

I can't believe it's been a month since I commuted for real, but thems the facts. I think the longest ride I've been on in the last month was a 12 mile trail ride.

The combination of snow and routing has kept my daily commute restricted to the 5 or so mile-roundtrip between our house and the bus stop. Luckily, there's about 400 feet of climbing on the way home, so I've not completely atrophied, but I'm feeling pretty turdy.

My winter strategy in routing a way home from Cheney is to find the right balance between low-traffic roads and distance. If the Fish Lake Trail was plowed, I'd be on it, but it's under about 18" of snow at the moment, and even with a fat bike, it would be a sucky slog.
That would be the FLT down there. If I was super awesome, I'd x-country ski my way home.

Since the bus route from Cheney to Spokane is mostly on I-90, there's no reasonable route that allows the bus-bailout option. I guess a guy could take some back roads into Medical Lake then board from there, but that's a long way out of the way if you don't want to bail.

So my route favors wide, plowed, slow/low-traffic gravel roads. I do spend a bit of time on Washington Road and Gardner Road, which can have a bit of traffic, but since I'm able to leave Cheney at about 11 AM on Tuesdays and Thursdays, there's not much traffic on these roads.

The Rawland is rocking it. Conditions today were packed snow with sections of non-packed, shifty snow. The fat knob tires on the Rawland were just perfect. Although there are ice patches mixed with snow, studs really don't provide enough benefit to warrant their sloggy weighty turdiness for this kind of riding. I figure my  winter route, which  plan on taking every Tues/Thurs this quarter, is about 25 miles. I'll track it on Thursday.

Going with platform pedals on the Rawland. I'm very happy with this set up. These are your basic Gortex lined leather  boots. All in all: a fantastic set up. No cold toes and I can wear these boots in my daily life. 
The effect that snow has on the audibility of car traffic is real. What we hear when we hear cars behind us are mostly the tires on the roadway. When the road is covered with snow, cars are mostly silent. So, I don't even listen to podcasts this time of year as I ride. And that is a wonderful thing that I need to remember all year round: having time to collect, sort, categorize, and formulate thoughts is one of the great gifts that a commute like this gives out for free.

I don't clean off my bike when I'm done with this kind of riding. It sits in the garage, which is about 45 F for Tiger the Killer Cat. So all this crud melts off. The extent of my maintenance is to check the the chain length once a month or so and to put some Boeshield on it when it starts to squeak or turn orange. 

Madde. Drinking hot chocolate under the Canon Hill Park bridge. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Full coverage

Speaking of beers: has any sour-lover tried this one?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Much snow

Riding down to the bus stop this morning was more like sledding than biking. I should've taken a picture: super fluffy new tall snow -- about 5 inches.

The Rawland, once again, is proving to be a solid snow bike.

Under the freeway, there was a huge line of people waiting to take the bus (I heard later over the bus driver's radio that it was 350 people). I was able to ride down to the stop in between downtown and the park-n-ride and get a standing-room only spot.

The bus ride, which normally takes about 20 minutes, took us an hour.

It looks like rain slushy crappy nasty tomorrow. It would be nice to have full fenders on this bike for that.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Thinking about the mountain bike

Liza's righteous truck just got a lumber rack. which will become a light camper. More on that later.

I think of all the riding I did in 2012, I enjoyed mountain biking the most. Specifically, I enjoyed spending more time than ever at Riverside State Park. I like the option of riding for hours on mostly flat single track out there. I still am sort of lost most of the time out there, but I am much better now at knowing generally where I'm at in relation to the 7 Mile Airstrip and the Bowl and Pitcher.

But the mountain bike ride that keeps knocking around in my memory is a half day ride that Glen and I took on the Kettle Crest Trail in July. I posted a couple pictures in passing, but I didn't write about it. We rode just a tiny segment from Boulder to Taylor Ridge and popped out on South Boulder. But the bit we rode was everything I want as I think about mountain biking next year: it's long and it's difficult; there's tons of climbing; there's shade and open spots with great views; there's technical bits and flowy bits; there's multiple opportunities for camping; there's no one up there.
Kettle Crest Trail -- From our quick June recon ride.
How perfect is that?

I've talked to the hangers about doing a mountain bike road trip, but maybe the answer is a couple long days on the KCT instead. I'm not sure.

But the more I ride my mountain bike, the more I love it. I'm in the dying breed of those who still love 26" hard tails. It climbs like crazy and is super nimble and maneuverable. I like 29ers and I like 650b; and if I had a cool $3k laying around I'd be all over a full-sus Pat bike. But for cross-country, all day single-track fun, I can't get over how much I dig my mountain bike.

I like these tires. I'm leaving them on year-round: Maxxis Ignitor -- the XC option, which are pricey but they're super soft and supple and full of grippy knobs.
Deore triple crank with those funny outboard bearings: cheap and effective so far.
SLX rear derailleur. Deore would work just as well I bet.
The components that make this bike super fun for me are the ones that I resisted for the longest time: the suspension forks, the modern index mountain shifting and crank set (it's still 8-speed, so if that's "modern" in my book, imagine what I was doing before), and disc brakes.

All that said, of course there are things I want to change. Just a couple minor bits to dial in. For Christmas, Glen gave me the bitchin' SLX hydro brake upgrade. These are great brakes. That was the "must have" item on my list.

Super brakes. Right shifter is an 8-speed LX that works like a charm. Right is a modern SLX triple. I'm always amazed when I can shift to the tiny ring under load. No thought required. I used to mistake thought with skill. Now I don't think it's that simple. 

The other list items are nice-to-have, but I think I'll be selling stuff (anyone want to buy a fancy BMX race bike?) to make these niceties a reality.

  • Minor'est changes are to put my Thudbuster on there and put a plastic/non-Brooks back on. 
  • Wheels: these will fail at the hub at some point I think. The discs are attached in a non-compliant/ham-fisted way. The hubs are not-centerlock, but they have an adapter to make the 6-bolt rotors work with whatever they are. Basically: they're just weird and I don't like them.
  • Frame: I want a shorter rear triangle and a longer top tube. I think having a tiny stem (while still be stretched out) is the answer to single track fun. I might want a bit more slackness in the front end. And I want white.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Snow commuter

This bike never disappoints. I'm hoping the Rawland will take care of me for back road commutes home during the upcoming Winter quarter.