Sunday, December 30, 2012

Biking on thin ice

Today I thought the most biking I'd get in would be a couple blocks to get some coffee, which probably would've met the stringent requirements of the challenge.

But my wife sent me out the door and told me to get some miles in. So I obeyed. I told her I'd cross the TJ Meenach Bridge and check out the Centennial Trail to see if it was rideable.  In case I don't return by nightfall, she likes to know where I'm biking.  I took the road down from Downriver Golf Course planning on turning left on to Downriver Drive, but instead I turned right because I thought I'd first check out the Bowl and Pitcher area at Riverside State Park.  There were a few cars in the lot. Of course, then I had walk across the bridge there.

So I threw all caution to the wind and abandoned my planned ride.  Took the trail that leads up to the Centennial Trail from there and found it was mostly easy riding on the mountain bike. Crossed the Centennial Trail where it was a mixture of easy to stuck in the snow riding.  Mostly easy to follow the other bike tracks in the snow.

I tooled around for a bit on trails 212, 211 and 210 and a few others I came across; hit the Centennial a couple times and met a few people on it; made my way to the 7-Mile airstrip area.

There were a few puddles covered with a thin layer of ice and snow:

this would be the biking on thin ice part...not quite as dramatic as it sounds

One of the wider forest road style trails.  Although, it also looks a bit like the Centennial.

A few trails became unrideable on 29er tires or too much work after awhile so I headed back. About 17 miles total.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

TSB Club Challenge Day 6?

I think today is officially Day 6 (Saturday) of Tarik Saleh's Bike Club challenge, Day 4 for me since I skipped or missed the first two.

Debbie had a run near downtown today so the plan was to ride down and meet her there and then go out for breakfast at Dolly's with some friends.  I was moving real slow this morning but I finally got moving after about 4 cups of coffee.

Time to put the flannel lined jeans on:

Little snow is left on the main streets, so I got on a bike without studded tires - yea! - and headed down.  Stopped at REI to check out what was left at the used gear sale.  Saw a couple good deals on a Scott Sportster and a Raleigh cross bike that nobody had snapped up yet.

After the usual debate about where to go to breakfast - Dolly's, Franks, let's see, we were just at Central Food and also Alpine Bistro last week - we settled on Hogan's.  It's next to Trader Joe's and we're low on the 49cent Tuna for Cats and other essentials.  This is where I cheated - I didn't want everybody waiting for me while I tooled up the South Hill on my bike and probably getting lost, so I put the bike on the truck.  Good thing we still have the rack on it.  Not really cutting down on our carbon footprint, though, eh? We followed our friends to Joe's. They're from the South Hill and knew the quickest way to get there. Coming from the North Side it seems like you drive forever to get there, but it turns out it's not as far as I thought and could've ridden there without keeping everybody waiting long.

After breakfast & Trader Joe's I hopped on the bike and headed down the hill.  It did work out pretty good for me in that I biked down the South Hill instead of up it.

Stopped at Lincoln Park and tooled around the loop:

I meandered down the hill, took a few wrong turns and found the big staircase on Perry and a few other parts of the hill I hadn't seen before.

A couple good rides on a good bike.  Added just over 18 miles to the 27 commuting miles

Friday, December 28, 2012

Tarik Saleh Bike Club 100 mile bike challenge

You may have heard of the Tarik Saleh Bike Club 100 mile bike challenge:

"1. Just ride your bike 100 miles from 12/24-12/31 and you have achieved the challenge."
"2. Or just ride your bike every day from 12/24-12/31and you have achieved the challenge."

Hmmm, I might be able to make 100 miles, but I missed biking on the 24th and 25th (I know, hard to believe) so I have some catching up to do.  Biking to work and back will add up to about 36 miles so between now and 11:59pm Monday might be able to make it to 100. But if that fails, there's a 3rd part to the challenge:

"3. Or just try to ride your bike just a bit more than you might have otherwise and you have achieved it."

He will send you a bike club pin if you make the goal.

I like this Tariq.  Ok, I'm in.

And now for a little bit from today's ride:

I didn't want to deal with the snow and traffic on Alberta Street, so I've been riding down Nettleton on my way to work this week.  Wednesday and Thursday it was pretty rough, but the new snow tires handled it well.  Today most of the snow was gone, just a little icing left on the street.  As I looked down the street, though, I momentarily second guessed my choice of route. I thought, you know, Alberta is probably free of ice and snow now like the other arterials and less steep, so what am I doing over here?  

But it actually wasn't bad, and made it down safely.

This is a real crappy cell phone pic from starting out.  Next time need to get the gopro set up. Some days the only place studs are needed is to get off the hill on our block:

that's all. Hoping to get a non-snow-bike out for a ride tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

the Studded Tire Debate (new Marathon 50-622)

The Schwalbe Marathon Winter 700 X 35mm tires I bought last year sure work good on smooth snow and ice and fluffy snow, but leave something to be desired on mushy tire tracks and icy ruts.  The bike wants to follow the ruts instead of going where I want it to go.  Did some searching and saw the Nokian Hakkapelitta 240 700C X 40  studded tires -  they look like they'd grip better in adverse conditions, but might not be as smooth as the Marathons on bare pavement, which is a good chunk of my winter riding in Spokane.  My ride to and from work on any given day can run the whole gamut from deep fluffy snow to icy ruts to wet pavement. Then I saw some new 2 inch wide 29er Marathons (50-622/28 X 2.0). A little less knobby tread pattern than the Nokian.  So I went back and forth - would the Marathons be knobby enough to ride in all conditions?  Would the Nokians be too rough? Did I need to get a new pair? The 35mm ones should last a few more seasons.

So anyways, these Schwalbe Marathon Winter 50-622 tires arrived last Thursday - too late for that day's snow.  The dogs got them for me for Christmas, putting an end to my internal debate.  Thought about putting them on my mountain bike but want to keep it available for some possible January thaw riding like last winter, so I swapped them in on the Marin.  I swear, for an "urban" style bike, this ride has tons of clearance - almost looked like it could fit the new Surly 3" Knards.

Took a ride Saturday on bare pavement and immediately noticed a more sure-footed handling on the bike.  With the 35mm tires it felt like they were going to fall in some cracks in the road and the handling felt twitchy.  I think this bike is designed for wider, almost mountain bike size tires.  Today's ride to work had a little bit of everything - smooth pavement, flat ice, smooth snow, icy ruts, snow/ice piles - and these tires handled great.  Hoping we get some more snow so I can give them a good workout.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Latest Biking Accessories

I am such an old man. Flannel lined jeans and a weather station, both from Costco.

Last year I think I biked to work all winter in just jeans or dockers without pulling on the long johns underneath, but these jeans should keep me warm when the temp drops below 20F.  And with the weather gadget I'll know just when that is.