Sunday, December 30, 2012

Biking on thin ice

Today I thought the most biking I'd get in would be a couple blocks to get some coffee, which probably would've met the stringent requirements of the challenge.

But my wife sent me out the door and told me to get some miles in. So I obeyed. I told her I'd cross the TJ Meenach Bridge and check out the Centennial Trail to see if it was rideable.  In case I don't return by nightfall, she likes to know where I'm biking.  I took the road down from Downriver Golf Course planning on turning left on to Downriver Drive, but instead I turned right because I thought I'd first check out the Bowl and Pitcher area at Riverside State Park.  There were a few cars in the lot. Of course, then I had walk across the bridge there.


So I threw all caution to the wind and abandoned my planned ride.  Took the trail that leads up to the Centennial Trail from there and found it was mostly easy riding on the mountain bike. Crossed the Centennial Trail where it was a mixture of easy to stuck in the snow riding.  Mostly easy to follow the other bike tracks in the snow.


I tooled around for a bit on trails 212, 211 and 210 and a few others I came across; hit the Centennial a couple times and met a few people on it; made my way to the 7-Mile airstrip area.

There were a few puddles covered with a thin layer of ice and snow:

this would be the biking on thin ice part...not quite as dramatic as it sounds

One of the wider forest road style trails.  Although, it also looks a bit like the Centennial.

A few trails became unrideable on 29er tires or too much work after awhile so I headed back. About 17 miles total.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

TSB Club Challenge Day 6?

I think today is officially Day 6 (Saturday) of Tarik Saleh's Bike Club challenge, Day 4 for me since I skipped or missed the first two.

Debbie had a run near downtown today so the plan was to ride down and meet her there and then go out for breakfast at Dolly's with some friends.  I was moving real slow this morning but I finally got moving after about 4 cups of coffee.

Time to put the flannel lined jeans on:


Little snow is left on the main streets, so I got on a bike without studded tires - yea! - and headed down.  Stopped at REI to check out what was left at the used gear sale.  Saw a couple good deals on a Scott Sportster and a Raleigh cross bike that nobody had snapped up yet.

After the usual debate about where to go to breakfast - Dolly's, Franks, let's see, we were just at Central Food and also Alpine Bistro last week - we settled on Hogan's.  It's next to Trader Joe's and we're low on the 49cent Tuna for Cats and other essentials.  This is where I cheated - I didn't want everybody waiting for me while I tooled up the South Hill on my bike and probably getting lost, so I put the bike on the truck.  Good thing we still have the rack on it.  Not really cutting down on our carbon footprint, though, eh? We followed our friends to Joe's. They're from the South Hill and knew the quickest way to get there. Coming from the North Side it seems like you drive forever to get there, but it turns out it's not as far as I thought and could've ridden there without keeping everybody waiting long.

After breakfast & Trader Joe's I hopped on the bike and headed down the hill.  It did work out pretty good for me in that I biked down the South Hill instead of up it.

Stopped at Lincoln Park and tooled around the loop:



I meandered down the hill, took a few wrong turns and found the big staircase on Perry and a few other parts of the hill I hadn't seen before.

A couple good rides on a good bike.  Added just over 18 miles to the 27 commuting miles

Friday, December 28, 2012

Tarik Saleh Bike Club 100 mile bike challenge

You may have heard of the Tarik Saleh Bike Club 100 mile bike challenge:

"1. Just ride your bike 100 miles from 12/24-12/31 and you have achieved the challenge."
"2. Or just ride your bike every day from 12/24-12/31and you have achieved the challenge."

Hmmm, I might be able to make 100 miles, but I missed biking on the 24th and 25th (I know, hard to believe) so I have some catching up to do.  Biking to work and back will add up to about 36 miles so between now and 11:59pm Monday might be able to make it to 100. But if that fails, there's a 3rd part to the challenge:

"3. Or just try to ride your bike just a bit more than you might have otherwise and you have achieved it."

He will send you a bike club pin if you make the goal.

I like this Tariq.  Ok, I'm in.

And now for a little bit from today's ride:

I didn't want to deal with the snow and traffic on Alberta Street, so I've been riding down Nettleton on my way to work this week.  Wednesday and Thursday it was pretty rough, but the new snow tires handled it well.  Today most of the snow was gone, just a little icing left on the street.  As I looked down the street, though, I momentarily second guessed my choice of route. I thought, you know, Alberta is probably free of ice and snow now like the other arterials and less steep, so what am I doing over here?  




But it actually wasn't bad, and made it down safely.

This is a real crappy cell phone pic from starting out.  Next time need to get the gopro set up. Some days the only place studs are needed is to get off the hill on our block:


that's all. Hoping to get a non-snow-bike out for a ride tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

the Studded Tire Debate (new Marathon 50-622)

The Schwalbe Marathon Winter 700 X 35mm tires I bought last year sure work good on smooth snow and ice and fluffy snow, but leave something to be desired on mushy tire tracks and icy ruts.  The bike wants to follow the ruts instead of going where I want it to go.  Did some searching and saw the Nokian Hakkapelitta 240 700C X 40  studded tires -  they look like they'd grip better in adverse conditions, but might not be as smooth as the Marathons on bare pavement, which is a good chunk of my winter riding in Spokane.  My ride to and from work on any given day can run the whole gamut from deep fluffy snow to icy ruts to wet pavement. Then I saw some new 2 inch wide 29er Marathons (50-622/28 X 2.0). A little less knobby tread pattern than the Nokian.  So I went back and forth - would the Marathons be knobby enough to ride in all conditions?  Would the Nokians be too rough? Did I need to get a new pair? The 35mm ones should last a few more seasons.



So anyways, these Schwalbe Marathon Winter 50-622 tires arrived last Thursday - too late for that day's snow.  The dogs got them for me for Christmas, putting an end to my internal debate.  Thought about putting them on my mountain bike but want to keep it available for some possible January thaw riding like last winter, so I swapped them in on the Marin.  I swear, for an "urban" style bike, this ride has tons of clearance - almost looked like it could fit the new Surly 3" Knards.

Took a ride Saturday on bare pavement and immediately noticed a more sure-footed handling on the bike.  With the 35mm tires it felt like they were going to fall in some cracks in the road and the handling felt twitchy.  I think this bike is designed for wider, almost mountain bike size tires.  Today's ride to work had a little bit of everything - smooth pavement, flat ice, smooth snow, icy ruts, snow/ice piles - and these tires handled great.  Hoping we get some more snow so I can give them a good workout.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Latest Biking Accessories




I am such an old man. Flannel lined jeans and a weather station, both from Costco.

Last year I think I biked to work all winter in just jeans or dockers without pulling on the long johns underneath, but these jeans should keep me warm when the temp drops below 20F.  And with the weather gadget I'll know just when that is.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Black Friday Ride (There was Blood)

I have a few little bike related lists in the back of my head. Places to ride, bikes to buy, accessories bike related trips, wheeling and dealing, the usual bike obsession things.  This was my short list for Fall, before the snow gets too deep:

- Ride the trails off of High Drive.  How can you be a biker in Spokane and have never ridden the trails up there? I live on Spokane's North Side, but it's really just a short bike/car ride over there and I've been meaning to do it all last summer.
- Seek out the fabled Northwest Passage bike route.  It was going to be more of a Southwest Passage for me, starting on the North Side.  I've ridden the River trail a few times, but I was hazy on the rest of the route.
- Bike to Central Food, David Blaine's new restaurant in Kendall Yards.  We've been on the lookout for a good weekend breakfast place ever since the Top Notch on Monroe closed down a few years ago.
- get rid of some belly fat
- get some of the Scoop's Hot Buttered Rum mix. It's bike related.

I was able to cross 3 of these items off the list in one fell swoop on the day after Thanksgiving, thanks to John's (Cycling Spokane) Black Friday bike ride.  About 10 of us met at the Scoop around 8am and soon hit the trails.  The trails off High Drive are fun.  I got separated from the group at one point and took a wrong turn.  You think it would be easy to track a group of guys on mountain and cross bikes, and one guy on a fat bike, but no my tracking skills failed me.  Luckily Bill was with me and we managed to find our way to Hatch road - apparently no matter which trail you take, it's most likely you will end up there.  To get to Hatch, Bill and I may have had to climb over a gate between two houses into a housing development and this may or not have been trespassing.  There was no sign on the side of the locked gate we were looking at that said "Stay out" or "do not enter" so we figured it was ok.

Somewhere between the Scoop and Hatch, rolling along on my mountain bike, I did the old hit-the-front-brake-too-hard-when-the-front-tire-is-rolling-over-a-rock trick and the rear wheel lifted off the ground and I went tumbling off the bike.  Scraped my leg up:


Actually did this twice, same leg, for good measure.  I have trouble switching from usually riding a bike with canti brakes to bikes with disc brakes, and I have a tendency to hit the front disc brake a little too hard sometimes.  The hydraulic discs on my mountain bike definitely take an easier touch than I am used to. I think I will finally upgrade my blue Redline to disc brakes so I will be mostly riding one type of brake.

We all regrouped on the other side of Hwy 195 and took a trail off of White Road.  Luckily, I remembered to turn my Garmin on and have a map of where we went to help my memory.  A quick, short, vague description: From White we rode on some trails (sorry can't get much vaguer than that!), came across the Eagle Ridge development, went back across 195 and through Vinegar Flats, to High Bridge Park, regrouped at the parking lot at Peoples Park/Sandifur Bridge and there to the River Trail below Riverside Cemetery and the Mega Church, up Doomsday Hill and to West Central.  I think I'll be able to find the trails again, it'll be fun searching them out. Some really great trails and a great variety of terrain.

by Sandifur Bridge, heading for the River Trail
some of the bikes parked at Central Food

The Hub Stout at Central Food tasted great and went down easy even though it wasn't yet noon.  I didn't realize how close the Centennial Trail will be to Central Food - it will go right in front of the patio.  A great spot.

On Howard Street, heading back to the South Hill

It was a great ride with a great group.  I knocked off 3 of the items on my list. Don't think I actually got rid of any belly fat over Thanksgiving weekend, and we knew ahead of time that the Scoop would be closed so will make another trip for the hot buttered Rum Mix.




Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Maybe the last random cyclocross thoughts for this year

woo hoo I survived the last race of the season in Coeur d'Alene across from the Rep Cafe.  Maybe I broke the Curse of the Concertina! (knock on wood!)

Not sure what was up with me and my on/off attitude this year, just my usual neurotic self.  I am glad I did it.

The plan for this race was to go as fast as I could for the first lap and and keep Hank's bright yellow Elephant in sight.  Maybe that way I'd be able to put some distance between me and my main competitors for last place.

Right, that worked out real good.  I was still close behind Hank's group after the beginning straightway, but after the first turn they started to pull away from me and I struggled to keep up with one guy who was struggling to keep up with them.  At the end of the first lap I was dismayed to find that for all my effort, the guy in red was right on my heels, and the other 50+ year olds were getting out of reach.

Anyways, on the 3rd lap or so, my remounting technique failed me.  I'd been practicing slow motion mounts earlier in the season, and unfortunately during the race I was still mounting the bike in slow motion.  I practically came to a stop trying to hop back on the bike after running over the barriers, and Joel (the guy in red) sailed on past me.  I caught up and passed him on the back-forty straightway, but he zipped on by me the next time over the barriers.  After that, it was like the wind was knocked out of me, and my legs were gone.  I finished last, but had fun.

There's a race in Sandpoint on Dec. 22nd and proceeds benefit Team Autism 24/7.  If you're on Facebook, see the details on the Sandpoint Cyclocross page.  In the meantime, it's back to the usual mix of biking to work and mountain biking/trail riding when I can.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

the Curse of the Concertina

I used to be big into traditional Irish music and a few years ago I took up the Concertina.  Specifically the Anglo Concertina, a type of concertina that produces a different note on the push and the draw and is used by Irish musicians. It's a long story why the Anglo Concertina is common in Irish Music.  I forget the details but it involves low-priced concertinas first produced in Germany and later England, called German, Anglo-Germans or Anglo concertinas to distinguish them from the original English concertina (which has different mechanics), that found their way to the Irish rural musicians.  The whole exciting story is all here.

Anyways, in November 2010 I signed up to take classes in March 2011 at the Friday Harbor Irish Music week.

This was the result:

Eventually, after surgery and lots of physical therapy, the shoulder healed, but in the meantime I missed the music camp. The concertina sat unused for quite awhile, till I got the bug again and started playing it.  There's a summer music camp called the Swannanoa Gathering in Asheville, NC that has a Celtic Music week I've been lucky enough to attend a couple times, and I thought about attending this year and taking the concertina classes.

This was the result:


Ok, both of these broken bones happened while biking, but I think the real connection is they happened after I took up the concertina.  Now I'm afraid to play the darn thing, so it has sat unused since April.

Part of me wants to sell the concertina and put the proceeds into the Bike Fever Eradication Fund.  Another part wants to pick it up again.  This part scares me. Because you know what happened as soon as I thought about picking up the little squeeze box again? Right, I crashed on my way to the hardware store.

There was an Irish music camp held in Texas at the end of October, but I stayed home.

But yesterday, Friday, just before the last cyclocross race of the season on Sunday, I tempted fate and tried to play a few tunes on the concertina.  I'm a little nervous about tomorrow's race.


Friday, November 16, 2012

there will be no random cyclocross thoughts this week

well i had some, but they were random and fleeting and soon forgotten.  This year's Apple Cross at Walter's Orchard/Fruit Ranch was fun and frosty, and I came in 3rd from last which might be an improvement from last year.  I am getting to be a better rider, it's just hard to tell to the untrained eye.  Debbie came out with me and cheered me on.  I think it's a little tough for her to watch me race - she was there when my shoulder hit the frozen dirt at the Coeur d'Alene finals in 2010. Speaking of, there were a couple spots where I was a bit nervous because the terrain and the conditions reminded me of the corner I bit it on at that race.  But I survived, didn't crash, and managed to stay ahead of the guy in a red shirt who was threatening to catch up with me most of the race.  I think he's a faster racer than me in dry conditions as he beat me at Riverside, but I've got the edge in the wet, mud and snow.

Got home and hosed down the bike in the front yard as the back yard hose was filled with frozen water.  One more Sunday race and I can put the hoses away for the winter. I should wait as I think there's some more dirt riding in my future.  Who am I kidding, I'm getting lazy and the hoses will probably stay out all winter.  I should at least try to remember to turn the outside water off before it gets real cold.  Guess I was wrong, and this is Random Cyclocross Thoughts #4 2012 late edition.

Oh almost forgot, have 2 new possible recruits for next year - friend Trevor and his wife came out to watch and he got the bug. I sold my 19" screamin' deal Marin Muirwoods to him earlier this year (which was a mistake for me as my 17" is too small for me, but he got a great, needed bike).  My first few cross races were on my Marin Muirwoods (the 17" version) but I think we'll have to fit him up with a proper cross or mountain bike rig.   Also a guy from work, a bike commuter, drove out and caught the first race.  He's thinking about racing his mountain bike next year.

And then there's me, ol' wishy washy Charlie Brown, wondering if I will do 'cross next year.  I'm sure I will, it's just that September, October and November are prime trail riding season.  I'll just have to find a balance.

Unrelated note - the Dirty Kanza 200 has a 100 mile half-pint option next year.  I've discovered gravel roads this year, so.....

We came home with pumpkin and apple pies. Topped off with a hot buttered rum that evening, it was a great day.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Studs On

looks like the reflective sidewalls work!

Snow was in the forecast for last Friday and like many people in Spokane, I wait till the last minute to get my snow tires on.  I thought about dropping the bike off at Les Schwab Tires and see if they would put the studs on my Muirwoods (changing tires is one of those jobs I hate), but I ended up swapping out the tires myself Thursday evening.  The snow wasn't too bad Friday morning once I got down off the hill we live on, and mostly bare pavement, but the studs came in handy in a few slick spots.

Um, what's the bike doing inside in the to-go ordering area of a downtown chain eatery?  Well, my wife and I made plans for me to pick up dinner after work, and then she would swing by and give me, the bike, and dinner a ride home. But I didn't bring a lock with me - got tired of hauling that 30 lb. U-lock to work and back when I hardly ever need it, so left it at home that day.  Luckily they didn't mind me parking it inside. Or at least they didn't say so.  I tipped pretty good for an order to go.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

So embarrassing....

I rode my bike down to River Ridge Hardware this morning, to pick up some gate hinges.  The gate in the backyard was leaning all cockeyed and scraping on the ground when you pull it open. The hinges are bent.  I needed to to take the gate down and pound it back into some resemblance to square.

There I was on the Marin Muirwoods crossing Garland, had just stuck my right arm out to signal a turn. I braked a little with the front brake and turned into a section of the store's driveway that was maybe an inch above the street.  Apparently, I had the brake on stronger than I realized, as the front wheel stopped and didn't want to roll over the driveway lip.  The bike wobbled and was trying to decide if it should fall over or send me head over handlebar.  I think at this point I might have reflexively hit the rear brake which sealed the deal - the back wheel popped off the ground and me and the bike did a bit of a sideways cartwheel as I managed to get one foot on the ground.  Classic Wileydog slow motion crash.

As I got me and the bike up off the ground I looked in the doorway and saw nobody was there to appreciate my gymnastics, but there was a car at the intersection that probably did.  Nothing broken, just a little bit more of my pride gone.

I've done just about the same thing out on the trails as I did today on the street.  Around town I tend to use the front brake more, but I've noticed when trail riding I have to be careful when using the front brake.  I'll be rolling on rocky ground, or tree roots, and apply the front brake just a little too much and the front tire will come to a stop against the rock or root as I've applied too much pressure.

The plan today was to ride in the afternoon to Riverside or High Drive, but things took longer than expected.  We did get a walk in with the dogs on the Centennial trail near the Military Cemetery to Ft. Geo. Wright Drive.  These boys can't be denied.

let's go!!







Thursday, November 1, 2012

3rd random cyclocross thoughts - Walla Walla Sweet Edition

Guess I'm a little late with this, but here goes:

1. I've had a love/hate relationship with cyclocross this year.  I've had attitude and leg problems.  I was starting to think I would just specialize in bike commuting and leisurely trail riding, forget this racing business.  After skipping the races in Moscow, Sandpoint & Liberty Lake to R&R, I mustered up some motivation and headed to Walla Walla last weekend.  Almost didn't go, but I had reserved a hotel room, so I sorta had to.

2. On the way down Saturday, I was acutely aware that if I took a little detour to Ralston or Marengo, I could reach the John Wayne Pioneer Trail and reconnoiter the Cow Creek section.  The Columbia Plateau Trail was beckoning also.  But I decided I would continue on to Stanger Farm, and maybe check out the trails on Sunday instead of racing at Bennington Lake.

3. Man am I glad I raced Stanger Farm.  Before the race, I decided I would not worry how I finished and just take it easy, and ride for the fun of it.  But you can't just take it easy at the farm.  It's a great, fun course featuring 2 creek crossings and the world famous flyover.  I got what groove I have back.  Had a great time racing.  I even beat two others fair and square, not just because they had "mechanicals".

4. I finished dead last at Bennington Lake and am the proudest monkey ever to bear the DFL tag.  There were only 10 racers in the 50+ Masters, so I got 5 points.  I always end up with the measly 3 points for showing up, so 5 is something special, for me at least.  I had no legs on Sunday, and Bennington has a big elevation gain/loss, but I finished.  There's a great group of crossers out there who encouraged me around the course.

5. On one lap at Bennington as I rode on the long dike portion, (sorry, no pictures) I was passed by two riders, one of which was drafting off the other. Hey, that ain't fair!  On another lap, I got to the end of the dike thinking I was all alone, when suddenly I was passed by a fellow who gave me a hearty "good job!".  He might've been drafting behind me, but that's kinda hard to believe.

6.  All in all, I'm glad I showed up.  The Plateau and Pioneer Trails will have to wait.

A few pictures from the farm:





Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Flower delivery


Flowers survive the bike ride home in excellent condition.  This was just a small spray, but Boehm's downtown has wrapped up a vase and bouquet for me which made it safely home in a backpack, too.  Panniers might work better for larger bouquets, and if I need a really big bouquet, for whatever reason or occasion, there's always the BoB trailer.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

a little too color coordinated (rain gear)



Red helmet, red backpack cover, red jacket. I didn't plan this. Honest.  Bits of gear I bought at different times.  I don't even like red that much.  Sure.

Luckily I stowed my stow-able rain jacket in the pack Monday morning, because by the time I left work for home it was pouring.  But when I pulled out the bright red jacket, and then pulled out the bright red backpack cover, and looked at my red helmet, I said sheesh! this is too much.  

Not sure when was the last time rode in the rain it's been so long, but the ride from downtown to the Shadle area wasn't too bad.  Got caught without fenders on (just a rear rack), but what's a little tire spray when the clouds are emptying? Canvas shoes got soaked through and pants, too.  I didn't pack rain pants as I didn't want to bother with them - they're just a pain. But maybe I should carry them from now on.  

I happened to notice some snow pants at the Escape Outdoors store on Monday and wondered how they'd work for biking.  They had a red pair.  Hmm...


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Book larnin' - Be Unpredictable!

Nothing teaches like real world experience, but I've picked up a bit of biking instruction, good and bad, from reading.  This is an interesting bit from Grant Petersen's book "Just Ride":

"Be unpredictable."

Everybody says to be predictable when you're out riding on the streets.  Problem is, you can be as predictable as all get out, but that's still not going to stop a vehicle driver from pretending they don't see you and cutting you off or pulling out in front of you or giving you the ol' right hook.  Grant says, swerve a little bit, keep 'em guessing what you're doing, keep 'em on their toes.  Make them look out for you.  Of course, he says to keep this within reason - like when you're moving to the left lane to make at turn, you should probably stay predictable.

This bit of advice to be unpredictable makes me feel less bad when I accidentally swerve and look like I don't know how to ride a bike.  I'm just making drivers look out for me.  Maybe they'll give me a wider berth.

***disclaimer: I'm not advocating this is good advice.  I'll leave that up to you to decide. Remember, he says swerve a "little", not swerve into the other lane...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I Discover Counter-Steering!


Sometime last year I read in a book a description of counter-steering and it made no sense to me.  Something about leaning or steering one direction to go another.  I couldn't figure out what they meant.  So I filed it away.  I read the description again and suddenly it made sense, you just push/lean on the handlebars in the direction you want to go.   The bike leans over automatically and you turn.  But I wasn't sure why they called it counter steering - maybe because your body wanted to lean the other way and acted as a counter weight?  Anyways, I was having fun on my Marin and my newfound technique, gliding through the corners on my way to work.

It turns out all I did was discover that thing called "steering".

In Issue 17 of Bicycle Times there was another description of counter-steering in the Between the Lines column about moving hazards.  They described how to make a quick turn - "to go right, you first need to flick your handlebars to the left. This is known as counter-steering, and it causes your body weight to shift to the right.  As soon as that happens, steer sharply to the right".  Whoa, what?   Kinda shook my bikey world view.

So I gave it a try, practicing on my commute.  There are some 90 degree turns to and from work where I'm going slightly downhill and picking up speed.  I often end up taking these corners a bit wide, which isn't good if I drift on into the oncoming traffic lane while making a right turn or into the curb while turning left.  I don't need to steer too sharply on these corners, but after trying the real counter-steering a few times I started getting the idea. And whaddayou know, it works.



In issue 19, a Bicycle Times reader (also a motorcycle rider), wrote in to try to clarify counter steering, pointing out that it's more of a push on the handlebars.  But his description was also a bit confusing so I turned to Sheldon Brown and found his take on Counter-steering in his glossary here which I wish I'd read in the first place.  I'll just copy and paste for your reading convenience, since I know how busy you are:


"When a bicycle turns, it must lean into the direction of the turn so that the tilt of the bicycle and rider counterbalances the "centrifugal force" created by the act of turning.  In order to turn left, you start by turning the handlebars to the right for a moment. This moves the front wheel out to the right of the center of gravity, so the bike will start to fall to the left. This is immediately followed by turning the handlebars to the left to cause the bike to remain in balance, which also creates the desired left turn. "Countersteering" refers to the momentary motion of the handlebars in the opposite direction of the desired turn. usually, this is accomplished through the normal slight weave of the bicycle to maintain balance.

Some people, particularly motorcyclists, make a big deal out of this as if countersteering is some special advanced riding technique that you must learn to become an expert bike handler. It isn't. It's just a fancy sounding name for the normal process by which any two-wheeler (or even a unicycle) is controlled.

However, to be ready to swerve quickly out of danger, it is useful to practice quick, forced countersteering so as to initiate a turn as quickly as possible. The amount of countersteering needed decreases as speed increases, and practice will teach you how to approach the limit of traction without exceeding it and skidding out.  See also my article on braking and turning."


So it's nothing real fancy, just a normal way to turn a bike. I'm having fun with this newfound technique and don't use counter-steering for every turn, but find it comes in handy. Seem to do it unconsciously sometimes -  probably learned it as a kid, along with most every other biker.

Monday, October 15, 2012

2nd INNW CX race at Riverside - Random thoughts

1. I'm not sure if this is a good thing, but I was feeling some pride in and congratulating myself that my "getting lapped ability" is improving.  When an approaching rider says on your left, or on the inside, I didn't swerve over in the wrong direction.

2.  When the frontrunners start coming up from behind (or ahead of me, I guess), I start looking out and making room for them to pass.  I wish there was a better way to tell if the guy about to lap me is one of the leaders, or someone who is actually behind me in the standings and I should try to stay ahead of.

3. Maybe I was meant to be a downhill racer.  That downhill section returning from the wooded area is fun, and I could almost keep up with the lappers.

4. Some of those guys have some serious calf muscles.  Couldn't help but notice.

5.  I am actually better than last year.  Although it may be difficult to discern to the untrained eye.

6. The first lap is a killer.  I just can't seem to hang with the pack during the beginning sprint.

7.  Cross can be lonely sometimes.  During the first couple laps I was trying to stay ahead of a guy on my wheel.  He finally passed me, then I started catching back up with him.  Then he flatted, and I was all by myself without anybody nearby to race with.  That's when it's easy to slack off without realizing it because you don't have anybody to keep pace with.  I caught myself just tooling along, as if I was just going for a relaxing ride by myself.  But then the fear creeped in that there might be somebody back there gaining ground, and so it's back to pushing it.

8.  It's actually good when the leaders come up from behind - it picks me up a bit and makes me go faster.  Usually.

8. The last lap is a killer.

9. One of the worst things in cross is to be dead tired, starting on your last lap, only to realize the leaders are just 50 yards behind you on their last lap, and if they had caught up and passed you before the finish line, your race would've been over, too.  But no, you've got to do a whole nother lap.  Another crawl up the run-up.  I've been lucky so far this year and this hasn't happened to me.

10.  One of the best things is to go by the finish line and you see there's 3 laps to go.  Then next time you go by, there's only 1 lap to go.  What happened to that missing lap?

11.  I've been a little conflicted about cyclocross this year.  Sometimes I think what I really enjoy is to wander around on the trails in the woods, so why race? But I'm glad I do it.  I'm a bit of an introvert, so it gets me out.  And then there's the challenge of it. There's the satisfaction that comes from the improvements in my riding abilities, the little signs each week that I'm taking those corners better than I was last year.

12. I liked the course - Emde Sports and crew did a great job putting this race together.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Random Downtown Spokane Bikes - Thursday

I finally got a new mePhone last week (been without a cellphone since end of August) so I tried out the camera downtown yesterday.  BikePortland has a series of action shots of cyclists biking around Portland, and sometimes they get indignant cyclists writing in saying "how dare you post pictures of me without my permission!"  Now, I'm sure cyclists would love to be featured here, but yesterday I focused just on locked up stationary bikes.

This first one is at Soulful Soups and Spirits. 15% off if you ride your bike - might have to ride the one block there on my lunch. 




out front Riverpark Square

at the Library

out back Riverpark Square

Wall Street & Spokane Falls Blvd

Chase Bank


lunch was almost over before I realized I didn't get any Jimmy John's bikes.
This was parked between Jimmy John's and Thomas Hammers, so I'm not sure
if it is one of the delivery bikes


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

whoops, wrong trail!

I was riding back from Riverside State Park last weekend, and decided to take the trail home up to Merkel Sports Center. It's a little steep, but not too bad.  I was tired and thought it'd be quicker than going by Downriver Golf Course.

But halfway up, something didn't feel right.  The trail was supposed to be a gradual climb to the left up the side of the hill, but I was going straight up.  What? Somehow, I took the wrong trail and was heading up towards Fairmount Cemetery.
it's steeper than it looks, honest
Stopped and looked around, taking some time to appreciate the view. And to catch my breath. I got off my bike and walked up the rest of the way.

Today on my way home I stopped by to investigate where I went wrong.  This is the trail I took on Sunday.  One of the trails from Aubrey White Pkwy leads straight to this one.


This is the trail just a bit to the north that I should have taken:

I think I have it straight now.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

More Bike Stylin' (?)


These shoes were on clearance last year at Recycled Cycles.  Not sure why.
Work great, and the youngsters at work think they're cool.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Pasela TG's (aka Old Man Tires) flat again

For a few weeks I've been noticing more gravel and debris along the side of the streets.  I was glad to see the street sweepers were out cleaning a couple of the East-West streets I cross like Garland, but they haven't made it to the main streets I ride.  So somewhere along Broadway I felt that funny feeling - what, is my wheel loose and going to fall off? - soon I realized the back tire was dangerously low.  I made it to Riverfront Park before walking the last couple blocks in to work.  The culprit turned out to be a little crumbly piece of safety glass. These tires ride nice, but I'm not too impressed with their flat protection.  Maybe I just attract nails, glass and debris and need a bomb proof tire.

Panaracer T-Servs look like they might protect against flats better, but I'm not ready to shell out close to $50 bucks each for them (I want the ones with the reflective sidewalls, mostly for the look).  I don't really want to buy new tires, so I think I might try those tire liners.  Maybe that'll give me enough protection on the mean streets I ride on.

Speaking of gumwall tires, I got a laugh out of the guy over at All Hail the Black Market. He was trying some Bruce Gordon Rock 'n Road gumwall tires and said "They look like old man tires." (Towards the bottom of this post.)  Maybe that's why I like the Paselas.  Except for that flatting thing.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

DBL's - Daytime Biking Lights

I've often been commuting with my lights on in the daylight this past summer and I've noticed something: I see lots of drivers approach an intersection as if they're going to roll through it, do a double take, see my high-powered-disco-strobe-flashing-annoying-front light and then come to a complete stop.  Could be my imagination, but I think the lights make drivers notice this biker coming down the street more.  It could be the reverse - it's me who's noticing the drivers stopping more because I know I have the lights on.  They would've seen me and stopped anyway. I should probably do a proper scientific study.  Maybe somebody already has.  But in the meantime I think I'll keep riding with the lights on in the daylight.

Monday, September 24, 2012

1st Cyclocross race of the season - some random thoughts


1. Riding my bike out to Riverside for the race instead of driving didn't take too much out of me, in fact it may've helped my "racing".

2. I keep hoping every year that the old man 50+ race will be only 30 minutes long instead of 45.  But that's hardly worth coming out and racing for.

3. That woman I heard say 'he's got no technique" after I jumped over the 2nd barrier and tried to get back on my bike probably wasn't talking about me, but could have been.  It pretty much describes my mounting style. Fumble around a bit trying to find the pedal with my left foot, then swing the right leg over.  I gave up trying to do the jump over for now.

4. Either I'm getting better, or the race leaders are slower this year, as I didn't get lapped until their last lap (my 3rd or 4th lap, I lost track).

5. I don't know why I bring my Garmin, I never remember to start it at the start, or to hit the lap button.  It'd be nice to have some lap info so I could compare laps.

6. Luckily Hank asked me "are you racing this next race?" just before our race started.  I hand't seen anybody lining up yet, but that's because they moved the starting spot back from last year and I was looking in the wrong spot.  Made it to the start just in time, but the race official didn't have my name on the list, so I wonder which race I actually signed up for.  I thought I signed the Masters 40/50 race sheet but who knows.

6. I need to get better at riding fast on dirt.  Probably just need to get a few more races down as I haven't practiced with the cross bike on dirt too much this year.

7. The course seemed bumpier than the last two seasons.  Thinking of taking my mountain bike next time.

8. I didn't get laughed off the course for putting platform pedals on my real 'cross bike, a Redline Conquest Pro:

I was having a terrible time last year with toe overlap in the slow, twisty portions of the courses, partly due to my size 44 mtb shoes which seem about an inch too long for my 9 1/2 size feet.  Size 43 is too small for me, and I didn't have time to find some 9 1/2 shoes to experiment with so I thought hey why don't I use platforms? Dave at 2 Wheel transit had sold me some $20 Redline pedals for my mountain bike and they worked great, so I bought another set and put 'em on the cross bike.  They grip pretty good.  They look a little funny on the cross bike, but they worked great. No worrying about clipping and unclipping.  I'm just about completely over clipless pedals, too bad I have 3 pairs of the SPD compatible shoes.  These pedals are pretty wide so I might invest in a narrower pair now that I've found they work for 'cross.

9.  I didn't get laughed off the course for wearing those long knicker-manpri's over lycra bike shorts.

10. If I bought that nice Elephant single speed they had for sale at the race, I could race at 10:15am instead of 12:15 and get it over with.  Or I could ride both, cuz it'd be a shame to leave the Redline sitting around not racing.

11. I couldn't buy the Elephant cuz I biked to the race and didn't have anyway to get it home.

12. I don't really need a new bike.

13. Really.

14. The Salsa Vaya is still tempting me.

15. This is my 3rd year of cross.  Just like last year, I wake up early Sunday and wonder am I crazy for doing 'cross?  I'm old and slow, nowhere near competitive.  I'm not much of a racer. Blah blah blah. Maybe I'll just stay in bed.  Then I think Ok maybe I should do today's race and maybe a couple others.  I finally pull myself together and ride to the course.  I wake up a bit. This is going to be fun.  I'm hooked again.


Friday, September 21, 2012

54 YO Biker ISO Single Track

It was my birthday, early July afternoon, 95 degrees out. We'd ridden our bikes up at Palisades Park in the morning, but now I had to try out my new toy:



This was just the ride down the Merkel Trail to Riverside, I'll spare you the long slow ride back up. I think I'll take the camera off the wide angle setting, some of those scenes make me feel a little queasy, what with the bent trees and horizon. 

If you're still with me, down below is a bonus clip from a ride at Mt Spokane sometime in August.  I'd taken Trail 110 up to the intersection by the Mt Kit Carson Loop - holy crap! that's a workout! - and then wandered onto a trail that soon petered out.  I read an article recently about some landscape repair that had to be done to an illegal bike trail on the mountain, so from now on I'm going to stick on the real trails, if I can figure out which is which. Not too familiar with the trails up there.


By the way, if you have the Falcon Guide "Mountain Biking - Spokane & Coeur d'Alene" there might be a typo on Ride 23 Mt Spokane - Mt Kit Carson.  It says to take Trail 105 just past the park headquarters, but when I stopped to talk to a ranger there, he said well there's no trail 105 that I know of, but there's trail 110 there.  And so there was.  I got kinda a funny look from him, like "you're planning on riding up that trail?" but I ignored it.  Maybe I shoulda asked a few more questions, or read the guide book's description closer: "series of steep switchbacks", "continue climbing", "climb steep and winding".

Shoot, this is too funny, I just read the directions for the ride and looked at the map closer, and it turns out I rode it backwards from the book's directions. It says about trail 105 (110?) "you'll be coming back this way". Oh well, I was looking for a good workout, and would probably have gotten a good workout going the other direction, too.




video




Saturday, September 15, 2012

This really annoys me - truck on Broadway

I always hate it when a driver can't wait for a biker to clear the intersection, but turns into it as I'm in the intersection or just approaching it.  This has happened before on Broadway, but last time it was a police vehicle:



If you watch closely you can see this guy pull out into the intersection, and then slow down as he starts to turn.  I think he knew what he was doing.  When I caught up with him at the light at Monroe, I asked him "didn't you see me?". He said "Oh I thought you were over to the side more". Well, I was over a little bit more than usual.  Still, it's unnerving to have a large vehicle turn towards you or in your direction no matter where you are on the road.

He was in business type clothes.  I'm always surprised by the number of people who use those 1/2 or 3/4 ton trucks as their daily commuters.

P.S. That annoying clicking noise in the video is just a lack of grease in the head tube or steering tube or somewhere in that vicinity which has thankfully been corrected now.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Last Weekend Wrap-Up and then some

As another famous blogger says "Me! Me! It's all about me!"

ok this is getting to be like old news now and it's long and no pictures. You're just lucky if you're reading this whole thing through that I deleted this weeks' Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday rides:

Last Thursday - went on my very first ever Shop Ride, which was 2 Wheel Transit's last shop ride of the season.  We started out at their future location on South Perry and headed up Southeast Boulevard, to Regal and then I'm not sure where. I remember we turned left up Jamieson at one point.  There are some nice views up there. The group got split up after a bit, and so after awhile I just tried to stick with one group as we headed back down the South Hill.  It was a fun ride, about 15 miles for me, some had more or less depending on their route.  It was a good group to ride with, and there was a mix of road and 'cross bikes and a hybrid or two. I'm not sure if I'm big on riding in a large group, but it's a good way to get out of the house and meet some new people.  The great folks at 2WT fed us with pizza and gave us a tour of the new shop-in-progress afterwards.

I learned a lesson - Bike Commuting/riding tip #4.2aa - Carry extra batteries, stupid! Or a back-up light.  Yes, my front light died somewhere on the ride.  It was getting near dusk when it was time to ride home, so I walked over to the convenience store and found they had 4-5 pegs filled with AAA batteries, a few 9v and D batteries, but no AA's for sale. I headed towards home while it was still light out and stopped at a 7-11 on 2nd Ave and picked up a 4-pack of batteries. It was dark by the time I made it to NW Blvd.  Sure felt strange riding in the dark already this time of year, and gave me a preview of fall and winter riding.  I like riding in the dark for some strange reason, but it sure seems like the sun is setting way too early.

Friday - I forget. I must've ridden to work and taken the 7-Mile loop home. Getting a little predictable, but another good 20+ miles.

Saturday - took it easy.  Renewed my USA Cycling license and finally sent away to WSBA for my race numbers.  Looks like I'm really going to do 'cross again this year, there's no backing out now.   Worked up some energy in the evening and rode my blue Redline to downtown Spokane to watch the Twilight Crit.  A pretty cool event, I made it in time for the kids race which was fun to watch.  Then came the Masters 40/50+ and Women's race.  Holy Crap! am I glad I didn't sign up.  Those guys were booking it around the course, leaning into the corners.  The course was open to the public after the Masters/Womens race so I took one half-embarrassed lap around the course during the "Citizen's Ragtag Rally" as they called it (don't care for that name, but then I had nothing to do with putting on this great event so can't complain).  I started out without my helmet on - gasp! - and thought better of it. Didn't want any pictures getting back to the Mrs.

Sunday - oh let's see...oh yeah we rode down to do the 5th annual Spokefest. We thought about doing the 47 mile Four Mounds option but ended doing the 21 mile route.  Through mishap and maybe bad judgement on my part, the gears on the blue bike which had been running so smooth after its tuneup, are now rattling up front and refusing to go in the two lowest gears in back.* Took Spokefest fairly easy, except for one spot on the return section.  A guy in a team jersey with a noisy bike passed me on the right and this annoyed me for some reason.  Got my competitive juices going, so I hung with him for a bit and then passed him on a hill.  So there.  In a real race I doubt if I would've caught him.

My wife missed seeing BikeStyle Spokane at the vendor tents this year as she was hoping to find some new bike gloves.  I had a german sausage, beans and a sno-cone to fuel the ride home, so we broke our long standing 3 year tradition of stopping at Doyle's Ice Cream on the way home from Spokefest.

Sheesh, this is more like a bike diary, I'm a regular Samuel Pepys.

*I've discovered it's not a good idea to lock your 30 pound U-lock to a strangely shaped bike rack and your seat tube above your front derailer. The lock slid down below the derailer and twisted it around a bit. And also riding on an almost flat rear tire the last few blocks home can do some weird voodoo thing to your rear derailer. I managed to get the front derailer working without rattling against the chain last night, but still need to fiddle with the rear a bit more before I cave and take it in to the shop.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Nice River views along Aubrey White Parkway

..but I am sorta training for cyclocross.  I'm trying to get in shape, I'm serious, stop looking at the river canyon.  No time to stop and admire the view.  No time for picture taking (oh that's right I don't have a phone or camera with me anyway).  Stay focused.  Pedal hard.  Maybe this year you'll have some energy left after the first 'cross lap.

I'm lucky to be able to combine training rides with commuting home rides, because I have to force myself to train.  Training can take all the fun out of biking.

So I've been doing some variations of the 7-Mile loop on my way home from work. With a 30-pound U-lock in my backpack, I'm hoping to build some muscle and endurance.  I'd gone out a few times on Gov't Way to the Military Cemetery to hook up with the Centennial Trail and ride to 7 Mile, then back on Aubrey White and Downriver Drive.  I reversed it last week, and that's when I looked up from Aubrey White Pkwy and noticed the nice views to my left along the river.

I should probably extend the ride a bit out to 9-Mile.  Spokane has some nice rides.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Bike Fever - Oye Como Vaya

Since my Conquest Sport junior cyclocross bike came with disc mounts and hubs, not to mention the world's worst cantilever brakes, I've always thought of upgrading to disc brakes.  What would make it even better would be to put a 2X10 drivetrain on it like my real cyclocross bike has.  I'm pretty much over triple cranks, don't use the small one hardly ever, and with the Sram Apex you can get the bike set up with about the same range of gears with a double as a triple (or so they say).  For riding to work and back and around town, I might just prefer a single up front but there's those occasions like hauling up to 5-Mile or the South Hill or charity rides when I might need a wider gear range than a single would provide.

I've thought about going the custom route, but I don't feel I know enough about what I want or need in a bike frame so I've put that thought on hold.  I'm a little partial to Redline and they're coming out with the Conquest Disc with Shimano Tiagra 2 x 10 which caught my eye. (update: just saw the new Metro Classic with discs and triple crank). Then I was innocently looking at bikes on either Universal Cycles' or Salsa's website when I stumbled across the Salsa Vaya. Might've seen it before, but this time it jumped out at me.  Disc brakes, Sram Apex 2X10, nice bright orange paint - just what I want.  Plenty of room for tires & fenders. Perfect for town, city, gravel, road, dirt. Steel, so it might be a little heavy hauling up and down our stairs (I really need to get the second remote for our garage door opener working).  Too bad Bicycling magazine featured it in their Sept issue, now everybody will want one.

I did some calculating. Ok it'd be cheaper to upgrade the Sport but the impulse part of my brain says it'd be easier to just get the Vaya.  I think I could do some wheeling and dealing and come up with the do-re-mi. If I could find one to try. I did find one online in what might be my size on the other side of the continent, but should probably wait for the new models to come out. Salsa's website lists Steve's on Cannon as a dealer, I'll have to check with them.  I also read online from an old post that non-dealer bike shops can order them, but it's iffy what's available after the dealers place their orders.

But then I picked up my blue Redline from the shop after it was in for a tuneup, and boy it rides smooth. Really seems to fit me. A couple people have complimented the bike lately, too so I feel bad thinking of abandoning it or hanging it in the garage to ride occasionally. My new bike fever has gone down a bit, but I'm still anticipating/waiting to see what the 2013 Salsa lineup will bring. 

Shoot what's that? Surly is coming out with the Krampus, a 29er+ with 3" tires. Totally different direction, but wonder how that'd work...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Kendall Yards - Centennial Trail

One of the neat (did I just say neat?) things happening in Spokane is the plans by the developers of Kendall Yards to complete the section of the Centennial Trail from the Monroe Street Bridge to the Sandifur bridge.  I've been wondering if the trail will go under the bridge making it easy to cross Monroe so I rode there after work Monday to check it out. It does look like it will go under the bridge, but I should check with the Kendall Yards folks to find out for sure.  I've tried to cross Monroe there and it can take some patience.

They have the trail laid out and somewhat graded from Monroe to the intersection of Ohio and Falls Ave/Elm Street.  I'm not sure where they're going to put the trail for the section past Elm, if it'll be alongside Ohio Street or off to the side.

I like to think I'm comfortable riding on the street with traffic, but it'd be great to have a nice traffic free paved trail to take west to Summit Blvd sometimes.  I ride down Broadway to Summit on my way home sometimes,  and though it takes me a little further west than I need to go before turning up North to the Shadle area, it might be quicker than my usual routes home because I can ride for long stretches uninterrupted by stop signs or intersections.

My iPhone battery drained on the last camping trip and refuses to charge and sync back up (darn, just in time for iPhone 5), so I wasn't able to take any pictures.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

biking & lightning

Tuesday morning we had a good storm. Started out a few rain drops, then more. Thought it was just a teaser storm, but soon rain was falling hard. Wasn't too worried about it, seemed like it would pass pretty quickly... and then the thunder started. Real close. A few lightning flashes nearby. I started wondering, what are the chances of getting struck by lightning biking to work? I haven't had the best of luck this year.

Coincidentally, my usual bike-to-work blue Redline was in the shop for a tune-up, and due to be ready for pick-up Tuesday.  Instead of riding another bike in my stable, I decided to get a ride to work and walk to the shop after work to pick it up.  Did see quite a few bikes out and about Tuesday, so looks like a few braved the storm in the morning.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Williams Lake and environs

We went camping at Williams Lake south of Cheney last weekend. That Thursday (8/9/12) after work me and my bike got a ride out there. I know, I wimped out and didn't bike there, but we had a kayaking expedition with the Parks & Rec dept at 5pm I had to make. 

While my wife had to work Friday morning, and took the dogs with her, I of course got to go on a bike ride.  I'm not too familiar with the roads out there, but headed out going west-southish on Mullinix Rd with no particular destination in mind and soon came across this sign:


but instead of turning right on to Martin Rd, I continued on Mullinix Rd which was now a gravel road.  I was on my Redline Conquest Sport with 35mm Pasela tires - not really set up for trail riding, and I wanted to do some exploring. (Wait, now that I think about it, I did ride the Plateau trail on this bike last year, and on 32mm tires to boot.  But that was on the section between Fish Lake and Amber Lake. It's a slightly rocky section, but past Martin Rd the trail is full-bore railroad ballast.)

So I rode Mullinix to JW Henderson Rd to Belsby Rd. Not much traffic, which was nice, just a few farm trucks kicking up dust, one car. And one guy on a bike, wandering around the back roads.

What's funny, is I discovered by looking at Google maps and the atlas, if I had kept on Belsby Rd/Miller Rd and stayed on Belsby, I would've come across the John Wayne Trail near the north end of Rock Lake. But I turned around at Belsby and went back up to Mullinix Rd then went left on Reed Rd and followed it back up to Martin Rd. (I finally broke down and mapped it out on MapMy ride here. sheesh, I just checked the link and there's tons of ads and it makes you sign in or register to view full screen...).

At this point I thought I was past the Martin Rd trailhead, but I went left (west) on Martin anyways, went past a ranch and hunting guide place called Miller's something-or-other and came across a dirt/gravel road.  There was an old rusted bullet hole ridden mailbox there with the name of Falk on it.  I checked - no mail in it.  I took this road and then there it was, the Columbia Plateau trail.


Marker #1 on mapmyride

I could just barely make out somebody and a dog on the trail to the south, so I waited for a bit. What other fool is out here on a hot August morning?  But they were going the other way and they soon disappeared into the haze.

Ahead on the road was this sign that said Summer Road. It's open for only part of the year, but I thought that was the name of the road. So I'm not too quick sometimes.  I also thought I'd gone by a Summer Rd so I thought, good, this will take me back.  I had a general idea in which direction Williams Lake lay, and this seemed like it was heading that way.



This is the bike I was on:

And this is the road I was on now.  Is this is what they mean by underbiking?




I walked down one of these hills which was fairly steep as I have the world's worst cantilever brakes on this bike and I still haven't replaced them. After awhile I rode past a farmhouse (Marker #2 on map), some outbuildings and then came to another intersection. The road signs had 3 names on them: Falk, Harris and Scroggie (marker #3).  I turned around and read a sign facing the way I came from: Summer Road, 1 1/2 miles.  But I thought I was on Summer Road, how'd I get back on Falk?  There was a road that veered off by the farmhouse and then looked like it went a bit and then disappeared into the dirt, was that it? Ohhhh....that dirt section was only open during summer, not called Summer and I was always on Falk Rd.

Got a kick out of this sign, apparently there's enough bicyclists out here to warrant a warning sign:
on Harris Rd, I think
After a false start down Scroggie which seemed like it would head up towards Cheney, I turned down Harris Rd, and after going down it for a ways I started feeling like maybe I didn't really know where I was.  I could backtrack and find my way back to the lake, but didn't want to do that.  I wasn't too worried yet, I just wanted to be back before Debbie returned from work so she wouldn't wonder where I was. I figured I had at least a couple hours to find my way back before any alarms would be raised, but there's no cell reception at the lake. So I gave in to technology at an intersection with Pine Springs Rd and turned on my phone, which I brought along at the last minute. I've learned it's a good idea to carry a phone in case something goes wrong, like broken bone, stry dog bite, etc. Yea!, there's reception out here.  I was still heading in the general direction of Williams Lake, but was veering off to the north of it. I got my bearings and plotted a course back to the campground.

Pine Spring soon intersected the Plateau trail (near Amber Lake):

The Columbia Plateau trail,  just past Amber Lake (marker #4)
  

By taking Pine Springs Rd south, then turning right onto Woods Rd, I arrived back on Mullinix Rd and familiar ground.  I rolled into the campground with plenty of time to spare.  It was a good ride, about 27 miles in all.  These roads deserve some more exploring.




Wednesday, August 15, 2012

the Dreaded Sit-up Bike

Well, it happens. I'm over 50 with mostly gray hair.  So every once in awhile I'll walk into a shop and the bike shop guy (not many bike shop gals here) will decide I look like the perfect candidate for an old man bike: the sit-up bike.  Even if I've mostly shown interest in the mountain and 'cross bikes.  I'm still boycotting one local shop because after I told the guy I ride a combination of street and off-road and was looking for a similar bike for a friend in his 30's, he ignored what I just said and went into his sales pitch that ended up with us over at the sit-up bikes. Then both he and the owner/mgr dissed cyclocross.

I guess it could've been worse: he could've shown me a recumbent.

There are many sit up bike proponents out there.  Easier on your back they say. You can see better, having a wider angle of view. All good reasons.

But despite my age,  I don't want a sit-up bike.  I've seen people try to go uphill on them or try to ride fast.  No thanks.  I am able to see fine riding to work or around town on my flat bar hybrid Marin or cyclocross bikes.  No old man bike for me.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I guess I shouldn't take it personally.  They are a good option for many people, and not just for the over 50 crowd.  So maybe I shouldn't slam them as old man bikes.

What's funny is I did get passed once by a guy riding a sit-up bike while I was riding home near Audubon Park during my different week in January. That was sobering. But he was younger, maybe in his early 30's.  It did make me rethink them.  But I still don't want one.

Yet.

I can see myself someday channelling my grampa, who rode around Ephrata on one of those old 3 speed bikes, sitting up straight and wearing a fedora.