Wednesday, December 7, 2016

well whaddya know, a new front rack

I've been looking for a front rack or basket for enhanced carrying capacity on my Marin Muirwoods.  Something not too cheap, not too expensive.  I thought about going the Wald Basket route, but just wasn't sure about the handlebar connections.  Seemed bulky.

Then a couple weeks ago I came across the new Blackburn Local Basket Front or Rear Rack.  I couldn't quite figure out online how big it was, but it has a carrying capacity of 45lbs.  "It's both height and width adjustable and disc-brake compatible to fit almost any road or mountain bike." So armed with the remainder of an Amazon gift card I received last Christmas (not a big Amazon shopper), I took a chance and ordered one.  Ended up paying about $30 for it, figured I couldn't go too wrong.

It arrived a few days ago, and it's bigger than I thought but a good size for hauling stuff. The bottom is 11 1/2" X 14 1/2", while the top spreads out to 13 X 16.  It's about 5 " tall.
still has the stickers on it! and look - a u-lock holder

It comes with 2 different sizes of P-clamps for attaching to rear seat stays, and 2 struts for attaching to the fork or seat stay:
hardware kit includes two eyelets that screw into the ends of
the struts, and swivel attachments for mounting on the rack

I was surprised it didn't come with a bracket for attaching to the fender/rack hole in the top of the fork.  You could probably work some bracket attachment up there. That left the only attachment points down at the fender mount/QR, and the braze-on on the fork which is pretty low on the Marin. The P-Clamps were too small for the fork, so I biked up to Home Depot to get a couple 1" P-Clamps.  Attached them higher up on the fork, and they fit perfectly.  I still have some fiddling with the mounts to do before I cut down the struts.  Due to the angle of the struts mounted to the fork, they point out a bit. It seems a little dangerous, kinda like a knight's lance.  Maybe I could put foam rubber balls on the ends, and use it to ward off dogs.

I haven't tried the rack with any weight on it yet.  The steering is so quick on the Marin, it'll be interesting to see how the bike handles with a load on the front.

I am 98% certain that the rack is secure on the bike, and it won't fall apart while bombing down Alberta  Street.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

What's Great about Spokane Biking

What I like about Spokane biking is that we have it all: Street, road, gravel, dirt trails, no-trails, and multi-use paths like the Fish Lake and Centennial Trails.  What's really great is I can ride to all these from my home in the Shadle/Audubon area, and I can ride all the varied surfaces in the same ride.

One Sunday in October, I started out on one of my usual routes - Dwight Merkel trail to Aubrey Wright to Bowl & Pitcher, Trail 25/100 to Houston Rd to Mission Rd.  But I needed to stop at REI, so instead of heading to Old Trails, I headed back towards town.  Well, first I had to loop around Deno and Mission twice due to to an incredibly faulty sense of direction.  Follow along here:   Sunday Bike Ride Version 8.9a.

well, shoot, this is kinda embarrassing, but I must've deleted all my pics from that day.  That just pretty much ruins the plan for this post, but I'll bravely carry on.

So here's a gravel pic from today:
we've got turkeys, too!
Here's a street pic from mid-Oct:

Ok, enough pics.

Today I headed out again.  From Mission I went up Euclid, thinking I'd take this route, except without the hike-a-bike-possibly-trespassing at the end of Jacobs Rd down to Garfield Rd.  I thought I'd find Garfield Rd, head to Nine Mile Falls or Deep Creek and come back home on the Centennial Trail.  I stopped at the Jacobs/Rambo Rd intersection to check google maps but the resolution wasn't good enough to see the roads.  I turned south on Rambo Rd thinking I'd find Garfield, but instead after a bit I found Euclid and turned on it.  It turned into a good climb.  It didn't dawn on me that I was just going up the same stretch of Euclid instead of down it until I passed a house with a '70 Ford Galaxie 500 in the yard.  It looked just like one I passed on the way in.  Everything looks different while climbing up instead of rolling downhill. I decided to head back home the same way, and not do a loop.  You can see the garmin map here: Sunday Bike Ride Version 8.9k. 

I think instead of turning south on Rambo Rd before Jacobs Rd deadends, I can ride this route: north on Rambo, east on Teepee, north on Craig, to Lincoln Rd, to Garfield Rd and 7-mile Rd and back to Riverside State Park territory.  Maybe next Sunday.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Small-Haul Photo Dump

in the meantime…

You know, this flat pizza/porter rack up front is handy for carrying things hard to fit in panniers, and items that need to sit up.  I wish there were some rear racks that came with a wider platform that also worked with panniers.  Might be some out there.

mmmm, dinner from Tortilla Union

clearance plants from river ridge hardware - did not get a
bumper crop

you say it's your birthday

then there's those items difficult to attach to front or rear racks:
studded tires for bike buddy at work who's interested in 
biking through the winter

what photo dump would be complete without a potluck picture?

love that tostitos bean dip

 I break out the BoB trailer sometimes:
raspberry bushes from Judy's Enchanted Garden - hoping to get 
some berries next year

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Rail to Trail: Spokane to Seattle and Halfway Back Prep

One summer's eve a long time ago, me and my Fargo headed to the Spokane Amtrak station for a trip to Seattle and then to the John Wayne Pioneer Trail.  But first I had to do some planning and packing, which in my case starts with getting out the plastic bin that holds all my bikepacking stuff, pulling items out and hazarding guesses if I'm going to need them or not.  How many freeze-dried food packs should bring vs how many will I actually use?  Bear spray, first aid kit, wipes, jetboil, coffee - all the essentials. Hammock - maybe not this time.  New Sawyer water filter contraption along with the SteriPen, Platypus Platy 70 oz flex bottles.  Need more chicken/tuna salad & cracker snacks, along with the usual turkey jerky and trail mix to survive on.

I was going to use my Velo-Orange front rack to hold the sleeping back and tent, but it didn't fit on the Fargo.  Its 29" mountain bike tires are too tall.  Next up was the Blackburn Top-It, but I remembered from experience on the Columbia Plateau Trail that it was a pain to securely tie the sleeping bag and tent crossways on it.  Next plan - Revelate harness.  I had a week to go, so I ordered one from Universal Cycles and it arrived from Portland in two days.

For the rear, I halfway hoped to use the Revelate Pika seat bag. But I also wanted to carry as much water as I could east of the Columbia River, so I opted for the rear rack and panniers.  From front to rear I was set: sleeping bag in harness, handlebar bag, Anything cages, frame bag, Topeak bottle holder under down tube, rear rack with tent on top, panniers to hold rain gear, clothes, food, empty Platypus etc. And a Camelbak.

I loaded most everything up and took the Fargo for a spin.  Rode great, perfect.

My only real worry regarding way finding was getting from Seattle to the Iron Horse State Park/JWPT Trailhead.  Debbie and I have ridden the I-90/Mountains to Sound trail from Bellevue/Factoria to Seattle and back, but there are a few gaps and tricky spots.  Then there's the matter of getting from Issaquah to the JWPT.  I was hoping to find a way south of I-90 after Issaquah, but that wasn't looking too promising.  It looked like I'd have to stay along the I-90 corridor to North Bend.

the JWPT is near the lower right hand edge

But through the wonders of the internet I found Chris Rhinehart's JWPT Seattle Start on Ride with GPS.  It follows the I-90 Trail, then connects to the other trails in King County - the Issaquah-Preston Trail, Preston-Snoqualmie Trail, Snoqalmie Ridge Trail and Snoqualmie Valley Trail.  I downloaded it to my phone, along with printing the cue sheet. Then our Internet went out and I stopped researching.  I figured with Chris' route and the King County pages torn out of my DeLorme Washington State Atlas, I'd be fine.


Saturday, October 22, 2016

Journey to Costco

I don't bike to Costco often, mostly due to laziness and because my BoB trailer isn't big enough for most Costco-sized trips. But occasionally if I need a few small items like this here iPaddy thing I'm typing on, I bike there. The trip illustrates some of the little difficulties or inconveniences of getting around a city like Spokane by bike.  You have to plan and think about just which way you want to take, more so than driving in a car.

Costco is only about 4 miles away and the route I took this time back in September started easy enough: head north on A Street to Rowan Ave. There's a roundabout at A and Wellesley to navigate, then A Street north up to Rowan is a 2-lane street with a yellow stripe down the middle.  Right on Rowan and the new bike lane. Mmmm, fresh pavement!

And then at Monroe Street there's that sign that's all too common: Bike Lane Ends. No real big deal though, because after Monroe, Rowan isn't a real busy street.

I continued on and turned left/North onto Wall Street, which is a bike route.

Well, even though it's a bit narrow of a street for a bike route, the southbound lane is wider for bikes.  Heading north there's not a whole lot of room, but I've never had any trouble with the motorized folks.  Another option is to take one of the parallel streets one block over that are quieter.

Next intersection to cross is busy 5-lane Francis Ave. If there's a line of stopped traffic at the light, options are to take the lane, filter up if you're adventurous, (lots of vehicles turning right on the red light) or use the sidewalk and crosswalk.  I usually get behind a vehicle.

Well look what's after the intersection - another bike lane!

Which goes for mile or so, and ends (surprise!) at the convergence of Wall Street and Monroe:

We're almost there!  Wall Street is a sometimes busy 4-lane and I'm tempted to hop on the sidewalk but I stick to the street.  It's not so busy that vehicles coming up behind you in the right lane can't move easily around you into the left lane.

At the bottom of the hill it's a right turn onto W Cascade Way and another bike lane pops up!

Which lasts until the turn into the access to Costco's parking lot, because we can't make it easy for bikes to cross Division.

Gotta be careful around all those Costco shoppers driving around intent on getting the closest spot to the door.  I made my way safely to the bike rack snuck in between a display car, pillar, and shopping carts. Locked it up and left plenty of room for other bikers.

Route finding through a mixture of busy streets, quiet residential streets, bike lanes that pop up and then end suddenly - that's biking in Spokane.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Loose Dog Tolerance

A few years ago I was bit by a dog while biking home. The dog took me by surprise and moved in on me pretty fast.  I didn't have any time for the usual avoidance tactics - turn around or away, hop off the bike and get it between me and the dog.  It just came in low with its head down and bit me on the lower leg.

After that, whenever I came across a loose dog in the street I'd turn around if I had time, or jump off the bike and use it as a shield.  If the dog owner was around, they'd think I was crazy.  After all, he's a friendly dog and has never bit anybody.  (Which is what they usually say just before their dog bites you.)

Over a year later, I was still skittish near loose dogs while biking.  Then one day I was biking at Palisades Park, heading towards a couple with a loose dog.  The dog didn't run up to me, and I rode  by them without incident.  After that I started to feel better when coming across dogs on the trail, but still wary. Some dogs just walked by at the side of their owners, others though would have to run up to me, and I'd either stop and let them sniff me, or try to keep riding by.  I'd still get irritated with the people who didn't have their dogs leashed, especially those who made no effort to call their dogs back, or would yell "oh she's friendly, she doesn't bite".

Then I became one of those dog owners. I take our dogs walking in the wooded area behind Joe Albi Stadium and next to the cemetery. Lots of folks do, some leashed but most not. It's a bit of an unofficial dog park. I kept them on a leash for a long time while walking out there. Then I starting letting them loose but leashing them as soon as I saw a biker, runners or other dogs.  Then I found our dogs got along with the other loose dogs and loved running free.  I became a bit more relaxed about it.  Then of course when I wasn't paying close enough attention, they ran up to a couple mountain bikers on a narrow trail. Now, they're not big dogs, but they can be wild and noisy. I could see somebody might crash trying to avoid them. The bikers weren't  concerned and I ran up and corralled them, said I'm sorry. I made sure I didn't say they don't bite!

I started becoming more tolerant of loose dogs.  Biking on the South Hill bluff trails earlier this year there were lots of loose dogs, and it was just part of the trail conditions. I just expect them on the trails there and at Riverside State Park now.  Not that they can't be or aren't a problem, and there is a leash law.

I'm more bothered by loose dogs on the Centennial Trail or city streets and only once this year I've been worried or frightened by dogs. There's a guy who frequently walks his 3 or 4 loose dogs by the Centennial Trail on his way down the ridge. Back in June I saw them up ahead and I attempted to take a side trail away from them. They spied me and came running after me.  I rode through the pack, yelling at the guy to get your fucking dogs off of me!

This brings me back to tactics. That time I chose to ride through them, instead of stopping and waiting for the owner to get their dogs, or use the bike as a shield. I have pepper spray in my bag but it's not easy to get to. But a year or so ago I read this blog post over at the Bike Shop Hub - Dealing With Dogs.  It's a good article and includes a Mark Twain story - always a plus. The writer's advice is:  ride towards the loose dog. Aim for the dog.

In the year or so since I'd read this, I never had the presence of mind to try it out. I was always too startled by the dogs when they came running towards me. Finally, last week on the Centennial Trail past Kendall Yards a dog came running up to me and I remembered - bike towards it, aim for the dog!  The dog got a confused look in its face, and stopped just in front of me. I wasn't sure what its reaction would be once I got close to it, but it just stood there. I had to brake so that I wouldn't run into it. Woo hop, it worked.  Then a couple days later who'd I see up ahead? That guy and his loose dogs. One came running up to me and I headed towards it. It stopped and went wtf?  As I rode by the guy he just gave me a sideways look. Probably hasn't had anybody try that on his dogs before.

So this is my new tactic on dogs that I'm not sure what they're going to do. If they're just walking next to their people or not coming towards me, I let them be. If they're running towards me and there's no way to avoid them, I'm aiming for them.  It may seem counterintuitive, and put you closer to the dog's teeth, but they're not expecting it. Seems to work for me.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

whaddya know, a new helmet

I'd been thinking for awhile about replacing my Lazer Armor helmet, seen here on the train to Seattle:

I'd lost the inside padding strip earlier this year  - it attached with small velcro tabs that didn't hold well - so it was a bit uncomfortable.  Also, the helmet doesn't come equipped with a visor and I don't like the feel and looks of a biking cap under a helmet (I know…). Even though I just bought it last year I was looking at new helmets, and the Bell Annex caught my eye. It's MIPS-Equipped and has a sliding vent to either let air in or keep the elements out.  Cool and dorky looking!

Little did I know that within two days of the above pic, the Lazer helmet would disappear.  I was riding the John Wayne Pioneer Trail with the helmet perched on the back of my bike like so:

(a nice little camping spot between Snoqualmie Falls and Snoqualmie -
I'll get to this story someday)
and somewhere between Lake Easton and the Hyak Trailhead, I lost it.  I figure I didn't get the helmet straps hooked around the tent straps, or I set it down to dig through my panniers for a snack and forgot to attach it back on the bike.

Well that worked out pretty good and now I was free to get a new helmet. (I do have a couple Bern helmets also but the summer liner/visor for one had worn out.  When went to order a replacement I found Bern had changed their sizing and didn't have a direct replacement to fit mine.  I ordered one anyway, but it turned out to be too tight.)

So I splurged and paid the $125 for the Annex.  I think I had a $20 REI card so that helped.

The little knob on the top slides the vent open and close.  The padding inside detaches if you want to let more air in.  The fit and feel of the Annex is much better than the Armor but the Armor is less expensive at $70.  The Annex is heavier but not too bad.  On days when the temperature is in the 90's, I don't think the vent really helps much but other days it does cool my head more.  When it's in the upper 90's I may tend to ride with just a hat on the way home anyway.  The visor is a little short and doesn't help much when the sun is at a lower angle.  Overall, I really like it.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Blog Posts! Blog Posts! We've got Blog Posts!

Unfortunately, they're all in my head:

Rail to Trail: Spokane to Seattle and half the way back.
What I've Learned from Jaywalkers and Jaywalking
Hold your Ground
The Incredible Smugness of Being a Year-round Bike Commuter
Spokane Street Department Papers: Crosswalk and Speed Limits
New Bike! (just kidding)
Supporting Your Local Bike Shops
Another (sub)Urban Trail ride home

And then I've got a couple events in mind:

Intergalactic End of Summer Ride Your Fatbike to Work Day
Downtown Commuter Coffeeneuring
Belsby Road to John Wayne Trail Ride

All of which will most likely not happen but you never know

Saturday, August 13, 2016

It's the Midnight Century!

Well, it was.  Last Saturday 11:59pm.  So here's the basic report, complete with nerdy bike details.

It was my toughest Midnight Century yet, and toughest ever bike ride.  I remembered there were hills on this course, but I forgot about all the hills in between the hills.

The Bike set-up:

After riding the Vaya last year, and enduring all those washboard gravel roads, I said I was going to ride my Fargo next time.  Well, the Vaya has been riding great lately - new chainring, chain, cassette, and front brake caliper, so I just had to take it.  And I hoped maybe the low pressure 42mm tubeless tires that I have on it now would smooth out the washboard a bit.

The Salsa rear rack was moved to the Fargo for my John Wayne Trail ride.  Without racks or fenders, and no more brake drag, the Vaya is downright zippy and the tires roll smoothly. The Velo-Orange front rack didn't fit the Fargo so it went back on the Vaya, but the bike still has zip to it.

This year I packed a Platypus 2-liter collapsible water bottle into the frame bag that I bought for the Fargo, instead of carrying the bladder on the back rack. Small bottle in the Revelate feed bag, larger 21 oz bottle on down tube, and 32 oz bottle below (a 48 oz bottle will fit the Topeak Modula cage, but hits the tires on this bike).  Camelbaks are handy, but I hate sucking out of those tubes and don't like to carry too much on my back.  No-bake cookies and misc bars in the handle bar bag.

One thing I miscalculated on was the hills.  The Fargo has the same 11-36 range in back but smaller rings in front.  There were some hills I was really struggling on where I wondered if the shop accidentally put on a 11-32 cassette in back, or larger small ring in front.  That's when I remembered the other reason to take the Fargo - lower gears.

Preparing for the ride:

The usual no-train-it's-too-hot-just-bike-commute training plan.  Oh, and I stopped taking baby aspirin a couple days before so I wouldn't bleed as quickly in case of a crash.  No Hawaiian shirt this time, but I thought it'd be funny to go ultra romancer and get a long hair and beard costume.  Maybe next year.

The Ride:

I headed out on the Centennial trail portion faster than last year, and started thinking I'd finish better. Ha! I tried the usual strategy - ride fast to Liberty Lake and then slog through the rest.  I was in a fairly fast group that broke up after a while with two ahead and more behind me and then I was on my own.  I seriously gave thought to just riding to the state line and then head back, making for a nice 45 mile late night ride.  But I kept going.

Heading out of Liberty Lake, I played leapfrog with a group of younger bikers.  They'd pass me on the hills, then stop for water or whatnot, then pass me on the hills again.  I started to get a bit of a complex watching them ride by multiple times when I was wondering where my legs were and was I missing a lower gear?  Eventually they stopped for water at the Archery and Feed the Sheep place and I never saw them again until the very end.

I felt proud of my route finding and gave myself a pat on the back as I took the left turn onto Idaho for the 2nd year in a row, instead of going on Mission.   But then I missed the left turn onto Linke.  My garmin started buzzing at me, but I thought I got back on course until I met the young guns going the other way and asking me if I'd seen Linke.  I looked at the garmin map and realized, shoot it was back the other way at that jog in the road.

I rode past Barker before Linke around the 39 mile mark, and wondered if it'd be any quicker home if I bailed there.  I knew it'd be flatter, at least.  But I kept pedaling.  No use turning around now.

Further down Linke I got thrown off when I came to Chapman and my garmin buzzed that I was off course.  I thought what, did I miss Belmont? and turned around.  I met a couple going the other way and they assured me Belmont was 4-5 miles further down Linke.  I made a mental note to mark down Chapman on the cue sheet when I got home.  Oh, look, it's already there - "Stay on Linke as it turns 90 degrees at Chapman Road".

I stuck with the couple for awhile, since we were biking about the same speed.  And because the last time I let a couple that I was biking with go ahead, I got terribly lost in Issaquah - more on that when I get around to my Iron Horse/John Wayne Pioneer story.

The couple took a break, and I arrived at the downhill Bruna Rd section.  It was fairly light out.  I remember the first year I did the MC, it was dark here with a group of riders bunched together at the top.  Ok, I am not going to get this done any faster than last year, and I began to suspect I was going slower.  But somewhere along the line I had decided it doesn't matter when I finish or how fast I was going.  I was just going to finish the darn thing.

Sometime after Bruna, I think.  There was lightning in the distance, and I stayed here for a bit trying to capture it.  Got it on the live photo, but no direct shot.

I don't remember seeing this sign clearly before - it's usually darker out.

Sunflower fields.

I saw the couple a few times, and eventually, and I mean way eventually, I made it to the Columbia Plateau Trail/Fish Lake Trail.  It was great to be on flat, smooth pavement.  Loved it.  I usually hate the last 15-20 miles because I just want to get to Spokane, but this time I enjoyed it.  Even thought I might make it in about the same time time last year around the 9:30 mark.

But as I got to the end of the Fish Lake Trail, I found I better high tail it if I was going to make it under 10 hours.  One more curvy, twisty climb up to the Centennial Trail, then a straight shot to Central Food. I figured I'd have to break the 15 mph speed limit to make it in.  My garmin had died a ways back, so I'm not sure but I don't think I was able to go faster than 15.  Just as I reached the walkway it was 10:58am, and when I looked at the time when I got to the sign-in sheet, it was 9:59.  So I used that time. Made it under 10 hours! woo hoo!  The I heard a voice behind me - "How'd you do?".  What? It was one of the lost tribe that I'd last seen by the archery place.  They were right behind me!  He said they took a few wrong turns.  I said yeah me too, and left out the fact I'm slower than mud.

I like riding at night, there's something about it I can't put into words.  So, I'll be back next year even though my legs ached almost the whole ride.  Maybe I'll look into one of those e-assist bikes.  There are no rules on the Midnight Century.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Best Bike Tool Ever!

The AWS-1: 4, 5, & 6mm hex set.  For years, I mean years, I've struggled with hex keys/allen wrenches.  Dropping them, trying to get some leverage with them.  Fiddling with the hex wrenches on multi-tools. Just plain frustration I tell you.  Park Tools came out with the AWS-1 thirty years ago, and I just finally bought me one.  It's the greatest!  Fits in the hand, good leverage. Now that I have one of these, who knows where it might lead - I think next up is a crank puller or cassette tool. Maybe both.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Summer JWP Trail Plan a.1: Columbia River

In my previous post from way back in June, Here's the Summer Bike JWP Trail Plan(s), I didn't mention Plan a.1: Bail-Out at the Columbia River if need be and get a ride home.  Well that was the winning option, or maybe a bit of self-fulfilling prophecy which is why I didn't want to bring it up.

if the rail ties weren't burned from the fire a year or two ago making it difficult or downright impossible and plain unsafe to haul a bike over this section of the Beverly Trestle, I would've been tempted to find a bolt cutter or angle grinder. 

When I was riding up a hill to the Army West Trailhead, my left pedal felt a little wonky.  I didn't notice anything on the long downhill ride through the Yakima Training Center, but it increasingly got worse biking on Huntzinger Road to Vantage.  I stopped and looked at the pedal, and it was all wobbly and barely hanging on to the crank arm.  I made it to Vantage, took the pedal off and found the arm threads were stripped.  I actually got the pedal back on tight, but it still didn't feel quite right and I knew it wouldn't be long before the pedal fell off.  I had just been thinking earlier in the day, you know, I might just make it to Spokane.  Me and the 9 liters of water I was carrying.

Tune in some day for the full Spokane to Seattle to Columbia story, including my tragicomedic epic way-finding from Issaquah to Snoqualmie, and a little thunder storm scaring me into a hotel in Ellensburg.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Here's the summer bike JWP Trail plan(s)

Plan a:

1. Bike down to Spokane train station in late night/early morning
2. box Fargo up
3. bike and I ride train to Seattle. 2:15am departure
4. in Seattle: unbox bike, then bike to John Wayne Pioneer Trail
5. bike to Spokane

Plan b:

1. Bike from Spokane via Fish Lake Trail > Columbia Plateau Trail > Belsby Road > JWPT to Columbia River
2. turn around and make a loop back to Spokane via other roads.

Plan a is winning out, that's why it's plan a.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Stay Cool This Summer for Only $1,594.50!

I get emails from Map My Ride every month or so.  I get a kick out of the articles like 5 Ways to Improve your Average Cycling Speed because they really don't apply to me.  This month's article by Marc Lindsay is 10 Must-Have Cycling Items for Summer.  That's the title in the email, the actual article title is 10 Must-Have Items of Summer Gear for Road Cyclists.

"While extended daylight hours can make the summer a great time to ride, keeping cool will be a challenge. Check out these 10 items that will help you enjoy the miles and beat the heat during the hottest, most humid days of the year."

Sidi Wire AirCarbon Shoes  $499
POC Octal AVIP  Helmet  $319
Castelli Free 9 Socks  $16
Exteondo Feather Bib Shorts  $168
Capo Torino SL Carbon Sleeveless Base Layer $89
Rapha Super Lightweight Jersey $140
Rudy Project Tralyx (sunglasses) $250
Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix $19.50
MiiR Growler $59
Giro Zero II gloves $35

There you go, all for only $1,594.50.  (Feel free to check my math.)  For 3 months, and then you're going to have to get 10 Must Have Cycling Items for Fall.  Shoot, I'm not sure if I've I've spent that much total on racks, bags and helmets over my biking career. Maybe.

I've got a sneaking suspicion that Map My Ride doesn't think you really need all these items but the idea is that some people will click on the links and maybe buy something.  Naahhh...

Thursday, June 9, 2016

City Hills #4 - 6: Houston Rd, Downriver Dr., Cedar/Hgh Drive

We got hills! Lots and lots in Spokane, some short, some long, steep, no-so-steep.  Many days I avoid them, but some days I go looking for them.

One of my favorites is Houston Rd.  It's easy to bike to from home, and it leads to other gravel roads like Euclid Rd (see Version 2: Trail 100/Houston Rd/Old Trails/Euclid/Trail 25 and more), paved roads, Palisades Park, and you can loop back to Riverside State Park (also see Version 1).

It starts out off Government Way at the same intersection for the Centennial Trail parking lot by the Military Cemetery.  Just about a mile long, its a good climb with the grade varying widely, topping out at 14% give or take.  It's a good workout.

Here's the garmin map for Houston Road

1.02 mi
341 ft
Elev Gain

A short but good climb is Downriver Drive, riding up past the golf course to Northwest Blvd.  If I remember right, the grade tops out steeper than Pettet Drive.  It's a good one to to take on the way home from work, maybe riding back down and up for some hillpeats. I've never actually done that, of course.

Here's the garmin for Downriver starting where Downriver Dr splits off with Aubrey White Parkway,   up to H Street just below NW Blvd.
0.52 mi 166 ft
Elev Gain               Distance

Living on the North Side, I don't get to High Drive often but it's like the granddaddy of Spokane Hills. Long and high with good views, more intimidating than it actually is.  Earlier this spring I tackled the whole thing, starting at 5th and Cedar.  Cedar leads to the start of High Drive, which conveniently ends at The Rocket Market on 43rd where you can re-fuel and re-charge.  Overall it's not a real steep climb, but I remember Cedar being a good workout.

Cedar Street/High Drive garmin
3.57 mi
452 ft
Elev Gain

This is What Happens When You're Not Trying to Get a Flat

My tubeless-tired Vaya is in the shop.  You may remember it's the bike I'd been hoping to run over a nail or thorn to test the tubeless tires.  No punctures that I know of yet.  So Tuesday I rode my wife's blue Redline Conquest Sport to work.  It just got a tune-up and I wanted to test the gears and brakes.  It has regular tubed tires.  The result:


This is like the worst flat I've had in a long time.  I'm not sure if even the tubeless tire would've sealed very well. I thought it was an eyelet screw and it was stuck in the tire so good that I couldn't pull it out with my fingers.  Had to use pliers; turns out it's a nail bent in the middle.

I got the flat on Ash Street, between Boone and Broadway where there's a lot of gravel.  I'm not sure if the sweeper missed these few blocks, or if it's just gravel spilling out from the alleys, but it's like this every year.  The rest of Ash/Maple has been sweeped.  Been meaning to call the city.

Looking closer at the Street Sweeping Status Map, Ash Street between Dean and Broadway Avenues isn't green, showing that it hasn't been swept.  This is after the left turns lanes that lead to the Maple Street Bridge.  I've suspected the sweeper's route takes them over the bridge instead of down to Broadway.

One thing good about this flat: it made me look closely at the rear tire while fixing it.  The sidewalls of the Pasela TG's are looking old, and there's not much tread left.  Getting near time to replace.  I searched for some smooth rolling tires and saw Panaracer has an updated version of the Pasela with a new puncture technology they call ProTite.  "ProTite is 25% strong than previous puncture materials and advanced technology for puncture protection . "  

I doubt any puncture protection would've stopped that nail.  I will probably end getting the Pasela ProTite. Or the T-Serv ProTite instead since I don't like the Pasela's tan sidewalls.  The T-serv comes in black, red or blue - maybe I should check and see what Debbie likes since it's her bike now.

Friday, June 3, 2016

oh umm…why yes that's a new bag

I am about to have my debit card taken away from me or frozen.  Seriously, I'm trying to hold down spending.  But there's always this quest to adjust the bike setup, and darn manufacturers are always coming out with new products.  The Chrome Kadet that I recently bought is a great little bag, but sometimes it's a little too little; some days it's tough to fit in it everything that I carry to and from work.

The Velo-Orange Porteur Bag has been out for a year or two.  I'd been thinking of getting it or the Chrome Front Rack Duffel Bag for a while (at REI here - don't see online now at Chrome).  The VO bag requires use of the fence that goes on their porter rack.  You'll see how I got around that; there are other ways.  It attaches using short non-adjustable straps to the sides of the rack.  The fence keeps it from sliding forward or back. I'd read a few generally positive reviews and didn't notice the short straps until I took it out of the box. 

The Chrome is a better design (doesn't require the fence as it attaches in 4 spots with adjustable straps), holds twice as much, is waterproof, and is only $2 more.  Free shipping from REI, $12 priority mail from VO.  So wait…why did I go with the VO bag? 
(edit 6/4/16: whoa holy cow! just searched online and found the Chrome for $74.99 at Sportique. Never heard of Sportique.)

I didn't think I needed as large of a bag as the Duffel, and to be honest, I thought it was more expensive so hadn't searched for it lately.  Had kinda forgot it.  The VO has an outside pocket in the rear which is nice; no pockets on the Duffel. VO is MUSA. Looks very well made.

The VO has daisy chains on the bottom for alternate attachmenting, so I picked up some buckles and straps.  The straps kept sliding through the buckles, so I got out Debbie's little hand-held Singer sewing machine and sewed one end of the strap.

Go ahead and laugh.  I gave up on the machine and managed to thread a needle and sewed up the other one by hand.  Way back in grade school a next door neighbor friend was into sewing, and we used to sew a few things together.  I mean this was when we weren't doing manly boyish things like playing army, indians and cowboys, jumping our Stingrays over dirt jumps, having rock fights (true story, I'll have to tell you about that some day). So it brought back some dim memories.  Anyway, here's the result:

I attach the back straps over and around the vertical posts of the rectangular doo-dad on the back of the rack.  This works pretty good and is easy to get on and off the rack.  I don't like the short, non-adjustable side straps as they squish the bag down, so maybe when the newness has worn off I'll do some cutting and sewing to attach some longer ones on there.  Might seek professional help for that. 

The bag holds about 20 liters which is usually enough in summer.  I can think of some items that will be easier to carry now - flowers, potluck dishes, take-out.  The bag includes a hand strap so when I bring home Mod or Verraci's pizza I can carry the bag like a messenger bag (except I just tried it this way today, and it kept swinging off my back around to the front).  And since the fence isn't on the rack, can easily strap on a pizza box.  

Now all I really need (or want) is a Wald or Topeak basket for my Marin Muirwoods grocery/dog hauler/rain and all-around fun bike.  At least they're inexpensive.  

Tune in next year when no doubt I'll be back to rear panniers, having solved my Orlieb/Salsa rear rack interference problem.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Quick Update on the Kenda Flintridge Pro's

I am very happy to report that the tubeless-ready Flintridges on non-tubeless rims haven't blown off while I'm biking 30mph down the Alberta Street or Post Street hills.  I took it pretty easy the first week or so, even turning into corners gingerly.  After a few rides I started having more confidence in them and now don't worry too much.

When inflated under 40 psi, they can feel a little squiggly on the street so I keep them in the lower range of 40-50 for street riding.  The sidewalls state inflate between 30 - 50 psi.

Here's a closeup:

They're a lot knobbier than they need to be, and at first the rolling resistance seemed higher than the Clement X'plor MSO's.  They roll better now on pavement, maybe because I've worn them down a bit and found the sweet spot for psi.  On dirt and gravel they are great, and a blast to ride.

I'm still curious what'll happen if, I mean when they get punctured by a nail, staple or glass, so I've been heading straight at glass on the road and riding through construction sites. No punctures yet, but I keep a couple CO2 cartridges and tube in my pack in case the tire deflates all the way and doesn't stay seated.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

This and That Photo Dump

attaching a seat to a post shouldn't be that complicated:
 Debbie's Tri bike was loaned out to someone who used a different seat. Still not sure how to put the pieces together.

Bringing home another Topeak rack for Debbie's commuter.

Flowers in Palisades Park

The River Trail below Government Way Housing Devo & MegaChurch of Bad Drivers.  The last time I rode this trail I thought you know I really don't like this trail anymore. Slippery, rocky and boulders in spots.  This time on my Fargo with lower tire pressure it was fun again.  I think I'm actually getting better at it.

A realter (oops i mean Realtor) placed their open house signs on the Centennial Trail.  Kinda startled me when I realized I was heading straight for one.  I took it upon myself to move them off the trail.  If there's a next time, I will go to the open house and politely tell the agent to keep the signs off the trail, or I will toss them over the cliff.

There was a terrible tragedy on the Division Street Bridge where a driver drove his rig onto the sidewalk and killed a bicyclist who was biking on the sidewalk.  A few yahoos in the comments section of the Spokesman Review made the usual comments, which I had to respond to, and took a snapshot of one before it got deleted.

I biked down to the Spokane Trump Appearance one Saturday. Didn't go inside. I was told to get a job, pay taxes (because if you're for Clinton or Sanders, you must be on welfare), and to get out of the country.  A lot of assumptions by the trump followers about us protesters. Also was told that Democrats believe in one party/one nation/one rule (or something like that), And that Obama created ISIS - when I tried to explain the real origins of IS, the guy told me to "know your history, dude".  And one young woman said, "so y'all believe in gay love" and we're going um we can't believe you just said that. She then said "you know what god did to Sodom and Gomorrah".  I said, um that really didn't happen, and she was flabbergasted.  I couldn't help myself, didn't mean to impugn her religion. I grew up in a mainline Protestant denomination in the 60's & 70's - we weren't taught to take the bible literally.  And I studied the Biblical document origins quite a bit when I was younger.  I loved it when she said we're against the 2nd amendment, and the young Sanders supporter next to me yelled out "Bernie's for the 2nd amendment!"

Another That same Saturday morning we biked 10 miles to go to breakfast a half mile away at Downriver Grill.  We found it's nice to have a short ride home after a big meal.:

Riding up Pettet Drive while it's closed to traffic.  When finished, there will be a trail up on the hill over to the left, and new pavement with bike/multi-use path on the street, all part of the Centennial Trail missing segment completion.

 New bike lanes and sidewalks on Rowan Ave.  When the whole Rowan project is complete, it'll be a nice bike ride most of the way to Trader Joe's on Division.

Somewhere up on 5-Mile Praire.  I think.

Our dogwood in bloom earlier this month.  I want to tear out more grass from the yard, but there's a bit of disagreement about how much.