Sunday, September 29, 2013

Some SOS pics

More remote art.

It can be too easy to ride by these kinds of views without looking. This is a great time of year for color.

After a bit of rain the river trail is in great shape. 

I love this bike. I need to spray it down.

Tony. He's showed up for 3 or 4 weeks now. He's pretty new to trail riding and crashes sort of frequently. That's a good sign in my opinion.  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

First *official* commute of the school year

Today was the first day of classes at EWU. The commute was sound. I'm really trying to keep my clothes changes down to a minimum. I change my shirt so I don't totally rot out my nice shirts, but otherwise, I stay in my shoes (which are normal looking SPDs) and I can ride in the pants I wear at work/school, which are either Carhartts (with monster thighs) or nerdy stretchy technical, but nice-looking trousers. 

I'm rocking the tie this year too. After working in software for about 15 years, where I pretty much only wore shorts and a tshirt, last year was a hard transition to find pants/nice shirts that worked for actually moving around in. Ugh. But I got it dialed last year and now it's tie time, which was fun. Liza found some pretty rad ties at garage sales and thrift stores. My plan is to make a point of clashing (especially around patterns) -- since I think that a good clash makes for an interesting visual story. Maybe I'll start a fashion blog too...

Glen put some of the new decals on the v2. I dig em.

I went to campus on Monday to prep and rode the v2 Elephant -- made my best time yet: 1:05 from door-to-door. I took a bunch of trails today, so I was more in the 1:20 range, but I think I'll try to break the 1 hour barrier on Friday.

Meanwhile, on the running front... it's hard to take pics with a phone while running. But more importantly, I'm digging it (running, not attempting photos) more and more. I'm running three times a week for about 40 minutes each run. 

I keep putting off a review of this jacket. It's the Patagonia Houdini and I've really found it perfect for early morning runs and edge-weather commutes. I just made that term up, but the "edge" I'm talking about is the cold/chilly transition times between seasons.  It was like 40F on the way into school today and a bit breezy on the way home too.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Good potential

This would be a great river bike for the kids. It's in an alley. By the trash cans. I may go knock on that door.

SOS ride pics

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The tale of a deprecated backpack, or My final year with the REI Flash UL

I think I got this pack in about 2008. In 2010, I added the reflecto stripes and the pockets. It's pretty much the perfect pack to take when you really don't want to take a pack. OR for mountain biking: it's got a bladder holder stitched in and it's perfect size for long day rides.

It's got all those little mountain climbing loopy loops all over it, so it's very handy if you are a carabiner carrier, which I am. In fact, I used this pack as a harness for pulling Liza and Maddie on the kicksled. Good set up.

It's small enough to just have crammed into a bigger pack or bag for "just-in-case" scenarios. The small/lightness of it combined with its useful, well-designed features is what makes this such a great pack.

As is the case with a lot of great gear (MT-60s, XT hubs, original Ibex Breakaway, and a bunch of other stuff that is not coming to my brain right now...ah! Gortex mitten shells!), this pack doesn't exist in this form anymore. It's been complicated with heavier materials, zippers, pockets, and other features. In fact the "UL" (ultralight) version of the Flash pack doesn't even exist anymore. And that's a damn shame, cause I'd love to see the UL sold as I have it here: with the pockets (tilted for optimal on-bike access) and reflection.

All this crap fit in there...
My bag has developed a couple holes and has started its slow slide towards death. I could try and patch and fix -- and I probably will, unless a suitable replacement emerges -- but once that nylon-y fabric starts fading away, it can be hard to stitch up...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The tale of a broken spoke, or How FiberFix, and the Mavic + Ultegra wheel rule

Two years ago this month, I bought Rory's Legolas. I also bought a new rear wheel for it. You can see the 2-year-old versions of the bike and wheel here. The wheel was a J&B deal: Mavic Open Pro laced to an Ultegra hub with butted DT spokes -- 32 hole. That's a sensible wheel and it's a great deal. Google shows these wheelsets all over the internet for super reasonable prices.

If a customer doesn't go with a custom Matt wheel, then Glen typically puts this wheelset on a lot of his Elephant bikes. It's a good wheelset, already!

Anyway -- I abuse the shit out of that poor Legolas. And I ride it a ton. I've been in and around 200 lbs for the last couple years and I don't ride lightly. The Legolas's main job in life is to get me around the High Drive trails or other local trails; its secondary job is to get me to those trails. It's a rough life. While the trails I ride on the Legolas are not super droppy-downhilly, they are technical, rocky, rooty, sandy, and steep. My point here is that this wheel has done hard time over the last two years.

So, when I heard the tell tale tink tink tink of a broken spoke today -- after hammering down the bluff trails to Sandifur -- I wasn't super surprised. The broken spoke was on the non-drive side, so the wheel didn't even wobble. In fact, it was amazingly true for a wheel with a broken spoke.

Given the lack of wobble, on the way home I decided that I'd fix the broken spoke with a FiberFix spoke. I've carried a FiberFix in my tool kits for at least 6 years and I've never used one. They've always looked sort of complicated and intimidating all wrapped up in their little plastic tube. So I figured hacking through the process in the comfort and safety of my garage would be good practice should I ever need to actually deal with one in the wild.

The FiberFix process was trivial. TRIVIAL. It took about five minutes and would've taken the same amount of time out in the dirt. The directions are excellent. I can't believe how easy it was.

If you don't have a FiberFix spoke in your stuff you should get one. Because now that you've read this, and therefore armed with this knowledge --  if you ever have to call in for a ride due to a broken spoke, you suck. They're like $6. And I got nothing going here as I shill these things -- they just rule.

Oh. And they're reusable. Crazy.

I'm going to ride that wheel until another spoke breaks or until the FiberFix fails. If another spoke breaks, I think I'll replace that one with a FiberFix too.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Two years later: Review of Pearl Izumi X-Alp Seek -- there's some love here...

A couple years ago, I got a pair of Pearl Izumi X-Alp Seek shoes to review. I published a quick review of these shoes in an article in Out There Monthly in Sept 2011.

I'm always on the lookout for normal looking SPD shoes. I've reviewed the Chrome Kursk (look great, fit kind of weird -- the heel likes to slide out), the Keen Austin (excellent daily driver for crap weather, but I'm not crazy about the style -- apparently, these are discontinued, which is a shame), the Shimano MT-60 (best Gortex all-rounder for sure) and the DZR sneakers (my favorite "normal looking" SPD so far).

These Pearl Izumi's are more running shoe in their styling than I prefer, so I was never that crazy about them from an aesthetic point of view.  But... over the last couple years, I've found myself grabbing these shoes for my all-purpose recreational riding shoes. When I go to the river, these are the shoes I bring. When I go on the SOS ride, these are the shoes I have on. They've sort of wormed their way into my heart the way our Subaru has -- there was really no love to start with, no spark -- but over time the reliability, comfort, and the understated performance that just works have made these daily drivers.

After two years, these shoes are showing some wear, but I'm thinking I have another year or so in them. There are no pending catastrophic failures forming around the soles and all the stitching looks good.

As for features, they've got some water-resistant stuff going on that makes them as good as any ankle-height shoe for water events. I don't wear them in the cold winter like I do with the MT-60's, but for the other three-seasons, they're good. There's some reflect stuff going on that makes them useful for commuting.

My favorite feature is the lace-holder: there's a little pocket on the tongue that you cram the laces into. You can see the red pouch in the first image above -- the top shoe still has the laces tucked into the pouch. I don't like straps/Velcro, so laces are good -- and having a good holding solution is a smart move. This solution is the best I've seen.

So, while I feel no lust for these shoes, I certainly do feel some love for them. Given how well-built and designed these shoes are, I wish that Pearl Izumi could direct some of their SPD attention to a more "casual" styling.

Monday, September 16, 2013

High Drive/Bluff trails Tuscan Ridge development

I remember the"Tuscan Ridge" development thing popping up a couple years ago. The idea is to cram 100 condos on the High Drive trails below 57th and Hatch. See red triangle below:

Click for big.

This development would clobber the trails that connect the core High Drive trails to 57th and to the lower set of trails by the other developments. One of my bread-and-butter loops (Corvair section from middle trail) would be destroyed by this development. As well, it would screw up the routing for the Black Friday ride. But perhaps most offensively, is the fact that it's called "Tuscan Ridge." Any design that includes the label, "Tuscan," is bound to be awful: so in addition to blocking off critical trail connectivity, this project would do so with the painfully exurban mono-styling we expect to be assaulted with as we travel to the edge the city limits... but dropped in the middle of the HD trails?

That just destroys connectivity.

So apparently, there's an option for Conservation Futures to buy this land. The Friends of the Bluff group has prepared a slide deck (pdf here) that nominates this land as a potential target for Conservation Futures funds. The deck describes why this property is appropriate for a Conservation Futures purchase -- and is worth a read.

Apparently the Conservation Futures process includes scoring each nominated property. One element of scoring is public support -- so, the more public support a given property has, the better its score.

So: if you ride these trails, or you are just offended by "Tuscan" design in suburban sprawl, or both, or something else: then write a friggin letter of support!  (Actually, griping about the Tuscan design would probably not be a rhetorically effective bit of persuasion -- stick to the trail connectivity, natrual issues, and wildlife concerns...) Send letters of support to by September 24. More info on FB page here.

The High Drive trails are an amazing urban trail resource and should not be messed with! I've carried on verily on this blog with HD trail posts. I even have a label. Dig it.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Wheel build, interupted

The Deep V on the Shogun finally gave up the ghost after many years of faithful service. After a bunch of procrastination, I finally got a new rim ordered and some spokes and set down to build up the new wheel today.

First step: get the hub out of the old wheel. Liza serenades while sipping a bourbon -- this makes the tedious job of de-spoking a Deep V much better. She's singing "Tonight You Belong to Me."

Second step: lace it up. Doh! It's a 32 hole hub. That would be a 36 hole rim. Dammit. Thankfully, one of Liza's best tunes is "Always Look at the Bright Side of Life."

Monday, September 9, 2013

Another post about running. Sorry.

For those of you waiting with bated breath... I had a minor running break-through yesterday with Mr. Bloom.

It was this: we ran for over a half-hour. And I ran through some knee stuff that's been wigging me out and it all worked and my brain complied.

That's it.

In other news, someone has named a bit of the River Trail.

Lucy's Trail

This is right after the Mega-Church section of the trail (heading north). It would be cool to see the Mega-Church section signed too. In fact, it would be cool to see all the trails signed like this.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Running mind games and other random stuff

Running is a total mind game for me right now. It's not physically that difficult to go and run a few miles, but mentally it's ridiculous. I need a break-through. I need to run more and farther and get through this crappy funk.

I want to try that beer in the picture above. It's like $25, so I'm hesitant. Some sours are too sweet/fruity for me. The Bruery is reputed as a solid brewery... and the description on their page is intriguing.

Glen did a small batch of bikes with unicrown forks. These are sweet forks. These photos are before the disc tabs went on them.

Praying mantis on my tent a week or so ago... giving thanks, no doubt. I'm wondering if that guy was attracted to the tent because of the similar color?

Liza is carrying her famous rhubarb pie here, but I like this photo for the color of the bike, which looks like goldenrod - one of my favorite colors). In real life, the color is yellow-er and less rich.

First day of 5th grade. Our buddy Theo started kindergarten.

Maddie and I made this bitchin' bundt cake a few weeks ago. It's chocolate zucchini with a triple-sec icing. It was my Grandma's recipe -- she had it at some high-zoot restaurant in D.C. back in the '70s and spent a year reverse-engineering the recipe. It's an excellent way to burn through some zucchini. At some point, I'll put it on my mostly-dead food blog.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Is two a "trend?"

This is the second Panaracer Pasala that has blown out a sidewall on me in the last few months.

The first one happened as I was riding. This one happened as I blew it up after mounting it. Judging by the monster hole in the tube, it looks as though I caught the edge of the tube between the rim and bead.

These are the cheapest Pasalas out there, so I'm not too crazy with angst, and pilot error is clearly the core issue here, but should that sidewall just rip out like that? I've never had other tires do that, and given the large number of flats I repair in a year, I end up pinching a tube between the tire/rim every now and then.

Whatever. I just put in an order for some Maxxis commuter tires. Well officially, it's a "training" tire, but it's a mostly-slick 28mm with a bit of puncture protection. I've become a Maxxis fan. I dig the Locusts for all-rounder trail/CX tires, the MaxLites for single-speed city cruising and Maddie-bike applications, the Aspen for dry trails, and the Ignitor for most mountain biking. Anyway, these new ones, the "Re-fuse" tires, will live on my 747 in fender-commuter mode. I'll report back on how they do.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Snyder Bike Hang: September 12

Rocking the Rawland in Ferry County
Buddy Jon is running for re-election for District 2 City Council. He's up against an old-school conservative guy with good name recognition. Given the balance of power across the Mayor's office and the Council, this year's race is particularly important -- it's critical that Jon holds his seat and the Council can have a 4-person progressive vote.

So, to this end, Liza, Maddie, and I are hosting a house party/bike hang at our house on Sept 12.

The goal is to raise some money for Jon and give folks an opportunity to meet and talk to Jon. If you are a bikey person in Spokane, I encourage you to come by and have a listen. If you like what you hear, consider donating a few bucks to Jon's campaign.

No one (except the deep pockets that own this racket) like the $ part of campaigning. In fact, it seems that reasonable, decent people are generally disgusted by the whole thing. If you're one of those, I'm with you, but until that system changes, it's the system we must operate under.

Racing the Twilight Criterium
In any case, Jon is the kind of politician we want in Spokane: he's smart, progressive, an excellent listener, and a super hard worker. This is all true. I shared an office with Jon for over three years and I got to know Jon as well as I know anyone. He's quick to consider alternative opinions and always down for an adventure.

We've been on a number of rides together. One of my favorite day rides ever was with Jon and Patrick in the Colville Nat'l Forest. Jon is a daily (yes, even in the winter) bike commuter. You can read more about his daily riding and his commuter bike here (pdf). I tell you this because many politicians give lip service to "being green" or "alternative transportation," but Jon lives it daily. When he argues for transportation alternatives, he does so with deep policy knowledge, but also from a perspective of first-hand experience of what it means to be a cyclist, pedestrian, and transit rider.
Posing with daily driver: Kogswell 

While the alternative transportation stuff means a lot to me -- and I believe cities that include policy and infrastructure for "active transportation" are just better cities to be in -- Jon is not a one-trick pony. You can see some of the stuff Jon's done in his last 3.5 years on the council here and here.

Bike Hang Deets

  • When: Sept 12, 6:30 PM.
  • Where: Our house. If you don't know where that is, send me an email. john at phred dot org.
  • Food: we'll have our standard "feed a big crowd" pile of pinto beans, pork, salsa, chips.
  • Beer: River City Brewing Girlfriend Golden Ale.
  • Glen, from Elephant Bikes, and Matt, from Matthew Larson Wheelbuilding, will be here with some examples of their work. These can be hard guys to pin down outside of their shop or at races -- so if you're never in either of those places AND you want to chat with these guys, come by and interrogate them.
  • RSVP: that would be ideal, but don't let a lack of protocol stop you from dropping in. 
Trail-riding on the Kogswell. With a broken spoke.