Sunday, November 13, 2016

What's Great about Spokane Biking

What I like about Spokane biking is that we have it all: Street, road, gravel, dirt trails, no-trails, and multi-use paths like the Fish Lake and Centennial Trails.  What's really great is I can ride to all these from my home in the Shadle/Audubon area, and I can ride all the varied surfaces in the same ride.

One Sunday in October, I started out on one of my usual routes - Dwight Merkel trail to Aubrey Wright to Bowl & Pitcher, Trail 25/100 to Houston Rd to Mission Rd.  But I needed to stop at REI, so instead of heading to Old Trails, I headed back towards town.  Well, first I had to loop around Deno and Mission twice due to to an incredibly faulty sense of direction.  Follow along here:   Sunday Bike Ride Version 8.9a.

Trail:
Gravel:
well, shoot, this is kinda embarrassing, but I must've deleted all my pics from that day.  That just pretty much ruins the plan for this post, but I'll bravely carry on.

So here's a gravel pic from today:
we've got turkeys, too!
Here's a street pic from mid-Oct:

Ok, enough pics.

Today I headed out again.  From Mission I went up Euclid, thinking I'd take this route, except without the hike-a-bike-possibly-trespassing at the end of Jacobs Rd down to Garfield Rd.  I thought I'd find Garfield Rd, head to Nine Mile Falls or Deep Creek and come back home on the Centennial Trail.  I stopped at the Jacobs/Rambo Rd intersection to check google maps but the resolution wasn't good enough to see the roads.  I turned south on Rambo Rd thinking I'd find Garfield, but instead after a bit I found Euclid and turned on it.  It turned into a good climb.  It didn't dawn on me that I was just going up the same stretch of Euclid instead of down it until I passed a house with a '70 Ford Galaxie 500 in the yard.  It looked just like one I passed on the way in.  Everything looks different while climbing up instead of rolling downhill. I decided to head back home the same way, and not do a loop.  You can see the garmin map here: Sunday Bike Ride Version 8.9k. 

I think instead of turning south on Rambo Rd before Jacobs Rd deadends, I can ride this route: north on Rambo, east on Teepee, north on Craig, to Lincoln Rd, to Garfield Rd and 7-mile Rd and back to Riverside State Park territory.  Maybe next Sunday.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Small-Haul Photo Dump

in the meantime…

You know, this flat pizza/porter rack up front is handy for carrying things hard to fit in panniers, and items that need to sit up.  I wish there were some rear racks that came with a wider platform that also worked with panniers.  Might be some out there.

mmmm, dinner from Tortilla Union

clearance plants from river ridge hardware - did not get a
bumper crop

you say it's your birthday

then there's those items difficult to attach to front or rear racks:
studded tires for bike buddy at work who's interested in 
biking through the winter

what photo dump would be complete without a potluck picture?

love that tostitos bean dip

 I break out the BoB trailer sometimes:
raspberry bushes from Judy's Enchanted Garden - hoping to get 
some berries next year

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Rail to Trail: Spokane to Seattle and Halfway Back Prep

One summer's eve a long time ago, me and my Fargo headed to the Spokane Amtrak station for a trip to Seattle and then to the John Wayne Pioneer Trail.  But first I had to do some planning and packing, which in my case starts with getting out the plastic bin that holds all my bikepacking stuff, pulling items out and hazarding guesses if I'm going to need them or not.  How many freeze-dried food packs should bring vs how many will I actually use?  Bear spray, first aid kit, wipes, jetboil, coffee - all the essentials. Hammock - maybe not this time.  New Sawyer water filter contraption along with the SteriPen, Platypus Platy 70 oz flex bottles.  Need more chicken/tuna salad & cracker snacks, along with the usual turkey jerky and trail mix to survive on.


I was going to use my Velo-Orange front rack to hold the sleeping back and tent, but it didn't fit on the Fargo.  Its 29" mountain bike tires are too tall.  Next up was the Blackburn Top-It, but I remembered from experience on the Columbia Plateau Trail that it was a pain to securely tie the sleeping bag and tent crossways on it.  Next plan - Revelate harness.  I had a week to go, so I ordered one from Universal Cycles and it arrived from Portland in two days.

For the rear, I halfway hoped to use the Revelate Pika seat bag. But I also wanted to carry as much water as I could east of the Columbia River, so I opted for the rear rack and panniers.  From front to rear I was set: sleeping bag in harness, handlebar bag, Anything cages, frame bag, Topeak bottle holder under down tube, rear rack with tent on top, panniers to hold rain gear, clothes, food, empty Platypus etc. And a Camelbak.

I loaded most everything up and took the Fargo for a spin.  Rode great, perfect.

My only real worry regarding way finding was getting from Seattle to the Iron Horse State Park/JWPT Trailhead.  Debbie and I have ridden the I-90/Mountains to Sound trail from Bellevue/Factoria to Seattle and back, but there are a few gaps and tricky spots.  Then there's the matter of getting from Issaquah to the JWPT.  I was hoping to find a way south of I-90 after Issaquah, but that wasn't looking too promising.  It looked like I'd have to stay along the I-90 corridor to North Bend.

the JWPT is near the lower right hand edge

But through the wonders of the internet I found Chris Rhinehart's JWPT Seattle Start on Ride with GPS.  It follows the I-90 Trail, then connects to the other trails in King County - the Issaquah-Preston Trail, Preston-Snoqualmie Trail, Snoqalmie Ridge Trail and Snoqualmie Valley Trail.  I downloaded it to my phone, along with printing the cue sheet. Then our Internet went out and I stopped researching.  I figured with Chris' route and the King County pages torn out of my DeLorme Washington State Atlas, I'd be fine.

Ha!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Journey to Costco

I don't bike to Costco often, mostly due to laziness and because my BoB trailer isn't big enough for most Costco-sized trips. But occasionally if I need a few small items like this here iPaddy thing I'm typing on, I bike there. The trip illustrates some of the little difficulties or inconveniences of getting around a city like Spokane by bike.  You have to plan and think about just which way you want to take, more so than driving in a car.

Costco is only about 4 miles away and the route I took this time back in September started easy enough: head north on A Street to Rowan Ave. There's a roundabout at A and Wellesley to navigate, then A Street north up to Rowan is a 2-lane street with a yellow stripe down the middle.  Right on Rowan and the new bike lane. Mmmm, fresh pavement!


And then at Monroe Street there's that sign that's all too common: Bike Lane Ends. No real big deal though, because after Monroe, Rowan isn't a real busy street.


I continued on and turned left/North onto Wall Street, which is a bike route.

Well, even though it's a bit narrow of a street for a bike route, the southbound lane is wider for bikes.  Heading north there's not a whole lot of room, but I've never had any trouble with the motorized folks.  Another option is to take one of the parallel streets one block over that are quieter.


Next intersection to cross is busy 5-lane Francis Ave. If there's a line of stopped traffic at the light, options are to take the lane, filter up if you're adventurous, (lots of vehicles turning right on the red light) or use the sidewalk and crosswalk.  I usually get behind a vehicle.


Well look what's after the intersection - another bike lane!

Which goes for mile or so, and ends (surprise!) at the convergence of Wall Street and Monroe:


We're almost there!  Wall Street is a sometimes busy 4-lane and I'm tempted to hop on the sidewalk but I stick to the street.  It's not so busy that vehicles coming up behind you in the right lane can't move easily around you into the left lane.


At the bottom of the hill it's a right turn onto W Cascade Way and another bike lane pops up!

Which lasts until the turn into the access to Costco's parking lot, because we can't make it easy for bikes to cross Division.

Gotta be careful around all those Costco shoppers driving around intent on getting the closest spot to the door.  I made my way safely to the bike rack snuck in between a display car, pillar, and shopping carts. Locked it up and left plenty of room for other bikers.

Route finding through a mixture of busy streets, quiet residential streets, bike lanes that pop up and then end suddenly - that's biking in Spokane.






Sunday, October 16, 2016

Loose Dog Tolerance

A few years ago I was bit by a dog while biking home. The dog took me by surprise and moved in on me pretty fast.  I didn't have any time for the usual avoidance tactics - turn around or away, hop off the bike and get it between me and the dog.  It just came in low with its head down and bit me on the lower leg.

After that, whenever I came across a loose dog in the street I'd turn around if I had time, or jump off the bike and use it as a shield.  If the dog owner was around, they'd think I was crazy.  After all, he's a friendly dog and has never bit anybody.  (Which is what they usually say just before their dog bites you.)

Over a year later, I was still skittish near loose dogs while biking.  Then one day I was biking at Palisades Park, heading towards a couple with a loose dog.  The dog didn't run up to me, and I rode  by them without incident.  After that I started to feel better when coming across dogs on the trail, but still wary. Some dogs just walked by at the side of their owners, others though would have to run up to me, and I'd either stop and let them sniff me, or try to keep riding by.  I'd still get irritated with the people who didn't have their dogs leashed, especially those who made no effort to call their dogs back, or would yell "oh she's friendly, she doesn't bite".

Then I became one of those dog owners. I take our dogs walking in the wooded area behind Joe Albi Stadium and next to the cemetery. Lots of folks do, some leashed but most not. It's a bit of an unofficial dog park. I kept them on a leash for a long time while walking out there. Then I starting letting them loose but leashing them as soon as I saw a biker, runners or other dogs.  Then I found our dogs got along with the other loose dogs and loved running free.  I became a bit more relaxed about it.  Then of course when I wasn't paying close enough attention, they ran up to a couple mountain bikers on a narrow trail. Now, they're not big dogs, but they can be wild and noisy. I could see somebody might crash trying to avoid them. The bikers weren't  concerned and I ran up and corralled them, said I'm sorry. I made sure I didn't say they don't bite!

I started becoming more tolerant of loose dogs.  Biking on the South Hill bluff trails earlier this year there were lots of loose dogs, and it was just part of the trail conditions. I just expect them on the trails there and at Riverside State Park now.  Not that they can't be or aren't a problem, and there is a leash law.

I'm more bothered by loose dogs on the Centennial Trail or city streets and only once this year I've been worried or frightened by dogs. There's a guy who frequently walks his 3 or 4 loose dogs by the Centennial Trail on his way down the ridge. Back in June I saw them up ahead and I attempted to take a side trail away from them. They spied me and came running after me.  I rode through the pack, yelling at the guy to get your fucking dogs off of me!

This brings me back to tactics. That time I chose to ride through them, instead of stopping and waiting for the owner to get their dogs, or use the bike as a shield. I have pepper spray in my bag but it's not easy to get to. But a year or so ago I read this blog post over at the Bike Shop Hub - Dealing With Dogs.  It's a good article and includes a Mark Twain story - always a plus. The writer's advice is:  ride towards the loose dog. Aim for the dog.

In the year or so since I'd read this, I never had the presence of mind to try it out. I was always too startled by the dogs when they came running towards me. Finally, last week on the Centennial Trail past Kendall Yards a dog came running up to me and I remembered - bike towards it, aim for the dog!  The dog got a confused look in its face, and stopped just in front of me. I wasn't sure what its reaction would be once I got close to it, but it just stood there. I had to brake so that I wouldn't run into it. Woo hop, it worked.  Then a couple days later who'd I see up ahead? That guy and his loose dogs. One came running up to me and I headed towards it. It stopped and went wtf?  As I rode by the guy he just gave me a sideways look. Probably hasn't had anybody try that on his dogs before.

So this is my new tactic on dogs that I'm not sure what they're going to do. If they're just walking next to their people or not coming towards me, I let them be. If they're running towards me and there's no way to avoid them, I'm aiming for them.  It may seem counterintuitive, and put you closer to the dog's teeth, but they're not expecting it. Seems to work for me.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

whaddya know, a new helmet

I'd been thinking for awhile about replacing my Lazer Armor helmet, seen here on the train to Seattle:

I'd lost the inside padding strip earlier this year  - it attached with small velcro tabs that didn't hold well - so it was a bit uncomfortable.  Also, the helmet doesn't come equipped with a visor and I don't like the feel and looks of a biking cap under a helmet (I know…). Even though I just bought it last year I was looking at new helmets, and the Bell Annex caught my eye. It's MIPS-Equipped and has a sliding vent to either let air in or keep the elements out.  Cool and dorky looking!

Little did I know that within two days of the above pic, the Lazer helmet would disappear.  I was riding the John Wayne Pioneer Trail with the helmet perched on the back of my bike like so:

(a nice little camping spot between Snoqualmie Falls and Snoqualmie -
I'll get to this story someday)
and somewhere between Lake Easton and the Hyak Trailhead, I lost it.  I figure I didn't get the helmet straps hooked around the tent straps, or I set it down to dig through my panniers for a snack and forgot to attach it back on the bike.

Well that worked out pretty good and now I was free to get a new helmet. (I do have a couple Bern helmets also but the summer liner/visor for one had worn out.  When went to order a replacement I found Bern had changed their sizing and didn't have a direct replacement to fit mine.  I ordered one anyway, but it turned out to be too tight.)

So I splurged and paid the $125 for the Annex.  I think I had a $20 REI card so that helped.


The little knob on the top slides the vent open and close.  The padding inside detaches if you want to let more air in.  The fit and feel of the Annex is much better than the Armor but the Armor is less expensive at $70.  The Annex is heavier but not too bad.  On days when the temperature is in the 90's, I don't think the vent really helps much but other days it does cool my head more.  When it's in the upper 90's I may tend to ride with just a hat on the way home anyway.  The visor is a little short and doesn't help much when the sun is at a lower angle.  Overall, I really like it.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Blog Posts! Blog Posts! We've got Blog Posts!

Unfortunately, they're all in my head:

Rail to Trail: Spokane to Seattle and half the way back.
What I've Learned from Jaywalkers and Jaywalking
Hold your Ground
The Incredible Smugness of Being a Year-round Bike Commuter
Spokane Street Department Papers: Crosswalk and Speed Limits
New Bike! (just kidding)
Supporting Your Local Bike Shops
Another (sub)Urban Trail ride home

And then I've got a couple events in mind:

Intergalactic End of Summer Ride Your Fatbike to Work Day
Downtown Commuter Coffeeneuring
Belsby Road to John Wayne Trail Ride


All of which will most likely not happen but you never know