Sunday, July 15, 2018

A Radwagon Tour of Spokane

hey look what the drones dropped on my front porch! 72 pounds of bike material.

Which after a little assembly by me, and a once-over by Grafton at Velofix, turned into this: a Radwagon from Rad Power Bikes:
oops left off the front fender
I have a front rack, platform, and side bag on order, but in the meantime this is how I’m rolling it. And roll it does. On my first spin around the neighborhood I was like a little kid, with a gee whiz this is cool feeling.  The bike has 5 levels of pedal assist and also a throttle for an extra boost. There may be some drag without any pedal assist, but I don’t notice it on flat ground.

I took it for a longer test ride and planned a route with hills to test out the pedal assist. First up: Pettett Drive, aka Doomsday Hill. Zipped right up it trying the first 3 pedal assist levels, and also without, using just the lower gears on the 3x7 drivetrain.

No hill, just the Centennial Trail in the Kendall Yards neighborhood.
Heading up the Ben Burr Trail
Perry Street

 Southeast Boulevard, heading up the South Hill. Not a real difficult climb, but the pedal assist is real nice and would be even handier with a heavier load.

After SE Blvd, I biked on some streets parallel to 29th Ave until I could get to the 29th Ave bike lanes further, ummm, west I think. It was funny, the battery level at this time showed 4 out of 5 bars, and after going down a little hill it went back up to 5. Hmm, must be something wrong with the gauge. Then I remembered, oh yeah the bike has regenerative braking! Every time you brake, it helps recharge the battery.  Cool! The gauge went back and forth for awhile until I charged it up more biking down the hill on various streets like Jefferson and Adams.

By the time I got home, I'd biked 31 miles and only used a bit of the battery. The bike is billed as having a 25-45+ range, so it all depends on how much you use/need the pedal assist or throttle.

I really like having the throttle when crossing streets after a stop because it gives you a little kick and gets you across quicker. It was easy getting used to using the pedal assist and throttle, although I find myself in a battle between using the manual gears, or just leaving it in a mid-gear and adjusting the assist or using the throttle as needed.

Rad Power Bikes only sells direct, and I wasn't able to try one before ordering. I did a little research beforehand and it seemed the battery and motor were equivalent to, or better than, other more expensive  E-Bikes. I was a little worried about the seat height because the pictures show it as really low, but I was able to get it high enough for my liking.  The 3 x 7 drivetrain isn't a good selling point, especially since I hate 3-rings. 

Overall, I'm pretty happy with it. I'd like to bike it to work because the extra power would help biking home on these long, hot, summer days. It's going to be a pain getting it int the elevator and thought the doors at work, though.

Monday, June 18, 2018

New tires! Panaracer GravelKing 700 x 38c (40-622)

Well I finally did it, got me some new tires. Earlier this year I looked at the rear Kenda Flintridge and saw it was getting worn down, and thought I should switch it to the front even though Sheldon Brown said not to. Thought maybe I could get another year or two out of the tires. But then I looked at the rear tire again a couple weeks ago, and said yikes! that center tread is worn. Maybe it’ll last through the year, but maybe not and it looks too worn now to move up to the front.

Well, I’ve been itching to try some other wider 700c tire offerings and there’s a few more to choose from now than a few years ago. Thought about the Maxxix ReFuse again, or the new Donnelly (neĆ© Clement) Strada Ush 40c but then along came Panaracer with another GravelKing model but with a smooth tread and 38c (finally!). They’re light - 320g - and under $50. Choice of black or tan sidewalls. Cool, so I got me some. This time I went for smooth ride over long lasting as opposed to when I got the Kendas the main focus was on tires that looked like they would last a couple seasons.

I thought now would be a good time to upgrade my rims to actual tubeless rims instead of the stock DT Swiss/Stan’s tape combo, but I couldn’t wait. I tore off the old tires.

....and struggled mightily to get the new GravelKings on the rim. They were tight and close fitting! Tougher to get on than the studded Marathons. Finally, once they were on I zapped some air in with the compressor, and holy crap after the bead set and popped a few times, they were holding air. And they sat perfectly round on the rim. I put some sealant in and let them sit overnight. They lost a little air in the morning, with just a few spots where sealant leaked out a little.  

My first test ride was on the street and Fish Lake Trail with a helluva head and side winds. Didn’t really notice a big difference.

Been biking to work on them last week and this week, and found they do roll nice.  Really notice the difference when I’m coasting or going downhill, feels like the bike is rolling more easily. Took it on a dirt trail off Nortwest Blvd, and they handled pretty good.  I’m still a little leery on the street when turning on a gravel strewn street, but the grip seems pretty good on pavement. 

I might be getting too optimistic here, and expecting a little too much from these tires, but maybe now I’ll finish the Midnight Century under 10 hours again!

I’m just not looking forward to when I finally upgrade the wheels on my Vaya and have to take the tires off, and put them on again. 

P.s. legal disclaimer: Tires were bought and paid for by myself as no companies still don’t  send me free stuff to review.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Carrying on about the little things

well hey I don’t have much to say

but I've got some pics of some small carries.

(In other news I figured out how to get around the no-scrolling on iPad on Blogger by hitting return, and was able to get all pics off my phone or iPad instead of opening up my ancient laptop and waiting days for it to download 2,000 pics from my phone. Except I have to ignore the jumping around after every keystroke whilst typing. Maybe now I’ll blog more.     Ha!)

Not carrying much in this pic, but it shows the WolfTooth B-RAD Half Bottle Adapter (bought and paid for by me) in action at NorthTown Mall. Just barely clears my right foot and allows use of a larger bottle with a frame bag. I got a Ride More Drive less sticker from Hottman Law Office - The Cyclist Lawyer and it is partially covering up some wear and tear due to carelessness on my Vaya.

every once in awhile I break down and get something tasty like a huge cinnamon roll from Rocket  Bakery. You should try their Pecan Roll!

Airing out my t-shirt after a workout at Lilac City Fit Body Bootcamp!

 Also, my bike ride home from workout goes near the Viking. Pretty convenient.

Hot pizza! Accidentally ordered extra slices at Veraci Pizza on the way home

Hot breakfast burrito! from My Fresh Basket on my way to work. Good but too much potato. Do potatoes belong in breakfast burritos?

Cool find at Judy’s Enchanted Garden. This was destined for the Mothers Day Baskets at work 
each team makes and auctions off to benefit the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery. A few people unhappy with me outbidding them, but hey I used to watch Storage Wars (Yuuuup!) and it’s for a good cause. (I give up blogger you win)

The view from the handlebars

Discovered the Trekz Titanium wireless bone conduction earphones fit with my helmet on. 
woo hoo!

Checking out the new pavement on the Monroe Street hill whilst carrying Skippers takeout

I moved the Blackburn Local rack from the front to rear, and accidentally ordered an inexpensive
pizza rack from State Street Cycle that should be great for the front. I had cut down the rack struts and they’re were too short for the rear, but luckily had some extra Salsa struts that fit.

Oh I got carried away with the carrying and must have been a sight to see

Another smug yes I can carry that home on my bike pic. 

At the aforementioned Skippers, and more fresh pavement on the somewhat controversial Monroe Street makeover.

That’s all for now!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

It's a Ride Report: GFE

Whoa, I finished the 80 mile Ephrata Gran Fondo in 7hours 32minutes; 2 minutes slower than last year even though I feel a little stronger now. Going to blame it on all the stopping for pics I did this year. Still a full hour and 1/2 slower than 2014 back when I was in better shape, actually getting some long rides in beforehand during milder Jan-Feb weather.

So yes we got pics, lots of pics this time.

I took the front rack off my Vaya this time, and it seemed more spry and speedy. Haven't put it back on yet for commute mode which means I had to backpack donations for our work sponsored charity, splitting it up into two trips. Thinking I'll eventually put front and maybe rear rack back on, but right now I'm enjoying the ride.

I also pumped the tires up over 40psi and they rolled better on the pavement sections. Usually, I lower them because of the gravel sections which doesn't work as well for the pavement.

Note below also, I have the WolfTooth B-Rad Half-Bottle adapter on the down tube bottle cage. It rotates the bottle out just a bit so the tall 22 oz bottle will fit outside the frame bag when the bottle cage is in the usual spot.  It just clears the pedals, and surprisingly doesn't get in the way. I've also used just the B-Rad base to lower the bottle cage centered on the downtube, but then the seat tube bottle gets in the way and you have to raise it and use a shorter bottle.
the venerable vaya, in anti-BQ anti-rando mode
The pre-ride meeting:

The traditional foggy screen shot after I first pull my phone out of my pocket. This was an hour  or so in and already off the back as they say:

What I've noticed this year and last is there are more gravel style bikes with lower gears than there used to be. First couple years I did it there was hardly anybody with lower gears than me, but this year I watched enviously as a guy with a 1 x 12 system effortlessly pass me up a hill as I was in my lowest gear (34 X 36). Of course, sometimes they effortlessly pass me because I'm just slow.

Most of these pics are of the gravel sections, yet only about 30 miles is gravel/dirt.  Needs more.

Baird Springs Road, my favorite portion of the ride. It's a fast downhill, and my tendency is to go too fast. When I first started biking this Fondo I would pass a lot of guys on skinny tired road bikes, but now I'm so far back I don't get to fly smugly by anybody..

More pics of this area, because I can't decide which ones to edit out.

It's funny, I almost switched to the 50 mile course which doesn't go down Baird Springs Rd. It leaves from the other end towards Quincy, and takes Overend Rd. which crosses Baird. One thing in favor of the 50 mile course was riding the full Overend Rd which I've never done. I also just like the name, and it seems appropriate for me.  While biking down Baird, suddenly I met bikers heading towards me - it tuns out the 50 miler had to be re-routed and skipped Overend.

30 some miles in, and it's biking on Stuhlmiller Road up above Hwy 28 and the Columbia River.
we would soon be riding on Hwy 28 for a stretch
There were a lot of dirt bikers in the Stuhmiller Road area, and I began to wonder why don't I take up dirt biking? Seems easier and funner! Also more potential for broken bones for this old man who likes to got too fast downhill.

More pics I can't decide to delete.

The Palisades Road through the Moses Coulee. I noticed an old shack up against the cliffs along here that I hadn't seen before. Thought about exploring but I stuck to the planned route.

These guys were stopped ahead of me, and got going when they saw me coming. I'd been leapfrogging with the two in black a few tines. One had bike issues early on, and I passed them again when they stopped on Stuhlmiller Road. They promptly passed me again, then  I saw them at the 40 mile pit stop. The guy in yellow took a ride home a bit beyond here.

The first of the Three Devils hill, which I am happy to report I didn't walk up this year. It's steeper than it looks, honest! After here I found myself glancing at my Garmin and worrying about the time and mileage, so I switched it to the elevation screen. This year I wasn't too concerned about how fast I was going compared to others, I was just biking it at my own pace trying not too worry about the time and distance.

Another foggy screen shot, this time up in the Sagebrush Flats area. I actually passed a guy after the climb up from the Palisades on a short stretch of paved Sagebrush Flats Road, before the turn onto gravel Road 23.

Back on Sagebrush Flats Road, I stopped to take a pic of the change from the last bit of gravel to pavement, and that guy I passed went and passed me. I though oh no, I'm last place now! Sure, I was biking at my own speed, but I didn't really want to be last. A support truck came up from behind and asked me how I was doing. Doing great! Not going to take a ride now, less than 20 miles from the finish. Sometimes I wonder if the support truck is just hoping we stragglers throw in the towel and they can head to the post ride meal.

Still up in the hills, before the last superfun downhill portion of Sagebrush Flats Road. Ephrata in the distance off to the right.

Sorry no pics of the downhill. Like I've said before, I should have been a downhill mountain biker, I love going fast downhill. I came up from behind the guy that had just passed me and could've probably zipped by him. But in a rare moment of caution, I held back. He ended up finishing less than a minute ahead of me.

I got a few cheers from the timing people as I hit the finish line, and snagged a finisher's patch from an outstretched arm. As I was resting up it looked like the timers were closing up but then I heard more cheers and another biker approaching. Whoa, somebody was behind me. Good thing I didn't slow down at the end.

I biked the two miles home to my parent's house, and then we went to dinner at Tequila's, a Mexican restaurant in town. I stayed overnight and drove back to Spokane the next day.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Nate/Rolling Darryl Tubeless Combo

After Pink sang the national anthem for the Super Bowl on Sunday, I headed downstairs to tubeless the Nate rear tire on my Pugs N/R. Hey, it worked again!

This operation was too easy. I followed the same procedure as with the front Larry in the previous post using the FattyStripper.  Had a little trouble with a wrinkle in the bling strip where it overlaps, but nothing serious. If I had it to do over again, I’d use a regular Surly or other rim strip that’s a continuous band rather than the 3 foot long or so bling strip.

I attempted to install a foam rod in the center channel as in this post at that is linked to in the FattyStripper FAQ, but due to the sloping shoulders of the center channel of the rims and my impatience coupled with lack of spray adhesive on hand to keep the foam from slipping around, I said to heck with it. Maybe someday I’ll be sorrywhen the tire rolls off the rim after one of those gnarly bike tricks.

Stretched the FattyStripper over the rim, and got the tire on. The Nate seems like a beefier tire than the Larry and the bead edges were sitting mostly close to the rim edge, except for in the valve area. Put in a little sealant and pumped air in from my little pancake compressor. No sealant spewing all over this time, but it didn’t quite set so I put 2 more ounces in. More air, and this time I actually heard the pop of the bead setting over the compressor noise. Woo hoo! The tire was holding air pretty good with just one spot where sealant leaked, so I  went upstairs and saw Philadelphia was leading 15-3, still first quarter. Another woo hoo!

After the game I pumped the tire up a couple times and again on Monday morning. When I checked after work it’d lost about 3psi. Then I remembered the thorn puncture I got a few years ago on the Quilomene trip. Hmmm...I found the puncture spot but no sealant leaking there. Will have to plug that spot anyway.  After I wrastled the wheel back onto the bike, I saw a mysterious drop of sealant between some tread knobs.  Will keep an eye on it and see if anywhere else needs plugging.

And that folks is my fatty tubeless conversation story. Ymmv

(I should probably mention I paid for the FattyStripper items and received no compensation for fact nobody has ever sent me anything free even though I’m a renowned worldwide blogger).  smiley face.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Tubeless Surly Larry/Rolling Darryl conversion

I really didn’t expect this to work.

pre-trimming of the fattystripper

I’ve had my Pugsley Neck Romancer for 4-5 years or so, and about the only thing that bothers me is the delayed response from the front wheel turning. I call it self-steer. I'll turn the handlebars, and a second later feel weight moving in the direction of the turn. At first I thought it was just the way fat bikes handled, or maybe it was due to the straight arrow tread pattern of the Larry front tire. After a few years I suspected what I was experiencing was the delayed sliding movement of the tube in the direction of the turn.

I’ve mainly ridden my Pugs to work this winter, and it really started bugging me. Let's see, how much would new tubeless rims cost? Then I ran across the FattyStripper Tubeless Solution on the inter webs. It's similar to the split-tube method. I ordered their FattyStripper Latex Band and red Bling strip, after warning Debbie about the name on the card charge. (She seemed nonplussed). Also, ordered foam backer rod strips that they recommended for the Rolling Daryl rims (as they say "for rims with loose tolerance for seating the bead"). If this setup didn't work, at least I'll get a little more color on the bike with the bling strip.

First I took off the tire, tube, and rim strip and installed the bling strip, managing to get it on somewhat loosely. Then stretched the FattyStripper over the rim and put two foam rods under the strip next to the edge. Got the valve in and put the tire on. Poured in a little bit of sealant. Fired up the compressor, blew some air in. Sealant spewing everywhere, the tire beads mostly refusing to go towards the rim edges.  Ok, stopped that. I pulled out the foam rods because they were preventing the tires from sliding over to the rim edge. (Reading the directions again, I may have misunderstood and should have put the rods more towards the center). Put about 2 oz. more sealant in the tire and fired more air in the valve. Sealant spewing in lots of places but the tire is attaching to the rim. Rolled the tire around, did the hippy hippy shake to spread the sealant around. More air, a little less spewing. Repeat, even less leaking. Hey, this might work. I put the valve core in, and filled the tire and let it sit. Some leaking going on.

I brought the tire in from the garage into the basement and let it sit, then measured the air pressure. It was at 7.5 psi. Thought it'd be higher, so I grabbed the floor pump and pumped more air in.

Suddenly at around 17 psi, POP! A little more air, and another POP. Whoa, the bead sat! I left it at 15psi and let it sit overnight. I think it went down to 10, then pumped it back up. Repeated next day, then the rest of the week it was holding steady.

This morning, I dropped the psi to 10 and took the venerable Pugs for a test ride around the block, hoping the tire didn't pop off the rims with some weight on them. Whoa, it works and no self-steer! Maybe a little from the arrow tread pattern. I headed down to Joe Albi stadium, and rode a favorite curvy, winding trail behind the Dwight Merkel sports complex. Fun, no tube sloshing back and forth. Even with the pressure fairly high, the bike handled great and I didn't have to fight the tire around a turn.

I don't know how well this will last, and will always have a tube with me attached to the rear rack or in frame bag. I don't plan on getting too far from home, yet.

Next up for tubeless: the rear Surly Nate.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Views from Wileydogland, part 2

more pics. whaat is this, instagram?

some pics below first seen on twitter or instagram

went for the hieroglyphic bar tape, not getting much better at wrapping. had to wrap one side clockwise, the other counter so the glyphs weren’t hidden on one side.

Street find in a planter box on Wall Street. I picked it up and brought it home. Everybody told me don’t you watch dateline? Now your dna is all over it.

A pretty shot while biking in Riverside State Park first week of December, below the military cemetery area.  from iPhone SE because I ahem lost my iPhone 6s while biking and don't deserve a better phone.

Leaning tower of scotcharoos, my specialty

schoolyard toys left out. which reminds me, I think we owe the school for a new red ball to replace a punctured one.

dog park pics, little mountain goats

the annual fat tire/Nettleton Street winter pic

Another street, another day. Fat bike for commuting comes in handy, better than studs or mountain bike many days.

Outside My Fresh Basket, I was a little leery of locking up after seeing the middle bike. Seems to be a safe spot, so wondered if bike was left overnight.

Rare local music store find, a button accordion tuned B/C. Perfect for Irish tunes, but I don't know if I want to take up another instrument or just have it hanging around.

A wintry day, chain broke shortly after this. Now I have a spare chain to practice changing links on.

Surprised by some daylight on ride to work.

A light coating of icy frost/snow on the streets made these tires the wrong tool for the job but I was so tired of studded tires or rolling fat bike tires on pavement.


on my way to boot camp. who needs hi-viz?

I like to keep the pie plates and reflectors on my bike partly to annoy serious cyclists, partly out of lazyness. And because I like having the reflectors on for night street riding although I'm not sure if they help any.

 for Debbie's road bike

that's all for now folks, might have to go out for a bike ride.