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: