Monday, March 31, 2014

Early dismissal

It's conference week at Maddie's school, so she gets out at 1:00 every day. 

We went up to Palisades to tool around on the trails today. Our plan was Riverside State Park, which I think we'll stick to next time. 

She also explored stuff. Watching her flit along the edge of the cliff here made my heart jump a couple times, but I played it cool. I kept reminding myself that she's always had the stability of a mountain goat.

The trails at Palisades are not technical at all, but there a few muddy boggy spots, some rocks and roots, and the occasional deep narrow section. She's much more comfortable rolling through this kind of stuff this year. 

The horses were not interested in Maddie whatsoever. No love.

I should've taken a picture of some of the muddy sections. The Pugsley rocks that stuff. I took it slow in a low gear, sank into the mud, and just grinded it out. 

This kid. I dig her. She told me all sorts of good stuff as we tooled around the park. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Orcas mnt biking

This was the 2nd Annual Orcas Island Spring Break Mountain Bike Hang. Here's last year's roll up. We lost Rory this year to illness. But we gained Pat and Betsy.

These trips are never what you picture them to be. Planning and fussing for weeks ahead of time, you get this idea in your head of how it will be. In my experience, if you're with cool people,  it's always a great time -- even if it's not what you think it was gonna be. The rain got us. And Betsy had a bad fall that resulted in a trip to the minor emergency center. Neither of these events took us out, but they changed the experience in a fortunate way: we bailed from our camping site (with dignity) a day early to spend the final night at the Rosario Resort, where the beer did flow and the oystered did be shucked... or whatever. It was good.

We found an insanely wonderful way down Mt. Constitution. The trail is switch back nirvana with deep green forest. All down with lots of interesting little technical features: rocks, roots, slick, roll outs, etc... So much fun. This was also the trail where Betsy shanked her ankle -- she ended up spraining it really bad. I should've taken a shot: pretty gruesome. She was able to ride down on it, but as soon as she sat down and rested, her foot exploded into a puffed up painful thing. But the trail was rad. And for sure something to plan the next trip around... by shuttling to the top, a gang of four could get in three rides each in a half a day.

This picture doesn't capture the greatness of this section of trail. This was along the SW corner of Cascade Lake. The trail was super fun and tricky -- it reminded me of the Mega Church section of the River Trail, but way longer. Great stuff.
Pat. Ripping it down the switch backs.
Note the tarp solution. This is all Alex. This was the second, improved deployment of the tarp: optimized for precision location draining and  guyed out to avoid tripping and clotheslining the campers. Sailing has added to Alex's already vast practical skills by piling on a bunch of knots and various styles and lengths of rope.

A dam. My bike.
Pat? Alex?
Alex planned on stealing oil from his Rohloff to lube the quick release cam on Betsy's borrowed bike, but it turned out the hub was dry. He ended up finding a wad of grease on his seat post.
Homebound. It's a long haul from Spokane to Orcas Island, around 10 hours. Ideally: we'd spend three solid days riding for this kind of transport stage, but you take what you can get and when the company is good, it's for sure worth it.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Trail riding with Maddie

Good eye! Why yes, Maddie has a new stem/bar.  Glen took care of her... here's the before pic.
That is a good looking fit. Geoff? What say you? No more threats of CPS intervention?
Maddie and I have ridden the HD trails the last couple days. Yesterday, she did the middle trail for the first time. It was a bit sketchy here and there, but she enjoyed and she hammered it up the hill on the way home. All  in good spirits too.

Today, after school, we did the tippy-top trail, then looped back on the top trail from the top and popped out at 25th.

This is a picture of me going over my bars as I attempted to take a picture of Maddie. I was on the Kogswell, which already has a fairly low bottom bracket (well, compared to a mountain bike), but was further lowered by putting 559's on it instead of the 584's it was designed for. Then of course I have monster plastic platform pedals on it. The point here is obvious: this is a pedal-striking machine. And not paying attention helps too.

Maddie says she wants to do a "30-day challenge" in April and ride trails every day of the month.
Suits me.

The HD trails are great at teaching you the "you ride where you look" lesson. 

I think we'll be going out to Riverside State Park soon. And I think I may put some tires on her bike with a bit more knobbieness... if she wants to do more trails, it would be good for her to have a bit more bite.

The bars and stem. Thanks Glen.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

some stuff

I think we need a longer stem on this bike. This picture doesn't illustrate the need for it. I think we have one more season on this frame. 

The river is wonderfully high right now. I've got the old mountain bike rev'd up. I took it out a couple times this weekend. If all goes as planned, this bike will be swapped out for a new Elephant hardtail 650b mountain bike this spring.

This is a great bike. I'll be taking it to Orcas in about a week and a half for a few days of single track funnery with some friends. It's the next year's version of this ride

First SOS ride of the season happened this morning. Rough stuff. We're all wheezy and shakey and weird. But I love this ride -- we came home through the park to check out the flow, which did not disappoint.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Some tortured thoughts on fittting and fit systems

this post has been sitting in my drafts folder for a couple months. i'm not sure why i never hit "publish". this is deep stuff! fit for Hank's blog, by gum .


A few days ago, I hung out with a guy who is thinking of opening a bike shop in Spokane. He made a comment that was something like, "I plan on offering a proper fit system, since none of the shops in town do it right."

Out of context, this quote sounds crass and thoughtless, and it's really not. The guy was a nice dude and had very specific ideas of what he needed in a fit system. His opinion was informed by his experience as a fairly accomplished amateur racer, years of performance-oriented riding, and his background in a technical vocation.  

In my experience, if you talk to shop owners about fit, then you'll often hear a version of the same basic sentiment: we do it right, other shops don't get it. Not all shop owners dismiss other fit systems explicitly, but they all insist that their person and/or system and/or philosophy is the best.

That's the funny thing to me about the whole fit system thing. From the outside looking it, the Fit Discussion strikes me more as a religious argument -- as many bikey subjects tend to fall -- more than one guided by a skeptical inquiry towards problem solving and acknowledgement (if not mutual respect) of the goals shared by various Fit System sects. 

Perhaps such a goal is too lofty for any bike-related discussion. Spend any time in an online bike forum or discussing technical matters with a group of cyclists and you'll encounter a domain where arguments are often framed in earnest, technical-sounding jargon, but fundamentally supported by mythology and anecdotal experience. And almost always driven home by referring to some hero-worship pro endorsement.

Because, on the surface, our culture seems to value evidence that is based on science: the authoritative arbiter of Truth. But in reality, I believe we're all animals that act almost entirely on emotions first, then rationalize those primal emotional attachments with our big fat brains, conjuring up all sorts of empirically-armored logic to defend our actions.

I feel like an outsider to the Fit Discussion since I've never taken much stock in it. In my opinion, (which of course is also informed by my emotional attachments to prejudice, ignorance, cynicism, and anecdotal experience), the pro fit thing to me is akin to selling and buying the high zoot, ultra light-weight, expensive gear: it probably can't hurt, but for me, if I want to improve performance, it starts by loosing a shit ton of weight and doing a lot fast riding up steep hills. 

I maintain that taking such an approach to potential fit issues would fix the glitch. My take is that if you ride a bunch and you ride a bunch of different bikes, then you can listen to what your body tells you about fit and performance. Sometimes your body gives directives in the language of pain. Achilles hurt? Maybe the saddle is too high. Wrists/shoulders hurting? You're likely too stretched out. Knees tightening and stiff? Check that the saddle isn't too low. Lower back? Maybe you need to slide the saddle back a bit.

Over the years I've sort of figured out the basics of what I like fit-wise. It's taken me forever. Go find a picture of my bikes from 5+ years ago on this blog and you'll notice the saddle was always pointed up. That had to do with reach and saddle height.

This illustrates how my fit system would work better for a more methodical person. My implementation of the system is pretty stupid. I've had bikes that don't fit right for months because I go by a general "good-enough" approach when it comes to setting them up initially. Glen says I should measure the relative distances on the bikes that do fit so that I have a better starting place when I build up another bike. That would be the methodical approach.


Who steels a basket? The front basket tied the whole bike together. This aggression will not stand.

This bike will be getting a basket that will take a bit more work to steal.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

More carryings on about the Chrome Duffle Rack Top Bag

Click for big. I did a a temporary quick on/off hack for the new bag.
It's fast; I can hook it on or off in a couple seconds.

I gotta say: I friggin' love this bag otherwise. The size and the shape of monster hole opening are the best features. I often have a bunch of books and stacks of paper to haul around and this bag makes that so great when I have to find a single book or folder.  I throw my helmet in there, my jacket, lunch. It's like a magic hole that never fills up.
 In my initial review, I bitched about the lack of shoulder strap, but after a week of using this bag, I'm actually not finding that I am missing it. I think it's because there's already too many strappy things on this bag. Once I figure out how a permanent quick on/off solution, I'll chop the straps off the bottom to eliminate dangly things.

This is the "fix" for strapping down the back of the bag. So there's just the front stretchy bit and this bit on the back. That's it. Simple, good enough for the quick three mile run between my house and the bus stop, but not an ideal set up for the longer 20 mile, mixed-surface commute.
I got mega-dumped on again during my long commute home today. The sky opened up for about 10 minutes and drenched me to kingdom come... the bag is fine for waterproofiness. No issues there.

Here's a closer look at the temp fix on the front.