Sunday, April 21, 2013

Martin Rd Trailhead to John Wayne Pioneer Trail

On Saturday I took off from the Martin Road Trailhead on the Columbia Plateau Trail to do some recon for my Wileydog 55 at 55 Ride I'm thinking of doing in July.  Specifically, I wanted to find the way down to the John Wayne trail, and try to make a loop of 55 miles. I did find the JWPT trail, but I only ended up going 42 miles.  On the way back there was a strong headwind so around Belsby and Mullinix Rd I took the most direct way back.  I can easily add on a few miles by starting at the Amber Lake Trailhead instead, and there are also some roundabout ways to get from the Belsby/Mullinix junction back to the Martin Rd trailhead.

Here's my Garmin map and details.  Lots and lots of photos below.

At the Martin Road Trailhead (which appears to be on Williams Lake Rd to my untrained eye).  I was tempted to bring the Pugsley, but this is the kind of ride that I got the Vaya for.

From the trailhead to Mullinix, it's about 6 miles:
 A little historical bit:

 Last summer I went right on Mullinix here, but this time I checked out the dirt Martin Rd:

Which led to Rock Lake Rd. It took me a minute or two to get my bearings here.  I wanted to stay off the pavement as much as possible, but after I figured out I could turn right here and reach Belsby I took Rock Lake Rd

On Belsby - the road to the right looked promising, but it was marked in an unofficial looking way as "no access".  There was a truck parked on it a little ways down, so I noted it for future exploration.

Lots more pics on Belsby, an up and down ride. Mostly down with some fun descents.

 Rock Creek, I believe:
I stayed on Belsby on the left here.  No more gravel, the sign warns.  As I discovered later, Hole in the Ground Rd on the right leads to the JWPT and a bridge over Pine Creek.

 The Garmin map calls this road on the right of Belsby (pic below) as still Belsby Rd but I'm not sure about that.  I went by this gate at first and a short distance past it is the stop sign pic at Belsby and Siegel; my atlas and google don't have a name for it.  I followed this road until it petered out near some trees and farm equipment.  It looked like there was a bit of a road/track to the left, and straight ahead there was a fence and an open gate but no road.  I think it actually continues on straight to connect with Hole in the Ground Rd, you just might have to hunt and peck to find the road in spots. I neglected to take a pic where I stopped and turned around on it.
 Turn around point at Belsby and Siegel:

I rode back up and took Hole in the Ground and reached the JWPT:

 Pine Creek just a few yards past the trail:

The ride back started out innocently enough with some more up and down climbing.  After I got back up to the more open country, the wind picked up and made it a bear of a ride.  One of those rides where you just put your head down and keep pedaling.  On the way down I was thinking I should've brought someone along; but if I had I think they would've been cursing me all the way back.  But I was glad I made it.  I was a little disappointed when I figured I wasn't going to make 55 miles.  Next time.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Threading the Needle

Part of my ride to work: from College St., right on Monroe to left on Bridge to cut over to Riverfront Park

North Monroe Street has the narrowest turn lanes in the known universe, so this can get a little unnerving when there's busy traffic going north and south.  A safe and sane way is probably to ditch Monroe and ride into the parking lot across the street (if it's not blocked by a line of cars as it is in this shot).  Another option is to cross one block north at Broadway, but it has one of those long red lights.   Sometimes I stay on Monroe and cross the bridge, especially if I have trouble getting over to the left lane, but it takes me a little out of my way.

(oh boy, youtube has found other videos to watch titled threading the needle. remind me not to use youtube again. although )

Monday, April 15, 2013

Another One Got Fat

(Sorry, see here for obscure 1963 bike safety film reference)

I promise to take that reflector off before the next ride on the trails.
But then it won't be street legal.

I got this the weekend before last and was finally able to get out and give it a good ride Saturday. I fearlessly headed out with only one tire lever and no tire sealant looking for my first flat.  As I rode down the street from our house to the Merkel Trail to Riverside State Park, I felt like I should be wearing one of those black army-style helmets the Harley guys wear.

The Merkel trail is loose and gravelly in spots, but holy cow, this beast held the trail and it was a blast rolling down the hill.  Out at Riverside I did notice it took a little more effort to get rolling sometimes, but once moving there's a lot of momentum to keep you going.  It was fun rolling over the rocky trail sections instead of trying to find a line in between the rocks or bumping the rim against the rocks.

Having just gotten the Vaya in December and now this, I feel like a real lucky dog.  Out on the trail I felt even luckier when I heard a loud crack! behind me.  Turned around and saw the top of a tree fell off and landed right where I just rode by.  That might've hurt.

the hills are alive...

I'd been thinking about a fat bike for awhile. There are quite a few different brands to choose from now, Surly, 9:Zero:7, Salsa, Fatback, On One and Origin and more.  I get stuck on bike brands, so of course I was interested in the Salsa Mukluk.  The 9:Zero:7 was a contender and I came close to deciding on it.  I hadn't even considered the Pugsley much with its steel and offset frame.

Then I read over at the MTBR forums that a guy was able to hook up his BoB trailer to his Pugsley.  Hmmm... So I started looking a little closer at them.  But Pugs (and also Mukluks) were in scarce supply.  Then suddenly a couple weeks ago Universal Cycles had a ton of standard Pugs available and I was hot to get the red one.  I checked around and a nearby shop had a large Neck Romancer available, their last one for the season.  I didn't think it was what I wanted, but I drove over to give it a try, and check out the sizing.  It has a Moonlander fork and wider rims than the standard Pugsley going for it in its favor.  The Necromancer only comes in black, which I wasn't too keen on.  But riding around in the rain in the dirt and sand by the bike shop, it grew on me.  The shop said they could deal on the price.  And you already know the rest of the story - it came home with me.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Vaya and a haircut, 2 bits

Just another picture of the Vaya, from a couple of weeks ago. Haircut time, and the first time I left the bike locked up all by its lonesome, unattended.  It took some courage on my part, but there wasn't enough room to bring it into the place of cheap and fast haircuts. I was able to keep an eye on it through the window while I waited for my turn at the swivel chair, but not during the actual hair cutting.

Had a little trouble reaching the lock around the frame and the handrail.

In other news, the Walmart/Mongoose $200 Oversized All Terrain Bike is causing a stir on the interwebs.

I don't know, I think I'm going to stick with one of the other brands, as I don't have the time, inclination, or ability to do all the mods other bike geeks are doing to it.  But for 200 bucks, how could you go wrong?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

the Quick Way Home

- a long post about the quickest way home.

For my most usual way home from work downtown, I take a bit of a meandering ride down Broadway or College, up Elm, across NW Blvd, cut over to Nettleton for a few blocks, then over to and around Audubon Park, past the elementary school, then C Street to Driscoll. It's an easy paced after work ride.

One of my alternate routes is through Riverfront Park, up Howard and Post Streets, to Garland and then Driscoll. It's a quick route because there's a bike lane on Howard and there are long stretches of unbroken straightaway riding with no uncontrolled intersections. You can keep a fast pace if you want.  There's no waiting for traffic to clear to cross NW Blvd, because you cross Indiana instead which has a stoplight. The streets are wide, and I can ride further away from the curb for better visibility.  But the streets are also busier and one has to stay alert.

There are a few intersections I don't like, Garland/Belt and Driscoll/A Street, where there's heavy right turn traffic when I'm going straight.  I find at these intersections it helps do do a lot of checking behind - turning my head and looking behind - to hopefully let drivers know of my intentions or make sure there's not someone about to pass me and then turn right in front of me.

Here's a ride-along, a little tour of North Spokane:

Howard Street just after Riverfront Park.  I have a list of intersections in my head where drivers are most likely to run the stop sign as I'm approaching, and this is one of them.

Howard Street and Boone. The bike lane is a little sketchy here and jumps around for the next few blocks as it disappears, then it's next to the curb, then it's to the left of the parking lane.

North Central High School, before Indiana

After Indiana. Not real fond of this section, as the parked cars block your view of cars crossing at the intersections, and vice versa.  Best to keep the speed down here.

The Post Street Hill.  It sure looks and feels steeper and longer in real life.

After reading about an off-road option up Post in Stine'sWorld-Stine'sWorld, I searched for a shortcut up to Garland and found instead a longcut.  Halfway up the hill, there's a switchback that cuts out about a block's length of Post and is about 4 times as long and just about as steep.  It gets you out of traffic, at least.

Back on Post.

After the above, there's a right turn, a left, and then left on to Garland. The intersections are incredibly bumpy and rough.  It's narrow, traffic is busy but slow, so I stick to the middle of the lane.  It almost feels like riding in a big city.  Luckily, I've read The Art of Urban Biking, by Robert Hurst.

another thing about Garland - there's some spots to stop and get an after work refreshment - milkshake, beer, caffeine, fancy cocktail. Or catch an early movie.

Just before the aforementioned Garland/Belt intersection.  I go straight, a lot of vehicles turn right to go up Belt.

Then it's straight past Alberta, taking Garland all the way to Driscoll.

 Driscoll - there's a lot of cars turning right onto A Street here, and it'd probably be best for me to do the same but I usually go straight to C Street.

Driscoll and C Street. Almost home.

I take this route when I need a change of scenery or want to ride faster.  Today I took my usual way home and it was a nice relaxing ride.  Now that it's staying light out longer, I'm looking forward to taking some other alternate routes home - like the River Trail to get some off-roading in.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Studs off

With the last day for studs to be legal in Washington State approaching, I Got the studs off my Marin Muirwoods on Saturday.  Luckily I didn't have to resort to the screwdriver to get them off, as the Marathons came off the rim easily with the plastic tire levers.  I've broken more than my fair share of tire levers trying to get tires off.

Since I had the bike out, Debbie wanted to ride it for our planned Easter ride.  I gave the bike a test ride to see if every thing was still in working order. As I rode it from our back yard to the front, I headed straight for the steps leading down to our driveway without thinking.  I startled myself when I realized what I was about to do, and said to myself  "what, you get some 5 Ten shoes and suddenly you think you're Danny Macaskil??"  So I thought better of it and walked the bike down.  Didn't want to spend the day at the ER.