Friday, April 30, 2010

Pacific Pizza Spirited Group Ride

The following is a guest post from my friend Alan Jacob about a rad cycling event that took place here in spo this Tuesday past. Here's a bit of backstory. Thanks for putting this fun post together, Alan. Take it away . . .


When it was announced late last week that this Tuesday’s Twilight Series race was canceled, my friend came up with a great idea: why don’t we have a rally ride instead. It’ll be just like a race but it won’t be a race at all. It’s a spirited group ride, officer. :-)

But it was a dark and rainy day. All day. I thought the Pacific Pizza Spirited Group Ride would be a bust. But then the clouds parted, the roads dried out, and it turned AWESOME and the ride was on!

Riders showed up knowing that they’d be doing a 25-mile ride, but had no idea where they’d be heading. Once they signed up for a start time, they were given little slips of paper directing them to the three checkpoints. At each checkpoint was a sign with a secret word. Put all three words together and the following phrase resulted, “Happiness Is Bicycling.” True dat.

Never before have I seen an iPhone put to “real world” use so well. When the riders received their checkpoints, all of a sudden everyone whipped out their iPhone and started plotting their route.

Groups were hastily formed, some riders choosing to do it solo—figuring it’s easier to make a sudden turn down an alley if you don’t have to tell anyone what you’re doing—while others opted for a team approach—drafting is always a plus.

Realizing that they didn’t stand a chance against some of the other teams, Quentin and Andy (smartly) cheated. They simply called the furthest checkpoint, asked the owner of Argonne Cycles what the secret word was at his store, and then went to the two closer checkpoints. When you can’t beat ‘em through determination, stamina, and skill, you’ve gotta rely on something, right?

But at the end of the night, the fastest time went to Scott Coldiron who got to all three checkpoints in 1:11.11. Pretty stinking fast, if you ask me, especially when you consider all the traffic lights he MUST have stopped at…


And at the end of the ride, the riders’ $5 bought them an 8-inch pizza and a beer.

The folks who showed had nothing but rave reviews for the event. The anticipation of waiting to find out the route, the last-minute attempt to chart the best course, seeing the other teams on parallel blocks and suddenly doubting your fastest route, riding like crazy and trying to remember the secret phrase, pizza and beer. What could be better?

No doubt there’s another one of these already in the planning stages. Or so “my friend” tells me.

“Happiness is Bicycling”

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Tonight I got to do a super-casual low-key hang. During which time I was free to hold my new bike for as long as I wanted.

When I was building race cars, my friend Mark had this term "fondling the metal".

Probably sounds all pervish to you but it's where I live. (I know, Level III sex offenders often use that same line, but cut me some slack, I'm a harmless bike fiend.) "Fondling the metal" is simply a term that describes the natural tendencies of a mature and well-adjusted adult who's involved in a long-term relationship with steel.

I don't have the skill to build my own frame, but I do have enough metalworking experience to totally get off on the details of what's coming together.

Probably the best kind of satisfaction is doing it yourself, but just getting a chance to be this closely involved in the process is a pretty close second.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hanging Tree S24O

The first S24O of the season is in the books. John set the schedule and pretty much all I had to do was be there on the right day and time. He couldn't get any of the other usual suspects to show up for this one. Here's where the season opener took us . . .

Yup, the fabulous rolling hills of the Palouse. What's so great about the rolling hills of the Palouse, you ask? The downhill parts, of course. (Please don't ask any more dumb questions.)

Our destination was the Hanging Tree Historical Monument. Why, you ask? No reason really. (Enough with the questions already.)

The monument sets on the banks of Hangman Creek. (I know you're dying to ask why they named it that. Don't.)

We could have easily gone another 50 or 75 miles, but our bikes were thrashed and needed a rest. Turns out the distance was just about right for them.

Since I knew we'd be doing a lot of climbing on gravel roads, I packed my rear panniers with ballast, for extra traction. Unfortunately, all the ballast disappeared at the campsite. On the way back, John smoked me up every hill. Just couldn't get any traction. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

All the serious S24O'ers roll with bivvy's . . .

Those things look murderous to me and besides, I have a hard time being serious. Thanks, but I'll stick with my lightweight solo tent . . .

The two extra pounds buy you just a tiny little space, which is a slice of heaven . . .

Even though I had my panniers pretty well closed up before I went to bed, a mouse found its way into one. Which one, you ask? (Argghh!) The one with the food, naturally. Anyway. He was living large right up until the moment I opened up the bag and screamed like a girl. Looks pissed, doesn't he . . .

Chowed down on a leftover tortilla, some dried bananas and a breakfast bar. Midnight smorgasboard. Party time . . .

All in all, a great first overnighter. All the gear worked, just right on the food and water, weather cooperated and we took in some killer views. (The camera really doesn't do it justice.)

Where to on the next S24O you ask? Jeez, you just don't give up, do you.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Bike camping season is here and my first trip is just around the corner. Last year I went all crazy with gear and blogged all over hell about it and one thing that came out of that was that some people wanted to know more about how I rigged my hammock. I really did mean to get back to you guys before now but I whiffed, so I'm putting the better-late-than-never concept into play.

Not to disappoint you, but it's pretty basic shit. I didn't much care for the whole deal about "lashing" your hammock to a tree. If you're into knots, knock yourself way the hell out, but frankly, I lead a productive life and have way better ways to spend my time.

In short, I scabbed 12 feet of 1" wide webbing onto the cords. Here's kind of the overview of one end of the hammock.

One end of that webbing gets "lashed" (hopefully for the last time) to the hammock cords via some rings . . .

. . . and the other end gets a 'biner . . .

Then all you have to do is wrap the strap . . .

. . . and cinch up . . .

At exactly the same moment that my body slammed into the ground in the middle of the night, I realized that one more step was required. An easily-undone insurance knot. It's probably not necessary if you don't toss and turn, but what kind of freak lays perfectly still? I think you should strongly consider this suggestion.

Looks totally serene from here, but holy hell, is that a torture chamber of a place to spend the night. So far. I'm good for maybe 2 or 3 more attempts but if something doesn't improve in a hurry, tents will start looking pretty freaking good again.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


You know I like to have fun here and honestly, I like to be positive and look at the bright side, but godammit, sometimes when people are face-on in your grill, you just have to call bullshit.

What kills me is that I feel compelled to do it for the second post in a row. Lame. First it was the S-R, and now (may I burn I hell) Benniditos.

I've been waiting to burn enough calories to earn a pizza and today it happened. I was STOKED. The plan was to roll in, park my butt at the bar, have a coupla brews while I waited for the pie to cook, eat some of it there and take the rest home.

The bar was pretty full, so I grabbed a spot next to the register. A worker-dude came up and literally barked at me about what did I want. I instinctively barked back. We all like our cool neighborhood pizza joint, and I know they want to be all edgy and all that, but dude. You were so far out of line, so full of yourself.

Sitting next to the register was unique. A lady came up and was dissatisfied that she had to pay a mandatory 18% gratuity (she must have been part of a large group) for service that basically sucked. She was respectful and didn't say it that way, but the response from the female server was that she should take her business someplace else. After the lady left, the server bragged about her response to her co-workers. I threw up in my mouth.

I worked a bunch of years in the service industry and even if I thought I didn't need a certain customer, I would never tell them that. EVER.

I've never gotten good service there and I've just figured it's part of the deal, but now I see how it is. Well, I always did, but now it's too clear. I'll probably go back there at some point because some friends are meeting there or whatever, but it will never be my choice and I'll do my best to spend as little as possible.

I eventually got my pizza, but it tasted funny.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Under State Law . . .

Another cyclist in our area has been hit by a car. It happened yesterday, near Cheney. I first learned about the accident this morning, when it showed up as a news brief in the Spokesman-Review. From that article:

A 36-year-old bicyclist was seriously injured Thursday when he was hit by a car while riding about two miles south of Cheney.

Theodore Chauvin was northbound in the southbound lanes of Cheney-Plaza Road about 6:15 p.m., when he was struck by a 1997 Kia Sephia driven by William Knight Jr., 47, of Williams Lake.

Knight swerved in an attempt to avoid hitting the cyclist, who was three feet inside the travel lane, said Sgt. Dave Reagan, Spokane County Sheriff’s Office spokesman.

Chauvin suffered a broken leg and shoulder and was taken to a downtown hospital, Reagan said.

Under state traffic law, bicyclists are required to obey the same rules as motorists. Chauvin, who was wearing a helmet, may be cited for improper lane travel, Reagan said.

The cyclist was Ted Chauvin, an accomplished racer from this area. I don't personally know Ted, but I do know of him and a racer with his accomplishments will, out of necessity, have ridden thousands and thousands of training miles on the road. And in my experience, the roadie culture is generally pretty law-abiding. So I was having trouble envisioning the scenario in which Ted was out riding down the wrong side of a rural road.

And of course, it was important for the S-R to conclude the article by reminding us all that "bicyclists are required to obey the same rules as motorists". BAD cyclist.

The online version of the article was later edited by striking the word "northbound" (textbook example of how one word can change the entire meaning of a sentence) and the sentence "Chauvin, who was wearing a helmet, may be cited for improper lane travel, Reagan said."

And this comment was ammended:

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected since initial publication. The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office corrected on April 16 that the bicyclist was riding southbound in the correct lane of travel when he was struck.

That "bicyclists are required to obey the same rules as motorists" apparently remained relevant, despite the new information that had emerged.

A second, separate online article was posted and read as follows:

A bicyclist on Cheney-Plaza Road was seriously injured Thursday evening when he was struck by a car in the southbound lane of the road two miles south of Cheney.

Theodore Chauvin, 36, suffered a broken leg and shoulder and was taken to a Spokane hospital for treatment.

A previous report incorrectly indicated that Chauvin was riding in the wrong lane, against traffic. The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office said today that Chauvin was riding in the correct lane.

Under state traffic law, bicyclists are required to obey the same rules as motorists.

Chauvin was hit about 6:15 p.m. by a 1997 Kia Sophia driven by William Knight Jr., 47, of the Williams Lake area. Knight told deputies he attempted to avoid the bicyclist.

Once again, the S-R felt a responsibility to not let us loose sight of the fact that "bicyclists are required to obey the same rules as motorists". (And divulge that Kia has a new model - the "Sophia".)

Then, I found a post on the Inlander website that contains the following brief:

Drivers vs Cyclists
In other bad-driving news, William Knight struck cyclist Theodore Chauvin on Cheney-Spangle Road last night. Chauvin went to the hospital with a broken leg and Knight, cops say, will face penalties.

So the story was first reported(?) as a cyclist being struck while riding illegally on the wrong side of the road, by a driver who tried to avoid hitting him. Those are the main facts that people who read only the print article will draw their conclusions from.

With the little information we have, it's hard to know much about what really happened, but it appears that the more accurate story is that a cyclist was struck while riding legally, by a driver who will face penalties over the incident. That's a whole different set of facts to draw your conclusions from.

Nice work, S-R. Oh wait, I'm sorry. It's the fault of the Spokane County Sheriff's Office. You told us that many times and still, I forgot.

Oh, and I'd like to add that, under state traffic law, motorists are required to obey the same rules as bicyclists.

Best wishes for a fast recovery, Ted.


Edit 4/17: Both the print and online editions of today's S-R contained a news brief titled Injured cyclist not to blame.

From that brief:

A bicyclist on Cheney-Plaza Road who was seriously injured Thursday when he was struck by a car was not to blame for the accident.

Theodore Chauvin, 36, suffered a broken leg and shoulder and was taken to a Spokane hospital for treatment.

A previous police news release incorrectly indicated that Chauvin was riding in the wrong lane against traffic. The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office said Friday that Chauvin was riding in the correct lane.

Chauvin was hit about 6:15 p.m. by a 1997 Kia Sophia driven by William Knight Jr., 47, of the Williams Lake area. Knight told deputies he came around a curve and attempted to avoid the bicyclist.

Knight will likely face an infraction, said sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Dave Reagan.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My Birthday Ride

As planned, I did some riding today. Although I had to work, I still managed almost 3-1/2 funtastic hours in the saddle. If I was the king of spo, I would hereby declare that it's how everyone who likes to ride must spend their birthday. Here's where I went:

The highlight, by far, was the section in the blue oval. More about that in a minute.

The ride was in four acts. Scene 1, the first 16 miles, was home-to-work, early this morning. What's so cool about this is that until fairly recently, there were no showers at work. So I've normally taken the bus most of the way there, so that I don't arrive drenched in sweat. But my employer recently expanded the office building and added showers as part of that project. This was my first shot at riding in and showering.

The shower is basically one big stall, about 12 feet long, with a shower on one end and a place to change on the other. It works out pretty well.

The project didn't include any locker space, though, so I need to figure that part out. For now, I hung my wet clothes and towel in a basement storage area pretty close to the shower. Lots of details still left to work out.

Coupla other things. New parking place for the bikes at work. Outside, but covered:

And the sandals, oh the sandals! Ever since buying them, I can't bear to put my feet in any other cycling shoes. This morning it was 37 degrees when I left the house and I knew that I was pushing the limit pretty hard. Yes, my toes got very, very cold. And yes, it was still way better than wearing any kind of closed shoe. If I was the king of spo, I would hereby declare that all cyclists must let their dogs breathe.

Now, about that blue oval. My mom recently moved into a nursing home on the north side, near the Northpointe Shopping Center. Scene 2, another 16 miles, was a ride up after work to see her. There's not a ton of route options from the valley to the north side. There's a coupla different ways if you're going as far north as Hawthorne or Hastings, but I was going just a little past the Y. I could have just taken Upriver to Frederick, but that takes me farther south and out of the way. So I map-spotted a route through Northwood that would dump me out on Wellesley. Here's more detail:

That's about 4 miles of variable-pitch climbing and fast, fun descending, with some great views thrown in. Here's a shot coming down. It's taken on a straight section of Wellesley, with another straight section of Wellesley off in the distance. In between, just over the crest of that first hill, is a narrow, swoopy, roller-coaster section. You won't see any photos here, 'cause I was having way too much fun to stop and take a dopey pic.

Scene 3 was an 8-or-so mile ride from Northpoint to downtown. Pretty uneventful, except that it was fun to see all the kids spilling out into the streets to enjoy the warm weather. Except for the one little bastard who threw a rock at me, but I just envisioned the royal punishment that I would inflict upon his scrawny ass if I were the king of spo. This thought amused my royal self. The dude wasn't even close to putting a dent in my wonderous day.

I've been jonesin' for a good burger for weeks, so my lovely bride cruised down the hill, met me at the Onion . . .

. . . and treated me to the cure:

In Scene 4, we nonchalantly picked our way through the streets of downtown and up the hill. It was great fun. When we got to the house, a birthday surprise: My friend Maddie had left a card on the gate . . .

100 more bikes. Yes, why not! I've obviously forgotten how to make a good wish. Meanwhile, Patty cringed.

Damn, what a great day. Wish it was my birthday again tomorrow.

Skipping This Today

And not a bit sad about it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Save A Little For Yourself

When it comes to saving money, there's a fundamental rule about paying yourself first. Or in other words, when you get your paycheck, chunk some of it away in your savings account before you do anything else. If you only save what's left over after you pay your bills and buy the shit you need/want, you'll never save much.

These past few weeks, the busy-ness in my personal life has bumped up a notch and that same busy-ness has dictated that I spend a lotta time in my truck travelling to the far corners of spo. Obviously, there's not much time left for riding. Or is there?

Maybe the analagous riding principle is that if you only ride when you have the time to spare, you won't ride much. Maybe I'm all goofed up and instead of feeling like I should ride after I'm done being responsible, I should be feeling that I'm responsible to myself to ride and that I need to work the other parts of my life around that. Probably, the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

But since it's my birthday tomorrow, I've decided that my present to myself is to test the concept by taking it to the extreme. Which means that my priority will be getting where I need to go by bike and that all my other responsibilies will have to work around that or else they can kiss my ass. Their choice.

I was originally thinking that the bus was fair game to help me make this happen, but then as my mind revved up and spun the details, I realized that there were other ways to make it happen and that the experience would be way more pure if I would just man up and go it alone. So screw the bus. (Just for this one day, though.)

If I sleep in and ditch the plan, I'm gonna havta fess up and write the most humiliating post of my life. But if I make it our the door, it could be a pretty good birthday adventure. Maybe I'll even do some mobile posts or something.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Ronde #1 Resides in the Rearview

The first Ronde Van Palouse went off yesterday. It was significant because it added another dimension to the local road racing scene: The Spring Classic. And things went well.

I'm kinda proud of our little bike club that could. The OTM article this month talked about how this was the first race we've put on, but that info got crossed up somewhere, because we've done a number of races over the past few years and I think we're on that steep part of the learning curve where we're getting quite a bit better with every one we do. And we're fired up and we bust ass, so that helps, too.

Putting on a race the right way takes a surprising amount of effort. And you can't just go out and decide to do it right one time. It takes commitment combined with repetition. The good organizers make it look easy, but it's not - they've been working at it a while.

In our case, we're lucky to have Mike Sirott as the driving force, and Alan Jacob as the first lieutenant. The energy between those two guys could light up some small towns, but fortunately for us, they've focused it on making races happen. And then there's Sarah Wilson, who has her official's hat in one hand and her registrar's in the other. Tim Lentz puts in a bazillion hours behind the scenes to give us the kind of web presence we need to be legit in this day and age. And I could never name them all, but there's a whole bunch of other people that come together prior to and on race day to make all this happen.

Registration area, just after the frenzy . . .

Alan's training session for the corner workers - flaggers, who stop traffic, and marshals, who point riders in the right direction.

Mike and Alex Renner from Baddlands, instructing the Men 4-5/Masters prior to start. Alex served as Chief Referee and with his immense experience, made sure things went down without a hitch. We're also grateful to Baddlands for loaning us a bunch of their equipmnet.

My peon job? Course setup. But that sounds so bland. So I like to think of myself as the "Sign Guy". Way pzazzier. And that's Mister Sign Guy, to you.

I do take it all crazy serious, though. As the old saying goes, "If you can't be an athlete, be an athletic supporter".

Since this was a new course that also involved veering off the beaten path, we were concerned about making sure everyone veered. Not to take anything away from our excellent marshals, but extra signage was definitely in order. I went into labor and gave birth. I was a proud papa.

They looked super-sweet in my garage, but when they got on the course, they immediately started falling apart. As I was driving the posts into the ground, the vibration was causing the heads of the sheet metal screws to pull through the pressboard that I made the signs out of. Krap. I had to go all McGyver and use paper clips (honest) to hold a couple together. Dumbass Sign Guy. Mister Dumbass Sign Guy, to you.

Oh, by the way. Some racers also showed up. 65, to be exact.

These next 3 pictures were taken during neutral roll-out (start of the race). That's about the last anyone saw of a pack. The constant rollers and wind blew the packs apart incredibly fast. Here's the Men 1-2-3 . . .

Men 4-5 and Masters . . .

Women 4 . . .

Mens 1-2 leaders (as of lap 2) negotiate the intersection at Bradshaw and Darknell. Sometime during the course of the day, a pack of riders came by so fast that they blew the stop sign over. I am not kidding.

Alan's fab awards, which perfectly captured the flavor and geography of the event . . .

Podium action . . .

It was a super-tough race and from the outside looking in, I wondered if anyone was having any fun. The post-race buzz was a resounding yes, which is extremely satisfying. Results are here. I'm already looking forward to an even better race next year.