Thursday, July 31, 2014

Bell Boy!

I picked up the Incredibell Omnibell:
- it has a stretchy band that fits 22mm-31.8mm handlebar widths and a moveable dinger. I was able to mount it out of the way on the stem and rotate the dinger to an easy to reach position. Incredibell also makes a couple headset mounted bells, but the shop didn't have any.

After a bike ride one Saturday morning I met my wife and her running group at a coffee spot. Before I could make a polite exit to ride home, the talk turned to bikers passing runners without announcing their presence on the Centennial and Fish Lake Trails. It's a bit of a sore point with them. A couple are bikers also so it wasn't all anti-bike. I mentioned how many walkers/runners take up the whole trail, and have earbuds on. Or move to the left when you say "left" or ring the bell. I'm not one to say something every time I pass runners, usually only when they need to move over so I have room to pass.

They see it differently.  A biker should say "on your left" or ring the bell every time they pass runners/walkers.  One of their friends was telling every biker that passed silently by, "you're supposed to say on your left".  To which she got flipped off by one biker. But do you really need to say something every time you're passing somebody? I guess that's the rule, but it gets old. They know they're on a multi-use path with bikers and should be expecting them to pass by.  That's how I see it when I'm walking on one of the trails. But Debbie said she's been startled by bikes passing by when she didn't realize any were near.

So I broke down and thought I'd give the bell another try. Haven't had much chance to use it yet - only been on the Centennial Trail a couple times this week, and I try to avoid it during busy times.  So far  I've forgotten to ring it when I've had the opportunity to use it as a warning or a "hello" to fellow bikers. Might have to go practice it by riding around Riverfront Park.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Rock Creek Rec. Area/Escure Ranch

I cheated and drove out to the Rock Creek Recreation Area last week - postponed a bike overnighter until September.  Maybe August depending on schedule and heat.  On the way down on Jordan Knott Rd passed by the Lamont Grain Growers silo near Revere where Pat, Eric and I re-filled our water bottles a couple years ago on the John Wayne Pioneer Trail. A good spot to remember there's a water hose there.

Here's the Garmin for my ride around Escure Ranch/Rock Creek Area and a separate one for the 3-mile trail from the parking lot to Towell Falls. I explored a couple roads/trails while out there.

Here's plenty of pics of the area: dry, dusty, cheatgrass, a little swampy, basalt - almost everything Eastern Washington has to offer. And hazy sky from the Central Washington fires.

just two other vehicles in the parking area - talked
to a guy who was camping at Williams Lake with
family and was getting away to try the fly fishing here
a little history
the road from parking area to the Ranch and bridge over
Rock Creek

map says this is George Knott Rd leading out from the

a little single track diversion which ed to the below
returned to the road, then veered off onto another road/trail
this could be the north end of Wall Lake.  you might be
able to see a deer and fawn in the left central portion.
they paid no attention to me
just as I arrived at the JWPT, this feller sauntered onto it
from McCall Rd. He didn't notice me, appeared to not
be doing very well
he stopped and looked back at me but I didn't register on
his radar until I said hey buddy and he ran back up
McCall. felt bad for making him run. That is the Columbia
Plateau Trail overpass in the background.
back at the ranch, trying to be artsy with the camera

this is probably for horses since it's by the corral. also
by the parking/picnic table area.  I also found a
spigot at the ranch but water wasn't on.
3 miles to the Towell Falls
road veers off to the left then climbs up a bit before
reaching the falls

When I got back to the parking lot the fisherman had left so I didn't find out if he had any luck. Haven't fished in years, but interested to find out if the fishing's any good here.  Would make a good addition to the bike camping food.

Will have to return to explore some of the other dry dusty trails.

Monday, July 21, 2014

biggest shiniest rack I could find

There're a few reasons why I've been wanting a different front rack.  The Racktime Topit is ok but the platform is narrow for my needs. The Orleib panniers were rubbing on the Salsa rack, so I switched to the backpack again. The backpack, though convenient, was bothering my back. And neither the backpack or panniers carry some bulky items very well.

So I went for broke and got the Velo Orange Porteur Rack. Or if you don't like the French word, call it a Freedom Rack. Or pizza rack, since at 14" x 11" it's a good size to carry pizza home (without the fence).

I look at the bike and go yikes that's huge and so shiny! Looks a little out of place, but maybe I just need to get used to it.  Maybe should've gone with the Soma rack which has a basic black option. Think also maybe should've been patient and ordered a 3-rail Cetma rack - something narrower than the Porteur racks, but wider than most other front racks. Second guessing.

It's a type of rack that works best with a low-trail bike, so they say, instead of the Vaya. It reminds me of that insurance commercial - "that's not how it works".

But whaddya know - it works for me.  For now, I'm bungee cording my backpack to the rack, and when I have the load balanced it handles pretty good.  Feels great to get the backpack off my back, especially in this heat.  I like the way the rear of the bike handles without weight back there - the bike is a little more zippy.  The front from handles a little differently - mostly I notice it when biking uphill it feels like I'm pushing a load which I guess is what I'm doing.

I'll see how this slightly expensive experiment goes. It might work out and I won't just have an item to add to the craigslist/bike swap list.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tubeless Fargo

On the Salsa forum over at I read one post that said the Continental Race Kings that came standard on the 2013 Fargo don't work well set-up tubeless, and another post that said pshaw, no problems.

So I gambled and bought the Stan's valve stems and sealant. Since I don't have a presta fitting thingamajig for my compressor, I went back to the Bike Hub downtown and had them set the bead for me. I was duly warned of a good chance of failure using the tubeless rims with non-tubeless tires, and they'd had disappointed customers.  I assured them I wasn't one of those guys.

The tires seemed to set up good in the shop and were holding air, with a few spots of sealant leaking out.  I took them home and had to air them back up a few times that day.  Left them over night and front tire was flat in the morning, but the rear was holding steady.  Pumped about a 1/2 oz. of sealant in the front and it held throughout the day.

This was all in prep for a 2-3 night trip this week down Belsby/Hole-in-theGround Road to the John Wayne trail then to Escure Ranch, but the heat wave got to me.  Maybe later this week.

Took the bike out to Riverside State Park on Monday for a test of the tubeless setup and to see if I could trust it to hold over a multi-day trip out in the boondocks.  Rode over all the worst Trail 25 has to offer - those rocky sections by the river, those rocky sections up in the hills, canyons, everywhere.  Waited to hear the dreaded burping, but nothing.  I think I felt a smoother ride. Worked fantastic and only lost a little bit of air - probably from checking the pressure.

Now I'm looking at those fatbike tires.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Hand Signals/Re-thinking the rear brake

oh boy, two-posts-in-one
When I started bike commuting I read up on the bike traffic laws and discovered the alternate right turn signal - extend your right arm outwards (RCW 46.61.758). Ditched the the awkward left arm bent at the elbow pronto.
handy card from Washington Bikes. didn't notice the
requirement for brakes that skid the wheel until now.
Some bikers who use the left arm for both signals route the front brake to the right handlebar and the rear brake to the left, so they'll always have the stronger brake available on the right when signaling.  Using the right arm signal means you can't use this setup, but I don't see that as a problem as I never really need to brake hard while signalling.

RCW 46.61.758 says "The hand signals required by this section shall be given before initiation of a turn".  So I usually brake a little if I have to, then throw out the arm, and return my hand to the handlebar for the turn.  Can brake with the opposite hand if needed to slow down during the signal.

Which leads me to re-thinking the rear brake. Since discovering the front brake is the more powerful one, I've been dutifully favoring it. In case of an emergency stop, I wanted it to be second nature to use the front brake.  Found out quickly on the rocky trails out at Riverside it's a different story mountain biking, but around town I apply more pressure with the left hand.

But a couple times I've crashed during a low-speed turn because I locked the front wheel.  Both of these happened on the Marin Muirwoods with it's cheaper disc brakes, so that could be part of the problem.  It got me worried every time I turned into a driveway or attempted a sharp turn.  I finally started using the rear brake more in these situations and re-gained my confidence.  I also re-learned the obvious - try braking before the turn, not during.

Since then, I've been using the rear brake more when I just need to feather back on the speed a little, as in approaching turns.  Sometimes it's just the rear brake, sometimes both. I've gotten better at  reflexively using either or both brakes when I need them.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Fargo + Topit

Thinking of doing a little 2-3 day bike camping trip on the Fargo, so I moved the Racktime Topit rack to it.  The Fargo fork is a little wider than the Vaya's so I had to pull on the rack legs a bit to spread them apart to fit the rack to the mid-fork mounts.  (They fit perfectly on the inside leg mounts on the Moonlander fork on the Pugs N/R.)  The mid-fork mounts are lower on the Fargo fork so had to bend the bracket for the fork crown hole mount until it is almost straight. Will see if I can get another bracket for when/if I move the rack back to the Pugs.

Next: tubeless? We'll see how that goes.  And maybe remove wheel decals.