Thursday, October 31, 2013

Truth in advertising

The first time I scanned this ad, I read the model name as "Trek Finally."

Headwind happiness

This is how real men suffer

Monday, October 28, 2013

Some cheese with that whine?

Whiny beeotch warning. Stop here if you want happy fun time.

Lame rides happen. My commute home from school today sucked. And it's a long commute. So as it sucked from the start, I had 20 miles to ponder why it sucked. Which, of course, doesn't really help to improve a sucky ride. But whatever.

Here's a stack-ranked list of why it sucked:

1. I was tired. I slept like crap last night. So that makes me tired and grumpy.

2. There was a monster, MONSTER headwind today. Dig it:

3) OMG -- look at all the crap on the back of this bike:

It's hard to appreciate from this picture how turdy and heavy that is. In the yellow bag are papers, books, clothes and a U-lock. In the saddle bag thing are tools, another lock, and other stuff that isn't really heavy, but still. God. Too much on the bike. And recall: the old Rawland is mid-trail, which makes rear loads just turd the bike into a turdy oblivion of crap handling and heavy-feeling sluggery.

Click for big to view hackery
It's made worse by the hackery I have to go through to push the rack further back behind the axle so the rack doesn't get all jammed up on disc brake. Which brings me to...

4) Cable disc brakes are a waste of time, space, and money. Sorry: but they suck. I've set these up per the Avid BB7-Road specs. I've tried normal pads, sintered pads, "organic" pads (whatever the f that means), and they just suck.

So for once: I had the proper tires at the right pressure to go bombing around the trails off the FLT and the ridiculous brakes just make me grumpier. Go hydro or go good canti's or go home. Well, I guess you can go good caliper-brakes too -- but that's a different use case, so you can go home too. Screw v-brakes too.

For the record, I really want to try the TRP HY-RD brakes on this bike. The TRP brakes use a cable to actuate a hydro unit at the brake. Duh. How simple/smart is that? Kent turned me on to it. Sign me the f up.

5) New music. I'm an annoyingly stubborn creature of strict, near-obsessive routine when it comes to what I listen to when I ride. It's about 85% Bad Religion, 5% This American Life, 3% Bjork, 3% Wayne Krantz, 1% Beastie Boys, ~3% other stuff. Today, I loaded up a chunk of new music and with a full nights sleep, tailwind, good load distribution, and decent brakes, I probably would've loved the music. But in this context, it bugged me.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

4th annual Black Friday ride

This is a fun ride.

You can see carryings on about past BF rides here.

The basic deal is that it's a trail ride on Black Friday. Unless it snows like a mutha as it did on year one; then it's not a trail ride. 

A little dusting is ok. Rain is fine too.

Anyway, the ride is a fairly brisk pace and sort of technical. Here's my canonical BF ride description and disclaimer post. Please read it if you've not ridden a BF ride before and plan on showing up.

Here's the plan this year:
  • Leave The Scoop at 8:30 am. For planning purposes: I wouldn't assume that The Scoop is open.
  • Same route: the first part of The NW Passage.
  • Much better ending plan this year: we're landing at River City Brewing's new brew pub down on 1st and Cedar. Gage says it will be done. Or close enough for us. Goal is to get there at around 11:30.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Buddy Travis is borrowing the Elephant for while.
At least *someone* is putting that lasher rack to good use.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Review: Patagonia Houdini

patagonia houdini for bike riding

The folks at Patagonia sent me this jacket to review over a year ago. It's called the Houdini (Get it? I think because it "disappears" into such a small package -- see final picture in this post). It MSRPs for $100.

My original plan was to use it for a cold-descender: a tiny jacket I could keep in my pack for cold descents. Often in summer mountain biking you work yourself to a sweaty heap on the way up, only to freeze your ass off on the way down. This is especially cold and miserable when you are in the 4000+  foot range, as much of my Colville Nat'l Forest playground is.  I've always packed the O2 jacket for this kind of scenario -- the O2 is great because it really does somehow breathe, and it's pretty good at keeping the big rain out, but it's so fragile, and that drives me nuts. (A bit more on the O2 in this Verita review.)

So the goal was to get the Houdini as a replacement for the O2. Turns out: I didn't do a lot of cold mountain descents this summer.

patagonia houdini for bike riding

But I did do a lot of cold-weather descents to the bus stop this past year. Slipping this on over a my basic button-down shirt has been a life-saver many a crisp morning.

And having this little gem in my commute pack has saved me a number of times on my commute home-- especially during the kind-of-cold, but not-cold-enough to have a proper coat weather: late fall/early spring.

The other place it's worked well is for my early morning runs. In fact -- it's been an unexpected champ in this scenario. At about 6 AM, it's been low-40's for the last month or so. The Houdini over a light-weight, long-sleeve wool shirt has been a great combo. The Houdini is that perfect wafer-thin poly plastic thing that holds the heat in until I get too steamy. Once I really start sweating, I can zip down a bit to throw some heat off. It's so good, buddy Bill got one and he's swearing by it. And buddy Bill is no trend chaser.

patagonia houdini for bike riding

So it's not waterproof. According to the copy on the Patagonia site, the Houdini is treated with some DWR, so it does bead water adequately. I've been caught once in a downpour and it's no better or worse than the O2, which may do a better job of keeping big water off, but steams you out eventually. I still hold to the belief that if you are working hard in the rain -- regardless of gear -- you're gonna be wet one way or another, so I don't see the Houdini as a rain jacket.

With the hood and its basic heat-trapping ability, coupled with it's ridiculous light-weight, tiny portability, I see the Houdini as an excellent bit of insurance to carry always. As for the hood, it has a little shock cord locker on it that is a great feature: since the hood is big enough to fit over a helmet, the shock cord locker is how you keep the hood snug on your head when running into a wind.

rear view patagonia houdini for bike riding

There's a bit of reflective action on the breast where the logo is printed with reflective tape. I'd prefer some reflection on the back. Technically-speaking, there is a little reflective logo between the shoulder blades, but you must be wearing the hood to expose it. And while I'm adding features, I'd dig a small zipped pocket in the back, but I don't think I'd want to give up more packability for that, so that would be a nice-to-have.

patagonia houdini for bike riding packed size
Hard to beat that packability portability tiny-ability. No reason not to have it with you.

All-in-all: yes. This is an excellent little shell that I plan on having in my pack (commute, mountain bike, day-trip, etc) for as long as it holds up.  I'll follow up with a report when it starts to give up the ghost.

Winter route

I have a long-way-home route that -- until today -- I have only taken when it's snowy or slick. It optimizes roads that are plowed, but that are also very low traffic.

On a beautiful fall day like today, it makes for a great long way home. I took nearly two hours. Normally, I've been doing my commute in about 1:05.

Anderson Road

That little trail off of Marshall Road -- across from cemetery

 If that's not a great commute trail, I don't know what is.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

For Pat Rick

Click for big. There's an eagle in thar trees...

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Top trail

Spontaneous trail ride resulted in a first this morning: Maddie cleaned the top trail. We've been ridden the tippy-top trail a number of times, but never the top trail. 

The top trail is pretty hard -- the dropoff is distracting, much of the trail is off-camber, and the dirt is pretty wash-outty at spots. 

Maddie kept her cool, took it at a reasonable speed, and enjoyed it. I just put a sock in it: the best approach. Though I did mention keeping her weight back as we descended.

Also: it turns out that the helmet IS cool. When Maddie went to school with a boring normal helmet, many of her classmates were disappointed and asked where the "sno cone" helmet was... 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Heavy ordnance

Your basic staple.

The picturesque Cheney-Spokane Road, for fast commutes.
Two people stopped and offered help: one kitted road cyclist and one hunter-looking, camo'd-truck dude.
If that's not a great spread, I don't know what is.
I dig this neighborhood.
I've had worse.
But only once.
At least it didn't go through the rim.

Roofing staple?

Maddie grew the one she's holding. 

Liza's second bike: Worksman folder

Smiling Liza
Dig the new neighborhood commuter: it's a Worksman folder from P2PA couple years ago we got rid of the Raleigh 20. Apparently, Liza has missed the little bike for short hauls.

As for the helmet, the careful reader will recognize this as the custom-painted Maddie Nutcase. As it turns out, NO ONE AT SCHOOL wears helmets like that. So Liza and Maddie are trading.

Of course, Liza would prefer the original, non-custom paint job.

The bottom line though here is that Liza has two bikes again and that's a good thing. Another one we shouldn't have gotten rid of was her fast bike...

She's elusive. Hard to capture on film.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Gonna talk about running


And without pictures.

Running on trails in the dark is sort of mentally taxing.

I've been learning how to run from a barefoot book (more on that later), not really with the intention of running barefoot, but instead, with a goal of figuring out how to run so I enjoy it. The first "aha moment" is bent knees. But that super simple concept is a hard thing to translate to a learned, physical, muscle-memory thing. So the second "aha moment"came last week, as I recalled a passage in the book about thinking of your thighs like giant springs. For some reason, on about 33rd and Division at about 5:45 am on a random Tuesday morning, the spring-thing hit me like a ton of bricks and made the mental game much much easier.

Since then, I've had a handful of moments/experiences where I forget myself as I run: I relax, my breathing is just working, my pace is perfect, and I feel like I could run forever. It's a fine feeling.

So -- running on trails in the dark kind of gets in the way of that. To avoid stumbling and tripping, you've got to focus a lot of mental energy on the trail and where your feet are going to land. As the mornings get darker and darker, the tunnel of bouncing light you are chasing gets more intense and surreal and more mental energy goes into finding the right line.

So just as I hit my state of running nirvana this morning, I also relaxed my trail-watching and stumbled -- nearly tripping. This jammed me up. I couldn't get it back. I got tired and wanted to be done.

I love running on the trails, but I'm wondering if I need to wait until I can find, maintain, and re-capture that nirvana state more effortlessly... Or run in the afternoon where the dark isn't getting in the way. Or just evolve slowly and steadily to handle the dark trails...

Friday, October 4, 2013

Riding to school

 We live 5 blocks from Maddie's school, so she never rides. But it's bike safety day in PE today so she's rolling the Smoke... as it were.