Wednesday, March 27, 2013


I think I ran across this on All Hail the Black Market.
Just in case you're going to be near Burbank this weekend...

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Wall Street "Pedestrian Mall"

I may have complained before about all the vehicles driving on the brick-paved portion of Wall Street between Spokane Falls Blvd and Riverside Ave.  It's been called a Pedestrian Mall.  Eventually I resigned myself to the number of vehicles cutting through it in the morning to get to the River Park Square Garage or dropping off people for work.

I walk on this street almost daily during the work week, and it started bothering me again, the bus going up and down the street sometimes at an unsafe speed, the 20 mph speed limit, the cars disregarding the no turn signs or local access only signs, no entry except transit sign.  I understand the delivery trucks gotta use it.  But then it really started bothering me about the time I was on my bike, stopping at the light on Main and a car turned left onto Wall, cut the corner and headed straight for me. And kept heading straight for me.  I never have the GoPro hooked up when I need it.

This is what people see before they turn on to Wall:

This is what they do:

Maybe local access only doesn't mean what I think it does - that you can't use the street to get to another street.  But I wrote a letter to the city to see if they could perhaps enforce it, and suggesting the 20mph speed limit is a bit high, and perhaps the buses should slow down a bit, too. I'm half afraid they'll write back and tell me bikes aren't allowed on it, but I decided to take the chance.  Try telling the Jimmy Johns delivery bikers they can't use it.

So if you see a handmade sign there, saying No Access to the Parking Garage, I don't know anything about it.

Friday, March 15, 2013

the Ephrata Big Ride

wikipedia tells me Gran Fondo doesn't actually translate into "Big Ride".  It's close enough. Gran Fondo Ephrata just sounds a little too fancy for a ride out through the steppes and coulees and dryland and irrigated farming areas of Central Washington.

Anyways, I finished the ride last Sunday and am happy to report I did it ahead of the two unicyclists. After 5 hours of riding I was at mile 66 of the 79 mile ride, and I thought hey, I might finish under 6 hours.  But we ran into a headwind on the rollers of Road 23 NW and I slowed to a crawl.  The group ahead of me disappeared. The 4 miles on that road felt like 20.  But Road 23 turned into Sheep Canyon Rd, a fun all downhill fast ride towards the finish.  Not fast enough to get me in under 6 hours, but a great reward for all the hard work.  I think I placed well in the Masters 50+ Bike Commuter/Weekend Rambler category.

I stayed over Saturday night at my parents home at the south end of town, the house I grew up in.  Sunday morning I left a little after 8am, and rode the 2 miles to the other end of town at the High School starting point.  Temps were in the mid-30's, a little chilly and I was wearing 2 t-shirts, a long sleeve, and 3/4 gloves, but I was expecting it to warm up.  I was wrong about that.  The only time I felt very warm on the ride was when climbing the 3 Devils segment.

Once at the school I checked out the other bikes, of course.  There were a lot of road and cyclocross bikes, a couple mountain bikes and urban style bikes.  Riders had a variety of ways to carry gear for the 4-7+ hour ride - a couple backpacks, hydro-packs, back-of-the-jersey pockets, seat post mounted racks and saddlebags.  I had my new Revelate frame bag.  These type of rides are always a good excuse to buy new gear.

I went inside to register and get my bib number and t-shirt and promptly annoyed the register lady by asking if I could have #8 before realizing the numbers were already assigned alphabetically.  I was stuck with #2.

pic taken by sis Shelley

Here's Jake of Vicious Cycles at the start giving the traditional pre-race ride combination pep/safety/going-into-battle talk.  He's a tall guy.

Part of the assembled riders listening to the talk. I took off my long sleeve shirt before the start.  Thought I would end up taking off a t-shirt somewhere as a high of 50 was forecast. But it was a little chilly ride up the hill out of town.  We climbed from the starting elevation of 1250 ft to around 2700 feet (according to the garmin, at least) at the highest point in the brush steppes land of the Sagebrush Flats area.

The next shot is I think near the 17 mile mark on Baird Springs Rd, about 2600-2700 ft high.  I finally stopped to let myself take a picture, and a young guy I rode with earlier in the ride took this one.  This section of Baird Springs was smooth and nicely graveled.  It got a bit rougher closer to Hwy 28.  It also is a nice downhill section riding to Hwy 28, but all along you know it's going to be a long ride back up the 2nd half of the course.

An accidental shot of the road and the tip of new 5 Ten shoes:

Stuhlmiller Rd, looking back at the Columbia.

There's not much left of Stuhlmiller Rd in spots.  There was sand and even rocky single track.  I half expected a cyclocross style run-up.

On the Palisades Road, through Moses Coulee.  I didn't want to stop and take a picture as I was worried how late I would finish, but Moses Coulee is pretty impressive on the Coulee Scale of Awesomeness.  If I do this ride again, I'll let myself relax more.

Looking back at Moses Coulee.  Just after I put the camera away, a horde of  cyclists appeared, looking like the 4 horsemen of the Apocalypse, except there were 8-10 of them.  They passed me by quickly.

At around the 60 mile mark, the paved Palisades Rd ends near the Billingsley Ranch and it's onto the dirt climb up the 3 Devils.  The first climb is steep but short; the next climb is longer and the two riders ahead of me got off their bikes; I managed to keep pedaling.  The atlas says the road is now called Road 24 NW; it's about 12 miles of gradual up and down climbing from here to Sheep Canyon Rd.

Before the start of the race I thought I might want to do the Leavenworth Gran Fondo on June 23.  At the end, I thought I didn't need to. Maybe it was the cold, but my legs ached the whole way. Today I'm thinking well maybe...

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Last Winter Whine of the Season

"Aren't you cold?" "Sure must've been freezing on your way in today."

It was funny when it warmed up to the 30's in the morning and I was just thinking it felt good not to have to wear another layer and then I was asked these questions. Most people are just being friendly, but after a while I get tired of the comments.  Do skiers and snowboarders get asked this after every run down the mountain?

I try to be friendly and wave off the comments with a joke, or "felt good".  But seriously, you just have to dress for the weather.  And it does seem real cold outside to people who go from their house to the garage to the car to the parking garage to the skywalk to the office.

Maybe I just have a good internal heat machine, but I've found just a few layers - t-shirt, long sleeved lightweight pullover and light jacket is all that's needed when the temps are in the 30's. Depends on the moisture content in the air.  I'll pull on another  woolish long sleeve if needed and for temps in the 20's and teens.

There. I'm done, feel better.

Here's looking forward to summer.

"isn't it awful hot to be riding?"

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Bike-it List

In December I started compiling a list in my head of bike rides that I might want to do in the coming year. Well, shoot, 2 months have gone by already, time to get working on it!  These are mostly in the Inland NW, I'll have to work on another wish list for those rides out of the area.

- Gran Fondo Ephrata. An 80 mile excuse to visit my hometown, visit the folks, and get a Dusty's cheeseburger.  March 10th 9am.  I think I need a 7am start.

- Columbia Plateau Trail to the Tri-Cities. This might require a fat bike but Eric rode it on a mountain bike. I did a short excursion on it last year on a 29er, but it was rough.  It's an old railroad bed with the rails and ties removed, but all the railroad rock still there.  And apparently overgrown - when I mentioned it to Eric, his wife said "the one you needed a machete for?'

- The Full John Wayne Pioneer Trail ride across Washington State.

- Parts of the JWPT - Cow Creek, just the Eastern Half, the middle section, or the western half.

- A bike camping trip or two with Debbie.  Usually our camping trips require hot showers and a nearby 4-star restaurant so this will take a little planning.  I've scouted some spots along the Iron Horse State Park (aka the western part of the JWPT).  Debbie has shown some interest.

- The 55-at-55 Gravel Grinder.  I turn 55 this year, and this idea started to form in my head when I was out tooling around the back roads near Williams Lake last year.  55 miles is a little short for a gravel grinder so maybe it'll be 55 out and 55 back.  Early July.  Pulled Pork afterwards, if I can overcome an aversion I've been developing to big slabs of meat. Or a Clambake. And cold beer.

- explore more of the Old Milwaukee Road and old Northern Pacific Railroad (see Mullan, ID to Lookout Pass).

- ride the Trail #25 loop in Riverside State Park

- circumnavigate Spokane by bike.

- the usual mountain bike suspects - Beacon, Mount Spokane, Riverside.

- Quilomene?

- Or just try to ride my bike a bit more than I might have otherwise. (borrowed from Tarik Saleh)