Sunday, September 10, 2017

San Antonio BCycle

Apparently, I never told you about our trip to San Antonio last year.  Debbie had a conference down there, and I tagged along for a few days. San Antonio is famous for its River Walk which is cool and all that, but Spokane has an actual river running through it (which we have tried to hide partly behind a behemoth Convention Center). Ok, got that little bit of civic rivalry out of the way.

Like Spokane, San Anton had a world's fair - the HemisFair '68 - and they got a Space Needle like structure out of the deal.  Gotta admit, better than our pavilion. San Antonio has better margaritas, which help with the heat and high humidity there in late September.  Oh yeah San Antonio has the Alamo. And nearby missions, which you can visit following the Mission Trail via hiking, biking, or <gasp> motorized vehicle.

The River Walk. Lots of good food and humidity. No swimming. 

Another thing San Antonio has is a bike share program called San Antonio BCycleBCycle is a company that runs bike share programs in quite a few cities in the US of A.  Here's a map of the cities they operate in - maybe they'd like to add Spokane to the list.

One day we walked over to the Alamo, where I checked out a bike station:

And the Alamo:

The next day we bought a 24 hour pass for $12 at a station close to our hotel and the Riverwalk. San Antonio's bike share is based on trips under an hour,  "Designed for short trips and quick adventures around town". After checking out a bike, you have to dock it again at another station (or the same) within 60 minutes, otherwise you're charged an extra $2.  We had handy maps of the system, and our plan was to ride to a couple of the 4 Missions on the Mission Trail.  It's about a 16 mile ride to visit all four. After coffee and breakfast, we started out on our not so quick adventure.

On the street to connect to the walk/bike path to the first mission

The bikes are clunkers, but fun to ride.  I fit my backpack in the basket up front.

On the Mission Reach section of the River Walk.  Once out of the city, the San Antonio river looks like a real river.

Here's where I should insert a picture of the first Mission we stopped at, Mission Concepcion.

Except I can't find any.  Maybe I backed them up to external drive and am too lazy to find them, or maybe I let Debbie do the Mission pic taking.  We docked our bikes, looked around, and undocked them using the same debit card we used to buy the pass.  Then we started on our way to Mission San Jose, a little mindful of our 60 minute window.  But it turns out we didn't need to worry, as we always made it to next BCycle station with time to spare.

After Mission San Jose I thought maybe we could turn around...but we couldn't just go that far and not see the other two missions.

The rest of the story: we made it to the other two missions, and ran out of water on the way back.  It was a very hot day, and we stopped at a park to refill our bottles.   Docked our bikes, couldn't get any water out of the water fountain.  Saw a little stray kitten I wanted to take home, but that wasn't happening.  

Went to undock the bikes, and my card didn't quite slide in right.  Couldn't undock the bikes. Looked at the bus schedule, couldn't figure it out.  I called BCycle and in short order they sent a van over with some water.  After fiddling with the card reader for a bit, he was able to open up the docks and get bikes out for us.  He said sometimes people put gum in the slots or other stuff, but this one he wasn't sure why it wasn't working.  Good quick response for us dehydrated tourists.  Back on the road, there was another station within a few blocks we could've walked to if we had to.  We made it back to town, and stopped in a little coffee shop that had the best lemonade.

Since we didn't rent a car during our visit, the BCycle was a great way to get around and see more of the city than we would've on foot.  We told a husband of one of Debbie's co-wprkers who was also along, and the next day he got a pass and went all over town.

Back in Spokane, the city has an $80,000 federal grant to study and design a system (see Spokesman-Review article).  There's talk of starting with stations downtown in Riverfront Park and Kendall Yards. Being a downtown office worker, I'd like this.  I walk over to Kendall Yards sometimes for lunch, and this would be a quicker and easy way to get there, without having to haul my bike down from the office.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Fargo Rival 27.5+

It's Sprootz' fault.
I haven't seen hide nor tail of him for a year or two now, but he's getting the blame. Or credit.

Way back when, Surly introduced the Krampus. A flat bar machine with 3" tires. I'm not sure if it was the first of its kind, but it caught my eye. In between a fatbike and a mountain bike, it looks like it might even be good on snow. Fast forward a few years, and there are tons of plus bikes. I've been eying the Salsa Rival since it was introduced last year. 1 x 11s drivetrain, 27.5+ tires.  The fever waxed and waned, I wasn't really needing or wanting another bike. I did figure I have a couple bikes I can sell so I'll end up with less bikes. Then I got all mr.-money-mustache and decided I didn't really need a new bike.

Sometime in spring I started looking at the bike more seriously and a shop in town had a large Fargo 29er that I sat on but didn't test ride. It actually didn't feel too big - I think the geometry changed or it might've been the Woodchipper 2 bars - but I wanted to find a medium. I mentioned the 27.5+ and asked if they'd be getting any more Fargos in, and he said oh yeah. REI had some available online and at certain select stores but I was hoping to get one at a LBS.

Then the mediums disappeared from REI online and I panicked. I couldn't find one at any Salsa dealers in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, or Montana. What? I just decided I'd go for it and they disappear. Universal Cycles in Portland, Ore. said they wouldn't get anymore. Salsa said they were out till the 2018 models. Well, maybe I can wait and there'll be a better-to-my-liking color scheme.

I emailed REI and asked them about the mediums. Their rep replied they did actually have some in select stores, and the closest one to me is in Bend.  He suggested I check with them first before driving down, which I did and it's a good thing because the medium they had was still in a box.  They said they'd build it up, and I drove down the next weekend.

I test-rode it, and the sizing felt good. The only thing I was concerned about was in very tight turns my knees might hit the ends of the handlebars if I wasn't paying attention. Briefly thought about trying the large cuz I like my bikes big, but went for the frame closer to my frame.

It's a fun bike to ride. Of course I said that about my other Fargo and Pugs Neck Romancer when I first got them, but it's just a little bit more so.  It handles corners great, with none of the self steer onthe Pugs, but still easily rolls over rocks and roots out at Riverside State Park.

Now I'm thinking what to do with the brown and orange Fargo. It's a great bike, and right now I need it because 2" tires are the largest Amtrak allows. I will probably keep it for my bikepacking rig. My mountain bike is sold, and maybe the cross bike is next.

Ok so how does Sprootz get any blame in this? Can't remember exactly how it went, but more than a year ago he mentioned how he could use me as an excuse/reason (maybe to the mrs.) to justify a new bike. This worked both ways for us.  I hadn't gotten a new bike for awhile, and he'd gotten a nice e-bike and maybe another, too. So, somewhat irrationally, that got thrown into the calculations. That, and the current world situation and I developed an eat, drink, and be merry attitude.

Funny thing, after buying it in late spring, I haven't ridden a whole lot this summer - too dang hot! I'm looking forward to putting many miles on it this fall, and maybe into winter.  I want to see how it does on snow.