Sunday, August 16, 2020

Beacon Hill First Timer Reporting

Back in December when we picked vacation days at work I picked a random weekend in August for a 4-day weekend as is my wont. I think everybody needs some time off in August and maybe we’ll want to go somewhere. We didn’t, as usual, (it’s just too hot) and sometime after I woke up on Friday I said today is the day - I’m biking to Beacon Hill! Finally, after who knows how many years of biking in Spokane, I’m going to one of the premier mountain biking spots in Spokane. I even got out of the house by 10am while it was still cool. Luckily, the forecast was for only temps in the 80° range.

The Beacon Hill trails start at Esmeralda Golf Course and I had hadn’t been there for years. I searched for a bike route there the night before: I didn’t look too closely but saw that Bridgeport will lead to the golf course. It’s about 5 miles away from our house. 

On Friday morning I headed east on Garland Ave, thinking for some reason it becomes Bridgeport somewhere east of  Division.  After Division I went a block south and took Providence Ave paralleling Garland; East Garland is a narrow 2-lane street with parking on both sides. I avoid streets like that. Arriving at 4-lane Regal Street, I said ok where’s Bridgeport and pulled out my phone. Google maps was now telling me to go down to Euclid and cross Regal there.  I headed south and found Bridgeport:

Well ok then, I headed to Euclid and didn’t follow the directions and found Minnehaha Park:

and then found my way to the Esmeralda Bike Trail

The Esmeralda Trail is a loop up to the top of Beacon Hill and back down. It’s mostly smooth with banked corners, a change from the alternately smooth and rocky trails I usually ride out at Riverside State Park. Evergreen East/Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance does a great job in Spokane developing and maintaining trails in the area. 

Big views nearing the top:

more smooth banked trail

and the top, after walking the last bit
Looking at my Fargo with its drop bars and no suspension reminds me that on the way up I went over a little jump off a rock and remembered just as I launched that this bike isn’t really made for jumping. Luckily, I made the landing without crashing or hitting my mouth on the handlebars. 

At the top there are signs for some of the other trails with names like Upchuck to explore. Plenty of trails to explore. Being out of shape and not sure how far afield the trails went, I took the Esmeralda Trail back down. It was a fun ride down and for once I was careful not to get going too fast for my skill level and bike. 

I got a sandwich at the golf course afterwards and eyed the bike and scooter-style carts available to rent. I’ve been thinking about trying a little golf again and next time I could do a mountain bike/golf duathalon.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

out and about in wileydogland

no ride on mission and  deno is complete without getting chased by a dog. this pic was taken after i was safely far enough away. this dog was a sneaky one - as i came around a corner that merged with his driveway, he came silently running at an angle from behind. no bark ninja dog.  

i couldn’t lift this tree. anybody have a chainsaw i can borrow?

somebody did a good job of improving the merge of the upper trail with the merkel trail

multicare rockwood moved my dr’s office from the main clinic near downtown to up yonder on the south hill moran prairie area. i took southeast blvd cause i’m out of shape and didn’t think it’s as steep as some of the other routes. i barely made it.  at least i got pizza at the perry street market on my way home (see below).

i got some of those funky surly bars from velofix grafton’s garage sale and put em on my muirwoods. the bike actually fits me now. i have some orange pedals on it now and thinking orange cables will look good on it when i convert it to 2 or 1 x10 or single speed. maybe orange tires might be too much?

i moved some logs and rocks out of the way last year that were blocking the trail and next time rode by there was a bigger log blocking the trail. maybe some homeowner thought it was ok for them to block a trail on state park land that runs in front of the houses to the right. i was ready to go buy a little electric chainsaw but when i came out again in early spring i found mother nature or somebody already took care of it for me. 

thanks, mother nature! or folks!

rats one of my favorite routes is blocked. euclid road. some guys have still crossed on the bridge here but it looked a little too rickety for me. 

more biking on the riverside state park land between aubrey wright parkway and joe albi/dwight merkel/ housing development off 7-mile. i’m really growing more appreciative of these nearby trails. 

the well deserved pizza after biking up to moran prairie 

this year’s bikepacking get up. might get out in september or october. 

more hauling stuff

not my favorite way to lock up bit i desperately needed new guitar strings

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Preliminary bike camping setup

perhaps maybe i’ll get out this year and do some bike camping/packing/touring. and what’s that i hear? the snoqualmie tunnel is open now!

so here’s my current setup i’m fiddling with. i found i don’t like using  a handlebar roll, especially with the woodchippers on my 2013 fargo. not much room between the hoods. what i’m trying instead is the revelate nano panniers on the racktime topit rack up front. a dry bag with bivy bag and quilt stuffed in it on the rack. handlebar bag. feed bag. anything cages & bags. frame bag. portland design works brindle rack holding a revelate terrapin bag. another handlebar bag on the terrapin.

i’m also using the wolf tooth b-rad to offset a water bottle on the down tube and a topeak bottle cage to hold 32 oz water. thinking of another water bottle on the top tube. i have a couple bear spray canisters i’m deciding where to put.

i partially packed the bike for a test ride - clothes and sundry items in the terrapin, 2 liter bladder and tool kit in the frame bag, jetboil, food, misc in the anything bags. it rode pretty good with none of the wobblyness i had when i used a rear rack with maybe overloaded ortleib panniers a few years ago. of course that could change when i get it fully packed. i’ll have a 3 liter camelbak and extra osprey bladders.  there’s more room in the dry bag and terrapin, but the goal is not to overpack, carry the essentials plus a little more.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Salsa Vaya 650b 46/30

Well, I finally did it. My 2013 Vaya has clearance for 700c x 38 with fenders and 700c x 42 w/o and I wanted a little wider tire. Despite not being completely sold on the 650b wheelsize, I watched that Path Less Pedaled video again on converting their 2013 Vaya and ordered an inexpensive wheelset.

BEFORE I GO FURTHER, I should mention Salsa says don’t do this, the bike was not designed for 650b. Death or dismemberment could ensue.

In the meantime, my left shifter paddle was broken and the 11 x 42 cassette I put on last year wasn’t shifting the greatest with a derailer spec’d for 36t max. I was tempted to wait for a nice new orange 2020 Vaya with 11speeds and clearance for 700 x 50c. I love this Vaya and wasn’t going to be able to sneak a bright orange bike into the garage so I ordered new Apex shifters and an FSA MegaExo 46 x 30 crankset. Gonna do a complete overhaul, and still get close to the same low gear range using 11-36t cassette.

Because of winter weather, I hadn’t ridden the Vaya for a couple months. Just after I ordered the wheels we had a nice day with clear roads and I rode it to work and the Rockwood Clinic. It handled great with the 700 x 38 GravelKing slicks. Bumpy 4th Ave wasn’t too rough. I had second thoughts about changing. With the wheels on their way, I was committed to trying 650 now.

The next decision was, how wide of a tire did I want? 42 or 43 is probably enough to smooth out city streets and the occasional off road riding. So I went for the whole hog and went for 47s. Threw a dart and came up with  the Teravail Rampart Light & Supple TR Road Plus tires. I don’t know how they compare to your Compass/Herse tires in suppleness. They were tough to get on the rims which I took to be a good sign that they would stay on. I’ve been riding around on regular rims set up tubeless with Stan’s rim strips without the tires falling off but feel better with actual tubeless rims. One wheel I was able to set the bead with out using a compressor, only a pump.

The tires done, and the rear outfitted with the 11-36 cassette I had, I tackled the next part: changing the crankset and bottom bracket.

prior to adjusting the fender line, sorry! kept the same 700c
fenders. also oops didn’t notice till after i struggled to get 
the tires on that the label wasn’t opposite the valve stem
too late!
In an amazing feat in the annals of bicycle maintenance and repair, not only did I remove the crankset AND bottom bracket all by myself, I installed the new BB and crankset, too. Had two washers left over, a rubber one and stamped metal one, both thin. Took it for a test ride and it worked! Well, mostly, had a little trouble with the front shifting. I hoped that would get fixed when I had a professional install the new shifters. The rear shifting was good, even with the extra links in the chain put in when I switched to the 11-42 cassette.

I commuted on the Vaya the next few days, and sometimes I could shift the front gears up or down, and sometimes I couldn’t. Weird. I poked around and found the pedals slid back and forth and I had an extra 1/4 play in the crankset. Maybe that’s why sometimes it shifted and sometimes it didn’t! The bottom bracket directions showed 2 spacers on the right and 1 on the left, but then again an online video installation said they called FSA and were told that was incorrect and no spacers were needed. Not sure which spacers to get, I decided Nigel at Simple Machine Bike Repair could hopefully figure it out when I took the bike in to get the shifters installed. Long story short: he figured out I didn’t need spacers, just those two thin washers installed and everything fit correctly. Didn’t even need a new front derailer.

On my first test ride after everything was done, I took it up Pettet Drive aka Doomsday Hill. Made it up with 3 gears left in reserve. Woo hoo! The Teravail Ramparts roll smoothly and dare I say faster. Could be just my imagination. I’ve ridden them on some gravel roads and dirt trails and they’ve performed great.

The overall diameter of the tires are a little less than the 700 x 38 tires so I lost a little in the top gear, but gained a bit in the lowest gear. The pedals are lower to the ground but this hasn’t been a problem. The only time I really noticed it was riding up the Merkel trail cut into the hillside - I would scrape the hillside at the bottom of the pedal stroke.

And here’s my Vaya all fitted out for commuting adventures and breakfast tacos from TacoVado

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.