Sunday, December 29, 2019

A shortened and still worth it Gran Fondo Ephrata

oh heck might as well publish this now. Let’s make it a whopping 2 posts for 2019!

This happened back in March, and this is what I can remember now. I had downloaded the pics to Blogger on my iPad and then ran into the usual issues between the two. I fired up my ancient MacBook for the first time in months, and after a few sprays of starter fluid in the carbureter got it up and running. And now I’m back on the iPad.

Due to the incredible winter weather we had in February, many of the paved and gravel roads of the traditional Gran Fondo Ephrata route were near or flat out impossible to bike. For the 80 miler, the course was re-routed to one of Vicious Cycles' regular road rides, and the Medio 50 miler was turned into a 35 miler - a hilly 17 mile loop on paved roads biked twice, another regular ride for the club. I had signed up for the Medio and was bummed out we wouldn't ride Overend Road, wasn't sure if a 35 mile was worth the drive. But I thought we should make the best of the situation and go for it.  Besides, we'd get to bike down the super fast, super fun Sheep Canyon Road twice!

I brought my Salsa Vaya, which is my trusty gran fondo/charity/century/commuting machine.

Decisions, decisions, what to wear. The weather was nice and sunny, but it could still be cold at the 3,000' level that time of year. I ended up with smartwool tights, long and short socks, knickers, t-shirt, and long sleeve. Maybe two t-shirts, not sure now.

Oh and I forgot my 5Tens, so had to go with my everyday Vans made of thinner material.

The Medio crowd, started an hour after the 80 miler.

Met bike buddy Arnold from Spokane at the start.

Up in the hinterlands, bright sun, bright snow. I had a good climb the first lap, and biked up to a group who were pedaling just a little slower than me. I didn't want to slow down and ride with them, so instead of losing some momentum, I rode on by. I don't get many opportunites to pass.

The riders spaced out after the climbs up Johnson Rd and Sagebrush Flats Rd.

This is the point in the blog where I get tired of writing.

Arnold lowered his saddle after the first lap, then zipped up the hill the 2nd time. My second go around was a bit slower.

found my Vans were not keeping my feet warm on the 2nd time around, also.

Came back with mom's recipe for a family favorite. Raisins are not optional in my book.

that’s all, looking forward to another go at it next March 15, registration opens Feb 1.

In other news, the left brifter* on my 2013 Vaya is broken and I’m going to overhaul the bike. REI has the 2019 Salsa Vaya on sale -54 and 55cm sizes are available and I’m tempted by it. The plan right now is to change the crankset from 46/34 to 46/30 and go back to 11-36 cassette. I switched to a 11-40 or (11-42?) but it just doesn’t shift well. And convert to 650b tires. I’m not sold on the size but I could fit some wider wider tires for commuting over bumpy streets. Or I could just buy the 2019 model that accepts up to 700x45 tires with fenders or 700x50 without.

Nah... I’m keeping the 2013 model.

*I forget if that’s the current tarck(tm) approved usage

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail (fka JWPT) -permitted

Ok I’m officially legal for the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail! I think that’s the official new name of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail/Iron Horse Park Trail. I can’t ever remember if the Palouse or Cascades goes first.

The original Race King tires on my Fargo are barely sorta kinda legal for the 2” limit for hanging bikes up in the baggage car on Amtrak’s Empire Builder. That is, with no air in them and the calipers squeezed tight. They have a big 2.2 on the side. I’ll box it if I have to, but I’m thinking it’ll be ok.

Anyhoo, I ordered some 50c Gravelking SK. They might not be the best choice for the rockier sections on the eastern section of the trail, but I’m going to give them a trial run and see how they do.  

Sunday, July 15, 2018

A Radwagon Tour of Spokane

hey look what the drones dropped on my front porch! 72 pounds of bike material.

Which after a little assembly by me, and a once-over by Grafton at Velofix, turned into this: a Radwagon from Rad Power Bikes:
oops left off the front fender
I have a front rack, platform, and side bag on order, but in the meantime this is how I’m rolling it. And roll it does. On my first spin around the neighborhood I was like a little kid, with a gee whiz this is cool feeling.  The bike has 5 levels of pedal assist and also a throttle for an extra boost. There may be some drag without any pedal assist, but I don’t notice it on flat ground.

I took it for a longer test ride and planned a route with hills to test out the pedal assist. First up: Pettett Drive, aka Doomsday Hill. Zipped right up it trying the first 3 pedal assist levels, and also without, using just the lower gears on the 3x7 drivetrain.

No hill, just the Centennial Trail in the Kendall Yards neighborhood.
Heading up the Ben Burr Trail
Perry Street

 Southeast Boulevard, heading up the South Hill. Not a real difficult climb, but the pedal assist is real nice and would be even handier with a heavier load.

After SE Blvd, I biked on some streets parallel to 29th Ave until I could get to the 29th Ave bike lanes further, ummm, west I think. It was funny, the battery level at this time showed 4 out of 5 bars, and after going down a little hill it went back up to 5. Hmm, must be something wrong with the gauge. Then I remembered, oh yeah the bike has regenerative braking! Every time you brake, it helps recharge the battery.  Cool! The gauge went back and forth for awhile until I charged it up more biking down the hill on various streets like Jefferson and Adams.

By the time I got home, I'd biked 31 miles and only used a bit of the battery. The bike is billed as having a 25-45+ range, so it all depends on how much you use/need the pedal assist or throttle.

I really like having the throttle when crossing streets after a stop because it gives you a little kick and gets you across quicker. It was easy getting used to using the pedal assist and throttle, although I find myself in a battle between using the manual gears, or just leaving it in a mid-gear and adjusting the assist or using the throttle as needed.

Rad Power Bikes only sells direct, and I wasn't able to try one before ordering. I did a little research beforehand and it seemed the battery and motor were equivalent to, or better than, other more expensive  E-Bikes. I was a little worried about the seat height because the pictures show it as really low, but I was able to get it high enough for my liking.  The 3 x 7 drivetrain isn't a good selling point, especially since I hate 3-rings. 

Overall, I'm pretty happy with it. I'd like to bike it to work because the extra power would help biking home on these long, hot, summer days. It's going to be a pain getting it int the elevator and thought the doors at work, though.

Monday, June 18, 2018

New tires! Panaracer GravelKing 700 x 38c (40-622)

Well I finally did it, got me some new tires. Earlier this year I looked at the rear Kenda Flintridge and saw it was getting worn down, and thought I should switch it to the front even though Sheldon Brown said not to. Thought maybe I could get another year or two out of the tires. But then I looked at the rear tire again a couple weeks ago, and said yikes! that center tread is worn. Maybe it’ll last through the year, but maybe not and it looks too worn now to move up to the front.

Well, I’ve been itching to try some other wider 700c tire offerings and there’s a few more to choose from now than a few years ago. Thought about the Maxxix ReFuse again, or the new Donnelly (neé Clement) Strada Ush 40c but then along came Panaracer with another GravelKing model but with a smooth tread and 38c (finally!). They’re light - 320g - and under $50. Choice of black or tan sidewalls. Cool, so I got me some. This time I went for smooth ride over long lasting as opposed to when I got the Kendas the main focus was on tires that looked like they would last a couple seasons.

I thought now would be a good time to upgrade my rims to actual tubeless rims instead of the stock DT Swiss/Stan’s tape combo, but I couldn’t wait. I tore off the old tires.

....and struggled mightily to get the new GravelKings on the rim. They were tight and close fitting! Tougher to get on than the studded Marathons. Finally, once they were on I zapped some air in with the compressor, and holy crap after the bead set and popped a few times, they were holding air. And they sat perfectly round on the rim. I put some sealant in and let them sit overnight. They lost a little air in the morning, with just a few spots where sealant leaked out a little.  

My first test ride was on the street and Fish Lake Trail with a helluva head and side winds. Didn’t really notice a big difference.

Been biking to work on them last week and this week, and found they do roll nice.  Really notice the difference when I’m coasting or going downhill, feels like the bike is rolling more easily. Took it on a dirt trail off Nortwest Blvd, and they handled pretty good.  I’m still a little leery on the street when turning on a gravel strewn street, but the grip seems pretty good on pavement. 

I might be getting too optimistic here, and expecting a little too much from these tires, but maybe now I’ll finish the Midnight Century under 10 hours again!

I’m just not looking forward to when I finally upgrade the wheels on my Vaya and have to take the tires off, and put them on again. 

P.s. legal disclaimer: Tires were bought and paid for by myself as no companies still don’t  send me free stuff to review.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Carrying on about the little things

well hey I don’t have much to say

but I've got some pics of some small carries.

(In other news I figured out how to get around the no-scrolling on iPad on Blogger by hitting return, and was able to get all pics off my phone or iPad instead of opening up my ancient laptop and waiting days for it to download 2,000 pics from my phone. Except I have to ignore the jumping around after every keystroke whilst typing. Maybe now I’ll blog more.     Ha!)

Not carrying much in this pic, but it shows the WolfTooth B-RAD Half Bottle Adapter (bought and paid for by me) in action at NorthTown Mall. Just barely clears my right foot and allows use of a larger bottle with a frame bag. I got a Ride More Drive less sticker from Hottman Law Office - The Cyclist Lawyer and it is partially covering up some wear and tear due to carelessness on my Vaya.

every once in awhile I break down and get something tasty like a huge cinnamon roll from Rocket  Bakery. You should try their Pecan Roll!

Airing out my t-shirt after a workout at Lilac City Fit Body Bootcamp!

 Also, my bike ride home from workout goes near the Viking. Pretty convenient.

Hot pizza! Accidentally ordered extra slices at Veraci Pizza on the way home

Hot breakfast burrito! from My Fresh Basket on my way to work. Good but too much potato. Do potatoes belong in breakfast burritos?

Cool find at Judy’s Enchanted Garden. This was destined for the Mothers Day Baskets at work 
each team makes and auctions off to benefit the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery. A few people unhappy with me outbidding them, but hey I used to watch Storage Wars (Yuuuup!) and it’s for a good cause. (I give up blogger you win)

The view from the handlebars

Discovered the Trekz Titanium wireless bone conduction earphones fit with my helmet on. 
woo hoo!

Checking out the new pavement on the Monroe Street hill whilst carrying Skippers takeout

I moved the Blackburn Local rack from the front to rear, and accidentally ordered an inexpensive
pizza rack from State Street Cycle that should be great for the front. I had cut down the rack struts and they’re were too short for the rear, but luckily had some extra Salsa struts that fit.

Oh I got carried away with the carrying and must have been a sight to see

Another smug yes I can carry that home on my bike pic. 

At the aforementioned Skippers, and more fresh pavement on the somewhat controversial Monroe Street makeover.

That’s all for now!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

It's a Ride Report: GFE

Whoa, I finished the 80 mile Ephrata Gran Fondo in 7hours 32minutes; 2 minutes slower than last year even though I feel a little stronger now. Going to blame it on all the stopping for pics I did this year. Still a full hour and 1/2 slower than 2014 back when I was in better shape, actually getting some long rides in beforehand during milder Jan-Feb weather.

So yes we got pics, lots of pics this time.

I took the front rack off my Vaya this time, and it seemed more spry and speedy. Haven't put it back on yet for commute mode which means I had to backpack donations for our work sponsored charity, splitting it up into two trips. Thinking I'll eventually put front and maybe rear rack back on, but right now I'm enjoying the ride.

I also pumped the tires up over 40psi and they rolled better on the pavement sections. Usually, I lower them because of the gravel sections which doesn't work as well for the pavement.

Note below also, I have the WolfTooth B-Rad Half-Bottle adapter on the down tube bottle cage. It rotates the bottle out just a bit so the tall 22 oz bottle will fit outside the frame bag when the bottle cage is in the usual spot.  It just clears the pedals, and surprisingly doesn't get in the way. I've also used just the B-Rad base to lower the bottle cage centered on the downtube, but then the seat tube bottle gets in the way and you have to raise it and use a shorter bottle.
the venerable vaya, in anti-BQ anti-rando mode
The pre-ride meeting:

The traditional foggy screen shot after I first pull my phone out of my pocket. This was an hour  or so in and already off the back as they say:

What I've noticed this year and last is there are more gravel style bikes with lower gears than there used to be. First couple years I did it there was hardly anybody with lower gears than me, but this year I watched enviously as a guy with a 1 x 12 system effortlessly pass me up a hill as I was in my lowest gear (34 X 36). Of course, sometimes they effortlessly pass me because I'm just slow.

Most of these pics are of the gravel sections, yet only about 30 miles is gravel/dirt.  Needs more.

Baird Springs Road, my favorite portion of the ride. It's a fast downhill, and my tendency is to go too fast. When I first started biking this Fondo I would pass a lot of guys on skinny tired road bikes, but now I'm so far back I don't get to fly smugly by anybody..

More pics of this area, because I can't decide which ones to edit out.

It's funny, I almost switched to the 50 mile course which doesn't go down Baird Springs Rd. It leaves from the other end towards Quincy, and takes Overend Rd. which crosses Baird. One thing in favor of the 50 mile course was riding the full Overend Rd which I've never done. I also just like the name, and it seems appropriate for me.  While biking down Baird, suddenly I met bikers heading towards me - it tuns out the 50 miler had to be re-routed and skipped Overend.

30 some miles in, and it's biking on Stuhlmiller Road up above Hwy 28 and the Columbia River.
we would soon be riding on Hwy 28 for a stretch
There were a lot of dirt bikers in the Stuhmiller Road area, and I began to wonder why don't I take up dirt biking? Seems easier and funner! Also more potential for broken bones for this old man who likes to got too fast downhill.

More pics I can't decide to delete.

The Palisades Road through the Moses Coulee. I noticed an old shack up against the cliffs along here that I hadn't seen before. Thought about exploring but I stuck to the planned route.

These guys were stopped ahead of me, and got going when they saw me coming. I'd been leapfrogging with the two in black a few tines. One had bike issues early on, and I passed them again when they stopped on Stuhlmiller Road. They promptly passed me again, then  I saw them at the 40 mile pit stop. The guy in yellow took a ride home a bit beyond here.

The first of the Three Devils hill, which I am happy to report I didn't walk up this year. It's steeper than it looks, honest! After here I found myself glancing at my Garmin and worrying about the time and mileage, so I switched it to the elevation screen. This year I wasn't too concerned about how fast I was going compared to others, I was just biking it at my own pace trying not too worry about the time and distance.

Another foggy screen shot, this time up in the Sagebrush Flats area. I actually passed a guy after the climb up from the Palisades on a short stretch of paved Sagebrush Flats Road, before the turn onto gravel Road 23.

Back on Sagebrush Flats Road, I stopped to take a pic of the change from the last bit of gravel to pavement, and that guy I passed went and passed me. I though oh no, I'm last place now! Sure, I was biking at my own speed, but I didn't really want to be last. A support truck came up from behind and asked me how I was doing. Doing great! Not going to take a ride now, less than 20 miles from the finish. Sometimes I wonder if the support truck is just hoping we stragglers throw in the towel and they can head to the post ride meal.

Still up in the hills, before the last superfun downhill portion of Sagebrush Flats Road. Ephrata in the distance off to the right.

Sorry no pics of the downhill. Like I've said before, I should have been a downhill mountain biker, I love going fast downhill. I came up from behind the guy that had just passed me and could've probably zipped by him. But in a rare moment of caution, I held back. He ended up finishing less than a minute ahead of me.

I got a few cheers from the timing people as I hit the finish line, and snagged a finisher's patch from an outstretched arm. As I was resting up it looked like the timers were closing up but then I heard more cheers and another biker approaching. Whoa, somebody was behind me. Good thing I didn't slow down at the end.

I biked the two miles home to my parent's house, and then we went to dinner at Tequila's, a Mexican restaurant in town. I stayed overnight and drove back to Spokane the next day.