Wednesday, April 30, 2014

to Fred or not to Fred

that is not a question for me.

pant leg strap, check. Dockers, check. shoes I can walk in, check. bike with rack and fenders, bright light, check. Bern helmet (unseen), check. points off for the semi-athletic long sleeve.

I thought for a long time Fred meant a lycra clad Cat 3/4 racer out on the street with the latest carbon bike and wheels and little bike handling skills. That's the kind of Fred that BikeSnob NYC regularly makes fun of. But there are a couple other definitions of a Fred, and it looks like I am doing my best to embody one of the them.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Escure Ranch - Columbia Plateau/John Wayne Trails

I've seen the Escure Ranch mentioned in the paper a few times, and each time I read about it I think I need to look into it. 30 miles of non-motorized trails, an historic ranch, wildflowers, Towell Falls. Sounds interesting.

I finally searched and found the above map (pdf file here) - and it turns out I've already been there, or along the edge of it. Surprise! Escure Ranch is within the Rock Creek Recreation Area (BLM land) and the Columbia Plateau Trail follows along the western edge, while the John Wayne Pioneer Trail skirts the northern edge.

I remember seeing a trail off the CPT last year in this area and thought of taking it, partly to relieve the dead-straight monotony of sections of the CPT, but I was on a mission to see how far I could go in a day on the trail. This looks like an area that needs further exploration.  I'll have to look into the camping options.  I want to ride whole Columbia Plateau Trail this year, but the Escure Ranch area could be another long weekend bike trip.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Zoom Zoom - Talking to Traffic

It's something I try not to do when out biking, especially with spring here and drivers might have their windows down:  talking to traffic.
But I mostly mutter:
"Nice stop"
"a blinker would've been nice"
"oh come on!"
"hurry up"
"slow down"
When a car or truck with big tires speeds by and revs up their engine, this pops out of my mouth from the Mazda commercial:
"zoom zoom"
or as Shania Twain sang:
"that don't impress me much"

Friday, April 18, 2014

18/30 days of Biking it

so you might be aware of the worldwide 30 days of biking thing going on for the month of April. Look out, here comes a photo dump!

18 now 20 (I added couple 4/19) pics over 18 days, multiple pics from some days because I didn't take a pic every day, you'll have to trust me I haven't missed a day yet.

in no particular order, but I'll start with April 1, same day as the Ben Burr Trail ride:
April 1. 4th Ave Bike lane
the Merkel Trail 

bike to brunch 
I usually ride in the street here and skip the 2-way bike lane 

36 degrees out and refusing to wear a
jacket because it's spring dammit. 
coffee stop at Atticus to try to make up for all those times
I go to Starbucks because it's closer
found this sign after I locked my bike to a hand rail

I started a post about the no biking skateboarding sign,
then decided to let it go. (edit: add pic below)

at the doc's. for yet another post, this one re bike rack
 designers who haven't heard of the sheldon brown locking
 method (see also other rack pics above) 
attached a gopro to the rear rack. wasn't sure if I really
wanted to see what was behind me on my commute

looky there! 

went in for soup fixin's, came out with half the store 
potluck day - 
nice shadow

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

the Not-So-Beautiful-Bike

Bike porn it's called. The guy with the blog called prollynowradavist has a feature called Beautiful Bicycle - close-up photos of bike details, exquisite lugwork and such…snooze. There's also Lovely Bicycle. And the pristine bikes in the Bicycle Quarterly calendar.

That's alright. If you like that sort of thing.

I might be a little hard on bikes, so here's some close-up photos of my not so Beautiful Bike.

a little embarrassing, the aftermath of a crash. maybe
next weekend  I'll get around to re-taping the bars
the cables rubbed the paint off. working on a fix for this.

not sure how I got some chips on the fork. maybe from
leaning the bike against a short retaining wall with
the pedal on top to hold it, and the bike slipped. or
another crash.
That stark white paint patch is not so good. I decided to use it to protect the frame until I find a better match.
this was after it got washed
 bad cheap fender line:
yikes this is starting to bug me now that I look at it closer
The specs for the Vaya say it can has fender clearance for tires unto 38mm wide, but a guy on the Salsa forum at was able to fit SKS P50 fenders on his bike with the Clement X'Plor MSO 40mm tires. I think I'll give those a try as I don't think I'll be switching to narrower tires soon. The Clements have some miles left in them.

the so-called sternum crusher:
changed the height of the stem 20 times. finally think I've
decided on this heighth and maybe can cut the tube now
leaving room for a spacer.
the dirty pie plate:

can never remember which way the rules say the QR
lever should go

I can't believe I ride around in public like this. Maybe I can take it to an auto detailing place and they can clean it up.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Did you ride your bike to the library today?

Sometimes there are a lot of bikes parked outside at the downtown Library racks, so this is pretty handy. Too bad the library garage doesn't open til 10am, or I might park my bike there. I can park my bike inside at our office, but we're starting to run out of extra space in our office.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Ben Burr Trail

You all may have heard The Ben Burr Trail is going to be paved - see a January City report here and the latest from the City here. There's a pro and con over at OutThere Monthly Locking Horns, and a Cycling Spokane blog post about it.

We've always wanted to check out the Ben Burr, but living on the Northside never made it over.  Debbie and I were walking the dogs last week in the Perry Street district, and while overlooking Liberty Park we saw part of what we figured was the Ben Burr. So when I was in the area again last week, I did some exploring to experience the trail in its current gravel/dirt state.

mostly walked my bike down this trail at the end of 5th
to the Ben Burr
the entrance

the bridge over Altamont St.

saw a few other people that morning on the trail
a switchback off the main trail
down to Underhill Park

the trail ends at Hills Court
Hills Court intersects Thor Street running north/south, which didn't look bike friendly, but there is a sidewalk. From what I can make of the trail plans, I think it'll be routed up to 11th and Fiske instead. I'm not familiar enough with the area to know where or how you might bike to other areas on the South Hill from here.

I was struck once again how great it is to have these natural areas like this in the middle of or near Spokane. With my fondness for gravel and dirt, I liked the the trail as is. That's just my selfish perspective from someone who won't use it often. (Wait, will I be able to connect to Trader Joe's?)  I'm afraid by removing some trees and vegetation and paving it, the trail will lose some of its charm. But I can see the perhaps greater value in paving and connecting the trail to downtown and points south.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

"I saw a bicyclist do…"

This is an Us vs Them post. It didn't start out that way. It was just a little story I was telling to a co-worker that took an unexpected turn.

I stopped on Wall Street by one of the planters and took off my helmet like I usually do before going into work. I hooked the helmet around the handlebars before I remembered I needed to get some cash from the ATM at the bank nearby. So I hopped back on the bike and pedaled down Wall Street. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a white car coming behind me. I thought, great, another car driving on the "pedestrian mall" section of Wall Street. One of the little things that bugs me, especially in the block signed for transit only. (Don't get me started on the buses that zoom down the street.) Anyhow, I got to the end of the block and swung my leg off the bike to walk it on the sidewalk, when I saw that the white car was a police car. I panicked for a second thinking oh great he can ticket me for riding without a helmet on. But he drove on by, and I chuckled to myself - I guess they have more important things to do.

I relayed this to a buddy at work, a guy who once told me he's inclined not to ride because the city requires a helmet. The first thing he says isn't oh that's funny, but "I saw this bicyclist riding on the sidewalk... in front of some cars in a driveway…. shopping center blah..." I actually didn't hear just what this biker did, because I stopped listening after "I saw this bicyclist and he..".

It just so happened that I'd been waiting for someone to tell me another "I saw a bicyclist do something" story and I had a response. When I first started biking to work, I'd hear a lot of those comments. People would tell me they saw a biker go the wrong way, run a stop sign, etc. I usually didn't have a comeback ready because the comments would come out of the blue. Mainly, I wondered why are you telling me this? I don't go around telling drivers about all the motorists I see running stop signs, rolling through red lights, talking on the cell phone, speeding. If I did, I wouldn't get anything done. But I finally got tired of this, and developed a response - you tell me you saw a biker riding without lights on at night, I tell you I see drivers do that, too. I just hadn't got a chance to use this technique much.

So I just said Oh, I see motorists do crazy stuff all the time. He looked at me and tried to explain further why whatever this biker did was bad, but I didn't care. Poor guy was a victim of my new attitude. He talked to me later, and said, Scott, I'm afraid you got the wrong impression, I'm not against bikers. I brushed it off and tried to make nice.

I'm not really sure why non-bikers feel the need to tell bikers all the bad things they see bikers do. Not like I can do anything about it. But it's always aggravating because they don't also recognize the laws motorists break regularly.

I think what this boils down to is the "other" phenomenon. Things are more noticeable and aggravating when they're done by members of the other tribe.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

just missed

I kept hearing a clicking sound from the front of my bike and couldn't figure out where it was coming from.  It was the same speed as a piece of gravel stuck in the tread, but I couldn't find anything. It sounded more metallic but I couldn't find anything by the spokes.  It'd come and go. Finally one day I stopped on the way home and thought I better get to the bottom of it.

Searched the bike and found the sound was coming from the rear, not the front:

I can't believe I rode around like this for days. I picked up a staple somewhere and one end was hitting the chainstay every tire revolution. The other end must've just missed the tube or not punctured far enough in. I waited til I got home before removing it, just in case I managed to give myself a flat while pulling out the staple. My new philosophy towards flats is "you're gonna get them so don't sweat 'em", but I gotta admit I was relieved I didn't have to fix a flat.

My total guesstimate on the causes of flats on the streets of Spokane:

Staples: 58%
Screws: 42%
Nails:    12%
Thorns: 11%
Unexplained by natural causes therefore must be some mysterious flat force field: 13% (Einstein was rumored to be working on an all-encompassing unified flat field theory in his later years.)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Debbie and I walked by Steve's on Cannon Street a couple Sundays ago and saw a Raleigh Tandem on sale inside for well under $1,000. We've been talking about getting one for some time now, and looked at a few at the bike swap last year. I planned on stopping by Steve's after work last week but never made it in.

Flash forward to Friday night on our way to The Elk, and we look in the window again. There's a sign that says Steve's is closing and the last day is 3/28. What? So I make plans to stop in Saturday morning. Then we get home and realize the date is the 28th. Oh man I missed it!

I head down there anyway Saturday, and try the door shortly after 10am. It opens and I poke my head in - hello? There's Steve, and he says yes we're open today.

A short time later Steve and I wrangle the two-seater into the back of my short bed truck and Debbie and I are proud owners of a tandem.

Tried to remember all the advice we'd gotten about how to ride a tandem, checked online and found some conflicting info, and took it for a ride Sunday.  We started with me straddling the bike and the Rear Admiral seated, then me pushing off. After awhile we coordinated it well enough to both start out standing with one foot on a pedal and the other on the ground. A few wobbly starts, and no crashes or big arguments! Had fun, and we're thinking of taking it on vacation.

Of all the written and spoken advice we gathered, nobody mentioned an important rule: The Rear Admiral has veto power over the Captain's fashion choices, or lack thereof. I wasn't allowed to wear calf-length black grandpa socks with brown shorts.

p.s. I believe Steve is working on getting a new location.