Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Muirwoods Sporting Big Apples

Last year I was lazy and just left the studded tires on my Marin Muirwoods after winter.  Hung up the bike in the garage and forgot about it. But not this year.  Because once I got a longer seat post installed, the bike fit me better; and I had fun biking it to work.  It's a sporty and nimble bike, even with 2" wide studded tires on it. 

Studs have to be off by April 1st in Washington State. Maybe that just applies to motor vehicles, but just to be safe I switched them out Saturday.  Of course, as soon as I did that, snow was in the forecast for Monday.

Got me some Schwalbe Big Apples, 50-622. Some smooth, wide tires with built in suspension for rolling over city streets. Not supple. Heavy. The anti-BQ tire. Only $28 each.

Some or most of our residential streets that developed cracks in them were never filled with tar or repaired, and so just got wider.  I've been giving the tires a tryout riding to work the last few days and trying different tire pressures.  So far so good.  A nice comfortable ride.  A dream on the Centennial Trail.

The plan right now is for the Marin to be my grocery-getting, dog-hauling, bar-hopping-townie bike so I don't have to lock the Vaya up outside business establishments or the dog park. I was looking for a beater bike, but I'm going to put the Marin to more use instead.

I'll have to find a basket or front rack, and pull out an old rear rack for it. Of course, it'll also tow my BoB trailer just fine.

The longer seat post is nice and helps the bike fit me better, but it still could have more set back.  

One thing about the Marin - the steering is like going from a typical power steering vehicle to a rack and pinion so I have to be careful. Quick turning, even with Big Apples. I'm not sure why - I did some calculations and the trail is 68, flop is 20; I don't know what those numbers add up to, or what is in the geometry that makes it so.  Maybe it's just the wide handlebars, who knows.


Thursday, March 24, 2016

One Biking Rule

It seems many bicyclists have lots of rules for everybody to follow.  There's the infamous 80 some rules of the velominati; no matter if they're supposed to be serious on not, most of them should be broken as often as possible. Other examples abound.  I occasionally read one biking forum populated by hipsters turned randonneurs,  and discovered a couple of their rules: you should only use the drops when going uphill, and when fixing a flat you can't set your bike upside down, unless it's a BMX bike. Still trying to figure that one out.

Whoops. Not a bmx bike.

I used to get more irritated than I do now by things other bikers do that are frowned upon.  You know, things like weaving in and out of the parking lane.  Everybody knows you shouldn't do that.

Or other similar actions. One guy I used to see on Broadway by the Courthouse would stop in between the parking lane and the travel lane just before the crosswalk, look back for traffic, then cross the street when clear.  I'd just ride by and shake my head. Hello, there's a turn lane right there!

He might have been the same guy I passed on the Post Street Bridge (back when it was a two-way street) who did the same thing - I rode by and told him, I can't tell if you're turning or what.

Bicyclists can take the lane when preparing to make a left-turn.  Once on BikePortland someone mentioned they didn't feel safe if they had to stop while doing so with traffic coming up behind them.  Some disparaged them, and said they shouldn't be biking if they can't do that.

Well, sometimes I turn left here from Boone onto Elm.  Traffic after work heading west (towards the camera) can be busy, so I'll have to wait in the middle of the street for an opening to turn.  But you know what?  There's some traffic heading east, too and I don't like being stopped out in the open with speeding traffic coming up behind me.  I started to feel like that guy by the Courthouse.  So if traffic is heavy, I'll wait over in the parking lane until it clears.

(In other intersections and multi-lane streets, I'm a big fan of the box turn when it's tough to get over to the left lane or turn lane.)

These days, I'm more tolerant and understanding of bicyclers doing unorthodox maneuvers.  Go ahead and weave in and out of the parking lane, just be careful.  (Anyways, riding predictably isn't really what's going to keep one safe - riding defensively is.)

So, where was I - oh yeah I've narrowed all the bicycling rules and admonitions down to one:



It just makes me grumpy to be riding home on the Centennial Tail, or out on a weekend jaunt on the Fish Lake or Centennial, and have some bright strobe light heading towards me.  Not a big fan of super bright bike lights at night in the city anyway, but you don't need them on a MUP in daylight.

It's so embarrassing when I forget to turn off my light when entering Riverfront Park or the CT and I break my own rule.  I'll see that half-irritated/confused look on the faces of cyclists heading towards me and go Doh! Sorry!

If you're still with me, a Bonus grumpy grouch section:

I checked the velominati website to see how they spell velominati, and was immediately put off by the opening words of the 3/23/2016 post titled Window Shopping:

One of the great dichotomies of being a Cyclist is that of our commitment to suffering paired against our fastidious attention to our appearance. We sacrifice endlessly for the sake of our craft, suffering hours on end in horrendous weather 

Biking is mostly fun, I still don't get this it's all about suffering biz.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Society of 3 Speedos

Sorry about that title.

Recently I became proud member #148 of the Society of Three Speeds:

Shawn over at SoTS was having a sale on memberships because he was getting new membership kits together and the old ones had to go. And the membership price was going up, and cheap bastard that I am, I jumped on it.  One of the 3 club rules is to have a 3-speed, or to obtain one posthaste.  Luckily, the Spokane Bike Swap is coming up April 9, and there's also some spots in town where I can procure one.

If you haven't already, take a look at Shawn's other blog, Urban Adventure League.  I like its premise:
The Urban Adventure League hosts various events that explore the urban environment using feet, bicycles, public transit, and possibly other alternative forms of transport.  There's the great idea of urban bike Rambles. You may have also seen some of his comics in Bicycle Times.

Now to figure out where to hide another bike.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Gravel Grinding in downtown Spokane

Luckily I had on the proper tires - Clement X'Plor MSO 700 x 40.

The bricks on Wall Street have been torn up since last fall while the Urban Outfitters store is being built.  The building (not seen in the pic) encroaches into the roadway and I forget if the city gave up part of the right of way, or how it worked.  I'm interested to see how it will work once it's done - not sure if the transit and local access only (ha!) traffic will be one way or what.  Can probably find the plans at the city website.

I guess I'm not going to get a post in every day in March, but two in one week ain't bad!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

new 2016 Salsa Vaya

Nah, I didn't get one but I was tempted when I saw they have been updated with clearance for up to 700 x 50 tires  or 700 x 45 with fenders (the titanium model slightly less).  And they're purty, too.

I've been wondering if Salsa has plans to offer a 650b or 650b+ Fargoish bike; this year isn't the year, but they do have the 29+ Deadwood.

Anyways, I'm not in the market for a new bike.

At least for now.  Concertinas are expensive.

I had an idea - maybe I'll try to do a post every day in March.  I've always admired those Monday thru Friday bloggers like BSNYC and All Hail the Black Market. We'll see how it goes.  Doubtful if I can find enough things to say but I got a few idears.