Saturday, May 31, 2014

The difference between rolling through and blowing a stop sign

It seems like whenever I read or hear of a cyclist running a stop sign, it's almost always described as "blowing through the stop sign", which implies the biker was going fast and didn't slow down. I always wonder, well just how fast were they going? Did they really blow through the stop sign, or did they just slow down and roll through?

If I slow down, look both ways, don't see any traffic, then proceed through a signed intersection without stopping, I'm just rolling through the stop sign. Doing an Idaho stop, what we called a California stop when we were kids. Not exactly legal here in Washington State, but a common practice here by both bicyclists and motorized vehicle drivers alike.

I'm sure if a motorist or member of the media sees this, their description would be I blew through the stop sign.

That's the difference, it depends on your perspective.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Columbia Plateau Trail - Spokane to Ice Harbor Dam

Eric, Jayce, Andrew and I met last Sunday morning at the Spokane Fish Lake Trailhead off Gov't Way and hit the trail.  From Spokane we rode to the official CPT start on the outskirts of Cheney; we had 3 days to explore the trail.
Andrew, Jayce, Eric and Shorty
I wasn't much into bike-blogger-stop-&-take-pics mode, but still managed to take 80 some pics. Sometimes it's good to just ride and enjoy it.

After Martin Rd, between the pavement and the railroad rock
Before Lamont, there's a weedy, swampy section that I forgot to mention in our pre-ride meeting at the Shop. I brought a pair of old light shoes for the swamp, but it came up quicker than I remembered. Decided to plow on through and try not to put a foot down. Failed at that - got to the real tall, thick weeds and came to a slippery halt - aagh - plop! Stinky swamp mud gas all over one shoe. Jayce was the only member of our party that made it through without putting a foot down.
before the real weedy sections
After Lamont - a break after the ride through the swamp

Sunday night camp, just before McCall Rd
the John Wayne Pioneer Trail intersection. Its a little
over 19 miles from Martin Rd to here.
darn focus button 
My bike garmin died after this and my battery pack didn't charge it - it worked at home go figure - so I lost track of the miles. But if you're sharp, you'll notice there are mile markers along the trail and can use those and your math skills to figure out mileage.
all types of creatures on the trail
A mile or so before Benge, the Benge-Winona Rd passes over the trail.  Jayce found some owlings underneath the bridge and took some photos:

Andrew's derailleur got bent by more weeds in this section, and his bike was converted to single speed. It's handy to have a mechanic on the ride. We then got off the trail here and rode into Benge. (note: no store in Benge anymore).
old wooden water tank in Benge
Onward to Washtucna:
Cow Creek Trestle - I'm sure it's blocked and/or locked but
you might be able to climb down and hike-a-bike. But then
you need to ford Cow Creek and climb back up. Darn creek
foiled me again.  A spot to go back to and explore. 
the bar in Washtucna where I embarrassed the other riders
by ordering a Mike's Hard Cherry. hey the only choices were
Oly, Rainier, Bud in bottes or cans. or boxed wine. 
Single-speed fatbike through the weeds, railroad ballast, and hilly pavement wasn't cutting it, so Andrew got a ride from family to the Tri-Cities.
cows staring at us - wonder what they were thinking 

Tunnel 17 - we were warned by the bartender in Washtucna
it is haunted but we bravely entered. 

We found a great spot to camp in Devil's Canyon, high above the highway below.
Tues Morning  
Next morning got everything packed, hopped on the bike and discovered my back tire was flat (I never did the sealant thing). I think this was the 3rd flat tire for us. I pumped it up and rode on, hoping it was a slow leak. 

Tunnel 16
Snake River and Lower Monumental Dam 
Box Canyon Trestle - gated and locked. Dilemma time as
there didn't seem to be any way to hike across the canyon,
and heading down to the road might involve some

Wilson Canyon Trestle
We saw a couple more trestles ahead so climbed on down Wilson Canyon Trestle at Wallace Walker Rd and rode down to Burr Canyon Rd (Hwy 263 - it's Devil's Canyon Rd until this spot). Windust Park is right there and a good spot for water, which later I wished I'd taken advantage of.

Real Pelicans! 
We followed Burr Canyon Rd along the Snake River, then rode it up the Canyon to Pasco-Kahlotus Hwy. A lot of climbing which nearly did my legs in.  Then the P-K Hwy to Snake River Rd and a well deserved fast, fun downhill to the Snake River Trailhead.  (There is another primitive road called Neff-Jones Road that connects Burr Canyon and Snake River roads that looked like it involved a lot of climbing, too, but may be a shorter route.)

Snake River Trailhead up ahead!
All along this section it was bugging me, because I remembered reading a CPT report a couple years ago by somebody at crazyguyonabike and I was wondering what he did in this section with the blocked trestles.  I didn't read it again before the trip because I didn't realize we'd make it this far, so I gave myself a little kick in the butt when I got home and read it again. Columbia Plateau Trail by Matt RC - he took another abandoned railroad grade near Windust Park that is below the CPT and parallels it to the Snake River Trailhead. When I read it a couple years ago I didn't understand what he meant, but looking at google maps you can make out the other abandoned line.

Snake River Trailhead - 15 miles to go
yea! no more railroad ballast. The surface is similar to the
Cheney to Martin Rd section.
I crawled in the last 15 miles, low on water and no juice left in my legs. But it was some of the best trail conditions of the trip. The last few miles were a nice small gravel - too bad the wind was against us. Finally had to pump more air into my back tire, but made it all the way without fixing. Andrew came and picked us up, and we went to the Ice Harbor Brewery in Pasco for water, beer, and great food.
Andrew's van at the Ice Harbor Dam trailhead. A perfect fat
bike hauling machine.
 I had them drop me off on Broadway, then I rode home.

We talked about when we might be ready to ride the trail again. Two or three years maybe, or long enough to forget the worst sections.  But my memory is not what it used to be - the headwind we rode against most of the way is already fading. Who knows, maybe this fall I'll feel like heading back out.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Fat bike-packing set-up

In case you want to know what's in everything, as best as I can remember:

Salsa Anything Cages on fork: had my Jetboil, couple packs of food and one or two other items in stuff sack in one, sundry odd shaped items in the other (extra MSR gas can, Steripen, chicken/tuna salad snack packs, etc.).  Found these cages work best with round or soft items like bedrolls or clothes. Or wrap small items in towel or shirt. More on that later.

RackTime Topit Rack: REI Quarter Dome Tent, sleeping bag in compression sack and ThermaRest roll. I zip tied a spare fat tube to the underside of the rack, making good use of all that space between the tire and the rack.

Revelate Tangle frame bag: pump, tool kit, Leatherman, jerky, trail mix, first aid kit, etc. 

Revelate Pika saddle bag: Clothes and small items in stuff sack, rain jacket, battery pack, dehydro food, more jerky & trail mix. And extra crap. I attached the shoes instead to the saddle rails after awhile and cinched the Pika up better so it was higher off the back tire.

Water: Topeak Modula XL with 1.5L bottle held on to down tube with hose clamps (idea from B.C. biker Vik, see here and here).  Hey Surly, some cage mounts down here would be nice. Thought of getting another Modula for the down tube as it sits lower than a regular cage and sort of fits under the Tangle, but it conflicts with the seat tube cage.   1L bottle on top of down tube.  The top of the seat tube bottle juts into the Tangle bag, but is workable.  32 Oz. reserve bottle in right Anything Cage stuff sack. Also, Camelbak with 100 oz reservoir. I figure the more water, the better.

The bike handled great loaded like this.  Pleased with this set-up, and it will work great on my Fargo also.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

because this bike ain't heavy enough

That is maybe a 4 year old bottle of Slime, and I don't think it gets better with age.  I have heard bad things about Slime, and about putting sealant in tubes generally.  I'm not sure if I want to put more weight in the tires.  But if I do this, will get some fresh Stan's sealant or Orange Seal.  That should lessen the chance of flats out in the boondocks, at least until I convert the Neck Romancer to tubeless, which I can see me doing in a year or two. Or three.

Thinking about the heaviness of my fatbike reminds me when I showed my dad the Pugsley N/R. I was telling him it's a little heavy and how they make lighter aluminum frame and now carbon fatbikes. He's 92 years old and built like me, only less body fat (or I guess I'm built like him, only more fat). Was a mechanic and shop foreman by trade. He lifted the bike up off the ground by the top tube and declared "this bike's not heavy".  I remembered his statement later that day up on Beezley Hill as I lifted it over a 4-5 foot tall gate.

Maybe a few more ounces of sealant in the tires isn't going to make much difference.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Riverside State Park trails - google maps

Put this under the Trail 25 Obsession Files.

I've been thinking I need to make a gps track of Trail 25 out at Riverside. I have the paper map produced by the Inland Empire Back Country Horsemen, but I'd like an electronic file, too.

In the meantime I found the Riverside State Park Foundation home over at google sites. Under the Things to Do tab they have picks for various activities like Hiking and Bicycling.  These pages have small inset google maps with - waddya know - all the trails marked in purple!  The map is small and a little difficult to read, but there's a link (Click here to view in Google Maps) for a larger map.  Except when I do that it opens a map page with only the Centennial Trail marked in purple, and all the other trails are missing. Not sure what's up with that.

Then I checked out the Equestrian page where there's another inset map with the trails marked, this time in red.  And clicking on the view in Google Maps links to a map page with a single loop trail that looks suspiciously like - wait it is - Trail 25. And there's a KML file also.

Well, looks like my work is already done. I think I'll still make my own gps map of the Trail, maybe  marking all the Mile post signs as waypoints.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Scaring Motorists

Back in January, I mentioned how sometimes I feel bad when accidentally scaring walkers and joggers.  You know, you glide silently by them, passing with plenty of room but startling them. Oops, so sorry.

Every once in a while I give a motorist a scare just by riding along, minding my own business and following the rules of the road. A car starts to pull out or turn in front of me, but then suddenly I register on the driver's warning system.  I'm stopped at an intersection, and a car starts to cut the corner.  They're parked on the wrong side of the street, and they pull out when suddenly they see me heading straight for them. You can see the look of surprise on their faces, as they really didn't look before they turned or entered the roadway.

Just last night a guy drove through an uncontrolled intersection without looking or slowing down as I was approaching it.  It was only when he was in the middle of the intersection he decided to look my way.  He saw me and practically jumped.  Luckily, on a bike you have a wide field of vision and are (usually) going slower than motorized vehicles, so I saw him long before and was prepared.

I don't feel so bad about scaring motorists.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Racktime Top-it Front Rack

I picked up this Racktime Top-it rack last year. I needed a front rack for a quick trip and it was the first one I found in town (at REI). Thought it'd be a good spot to hold a sleeping bag, tent or other overnight gear.

The Top-it attaches to the mid-fork eyelets, and I was surprised by how high above the tire it sits. Have maybe a little bit of wheel flop, but the Vaya handles well with the rack on. The rack is sturdy, not very heavy and fairly easy to attach. The deck is maybe 10" long.

It sits way too high on me Pugsley N/R:

could be some camping in the near future...
I'm still able to fit a sleeping bag and tent on it, could lash some small stuff sacks on the sides.

I've been looking for a bag to go on top for town/commuting rides, and discovered there aren't a whole lot of top bags for front racks out there. Tons of trunk bags and handlebar bags, but not much specifically for front racks.  RackTime sells the Qubeit to go with the Top-it. They both use their Snap-it attachment system.

pic from
It looks huge and has a capacity of 18L or more, should carry a lot of beer or other refreshments.  But I'd still like the whole set-up more if it sat a little lower. I think my handlebar light would have trouble peaking over the Qubeit, so I would need to find a different spot for the light.

It could be a good bag for commuting/shopping/day tripping, but I don't know if I'll spend the dough for the Qubeit, or if I'd use it much. Another option is the Ortleib Trunk Bag that can use the same Snap-It system of the Racktime and has a smaller 8 liter capacity.

The Top-it will work for now, but I'm doing a little research for my next front rack, instead of buying the first one I found at the last minute.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

the Bottom Half of April

continuing on with the 30 days of biking in April:
the Fargo and Trail 25. At one point I thought I'd do the
whole 30 days on one bike - the Vaya - but blew it when
Riverside State Park called one fine Saturday. 
a trail guardian

Tin Can Alley
 Easter , not bike related.  Sunflowers in Ephrata.
They are a slightly different balsamroot from the Arrowleaf
Balsamroot common in Spokane
more Fargo. Behind Joe Albi stadium just a couple
miles from home
facing the other way from previous pic

Wall Street, ahem, Pedestrian Mall from the skywalk.
parking patrol was talking to the guy in the pickup
Ospreys on a very windy day
bollard down - it happens every couple weeks or so.
There's just enough room for my bike and single pannier.
Today I noticed it was back up and moved over a little.
as Hank said, looking like John Boehner
in disguise

tons of iris along the new section of the Centennial Trail.
I've been wondering what's the story behind these - 
emergency Saturday morning dog food run   
and breakfast for us - discovered a helmet can double
as a shopping basket.

wild weather for the Lilac Century. I only did the 50 mile
course, was glad I had my helmet on when it hailed. 
4/30/14. Mt Spokane summit from Summit Blvd. (if you
embiggen the pic you might be able to see the mountain)