Monday, June 30, 2008

6/30 Construction Report

There's prime construction riding happening on Maple, between 2nd and NW Boulevard.

No need to share the northbound bridge with anyone.

The riding's as good coming as it is going.

No telling if I would ever have the chance again to ride the wrong way up the on-ramp, so I thought I should seize the opportunity.

We're sharing again on North Wall, between Francis and Wellesley. Brand new no parking signs on both sides of the street.

Wonder how it's going up on Mt. Spokane.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Commuter Count

Despite the fact that my new commute is going great, I decided to ride in today. I hardly ever do this due to the lack of shower facilities at work, but it was too nice of a day to sit on a bus, so my co-workers will just have to deal with me today.

As I headed east on Upriver Drive, between Mission and Argonne I counted 20 cyclists headed into town. Impressive. Presumably almost all commuters, since they were carrying loads.

I was delighted to run across a nice little construction zone on east Wellesley. The new Paselas got a taste of what they are in for.

It's shaping up to be a pretty good day.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


This was the best day in the history of the world.

Yeah, I'm exaggerating, but a pretty dang good day. This was the perfect weather we were dreaming about through all those MANY months of garbage that we thought would never end, and just about didn't. I just thoroughly enjoyed being on my bike today.

Today I found out that the AquaVelva, an old soul, has some kind of very weird spiritual past life that compels it to run stop signs and ride on the sidewalk. I just wish I could do something to stop it.

I'm getting sucked into the GDR. Last night I found out that my wife's sister went to grade school with David and at the same time I made the connection that his dad is the deacon at our church. So even though I don't know David at all, now it's a tiny bit third-party-personal. The Spokane guys who do know David and are all over this are Jason and John. You should check it out, because it's pretty epic stuff.

De Leon Downtown is open. This is major, to quote the 80's.

I picked up a set of Panaracer Paselas (35c's, cause that's what they had), on the way home from work. The stoic self-portrait is something to behold, I know.

I was so proud, riding up the SH with my new rubber draped over my shoulder. That is, until I got home and found out that in all my excitement, I failed to realize they were Tour Guards. I was specifically instructed to stay away from the TG's, and I blew it. But it's too beautiful a day to dwell on mistakes and beat myself up, and besides, I already got the krap kicked out of me at work, so I put it behind me . . . they're already mounted and ready for tomorrow's ride. I'm going with the "everything happens for a reason" theory.

I stopped at Rosauer's on the way up the hill. PBR light? Who knew. Like this day couldn't get any better.

Monday, June 23, 2008


With no more than a few carefully-chosen words, John has planted this insidious little seed in my head that I need new cross-bike tires. The only reason I'm pissed is because he's right and I'm gonna have to put off badly-needed new socks and eat rice again this week. Shit, there goes my allowance.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sunday Ride

What could be better than a construction ride ?

Well, a trespass ride, as it turns out.

Nice and Ugly

A few days ago I blogged about the bike that will take me from Mirabeau to work. So I'm halfway there. Now for the other half.

What I need is a bike that I can ride from my house on the South Hill down to the Plaza, lock to a rack and leave there all day, and then ride it back up the hill at the end of the day. It needs to be relatively efficient on pavement, but it would also be nice if it had a little off-road capability so that I can ride up or down the the trails off High Drive on occasion. And of course it needs to be able to haul a little freight so I can do errands on the way home. It needs to be ugly enough so that nobody bothers it at the plaza and double-ugly enough so that I don't get attached to it, in case they do anyway. But if it could have just a hint of charisma amidst the ugliness, that would be cool, too.

So I decided that the bike for the job is an older rigid-fork mountain bike. There are quite a few around, so finding one shouldn't be too tough, and shouldn't take a lot of cash. I started my search with Craigslist. Too far to travel looking at bikes. Then, yard sales. Colossal waste of time. Next, pawn shops. Mostly front-suspended, over-priced Chinese bikes with no character. I was starting to think this was going to be a little tougher than I thought. But then, out of the blue, Ken over at the Cycling Spokane forum posted about an old Specialized Hard Rock for sale at the VOA thrift store for $60. (Thanks, Ken!) I knew it was the bike for me when I read that it was a "Gloriously god-awful shade of green." Due to my superior bargaining skills, I was able to talk them all the way down to $55. ;-)

Here she is on the day I brought her home, in all her glory, complete with mis-matched knobbies. The picture doesn't do it justice, but trust me when I tell you the saddle is hideously non-anatomical.

The weird roller-cam rear brake that Ken mentioned.

Color-coordinated stem with pass-through brake cable. Sweet.

Over the last couple of weeks I've been goofing around with her, going through the bearings and whatnot, shaking her down on short trips around the neighborhood. She's quickly become the short-trip, jump-on-in-your-flipflops, errand-running bike of choice. I don't wanna carry any kind of tool kit, so I had to get some Armadillos. I love Armadillos, but these are seriously ugly. I can't believe I bought them. I can't believe I spent more on them than on the bike. They should be perfect.

She's a work in progress, but we're off to a good, ugly start. She's ready for her first commute tomorrow.

I'm know I'm not supposed to get attached to this bike. She's now ugly enough that only a mother could love her. I call her the AquaVelva. You can call me mother.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Too Sad to Ride

Today I lost my bestest canine pal, Jasmine. I could care less about riding a bike at this moment.

She was 14-1/2. My daughter grew up with her. We have a boatload of great memories with this dog.

This morning, I picked all 80 lbs of her up and lovingly carried her out of the house when I got up (she could no longer stand or walk) and then carried her back in before I left for work. I got two heart-wrencing, sobbing calls from my daughter, who is now a young adult and out on her own. The first was because she was so upset when she got our message saying that Jasmine probably didn't have long to live and the second was when she came by to check on Jasmine, and called to say that she thought Jasmine had passed away.

When I got home, Jasmine was lying where I had left her, and she was gone. I cried so hard. I knew that she was fading, but I thought we had another day or two. I wish I could have said goodbye the right way, but I know that she knew that we loved her. And there was no doubt that she loved us. I'm comforted in the knowledge that she had about as good a life as a dog can have. We took care of her and she took care of us.

I'm qualified to say that losing a pet is nothing like losing a person that's close to you. But at the same time, it's not insignificant, either, and it hurts like hell. Dogs have such great loyalty and such great spirit. She was 100% devoted to her fam.

Jasmine, aka "The Jazz", aka "Jazzy G", aka "Home Dog".

Sleep tight, sweet girl. We'll remember you always.

Your people.

P.S. Brandy misses you and hopes she can fill your paws.

P.S.S . You rock at frisbee and ball and swimming.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Alan Rocks It

Lincoln Park Crit. The way he bridged . . . that was a thing of beauty. Here he is, just after catching on. He finished 2nd, BTW.

Moving Day

A few days ago, I blogged about my new commuting plan. Between daily obligations, my thoughts and plans have pretty much consumed me, and I've been feverishly working toward the launch. Today was red-letter, because I was able to "move in" to my new bike condo.

But before I could move in, I needed a bike to move in with. I decided that the bike for the job was an old fixie that I had hacked together a few years back. I had since disassemled it, due to the fact that my sad old knees can't tolerate the mashing associatied with fixed gear riding on the south hill. But to my credit, I hung onto it, and I'm thinking it will be perfect for the flat ride between Mirabeau and work. With the proper tweaks, of course. Here are the parts I drug out of the attic.

Any fixie looks best without fenders, but I gotta have 'em, in this case. So I was able to find some yellow Planet Bike fenders that at least have a modicum of flair. Then I hacked the ends off of a used pair of road bars that the fine folks at Wheel Sport South, my true local bike shop, hooked me up with for $6. I spent twice that on the bar tape necessary to tie the frame and fender colors together. The front basket is okay for now, but John Speare and his buddy Alex have really got me jonesin' for a porteur-style rack. Not quite sure when or how that will happen, but I'm working on it in the deep recesses. Anyway, here's what I've come up with.

The pedals were tough. I rumaged through my parts boxes and tried everything I had, but nothing was working for me. I really didn't want to go clipless, 'cause immediately before and after work is freedom time, and I don't really need the rules of having to wear certain shoes. Toe clips would be okay, except they also don't work for a wide variety of shoe styles. So platforms it is. Only problem is that all the platforms I own look like krap on this bike. The fine folks at my favorite LBS, North Division Bike Shop, hooked me up with these clear plastic BMX pedals. I'm extremely pleased.

Her she sits, in her new home-away-from-home.

I'm gonna love spending part of my bike time aboard a fixed gear again.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Mt. Spokane

According to the S-R today:

Mount Spokane road construction – Starting Monday, Mount Spokane Park Drive, the main park access road, will be closed just inside the park boundary at the first trailhead and restroom area. The closure will run Monday through Thursday for a few weeks while contractors do preliminary road-widening work. Around the first week of July, crews will close the road to most public access seven days a week. Restricted access will be allowed on the hour for people who live in mountain condominiums, resort workers, authorized volunteer groups and people who have made reservations to stay at the Quartz Mountain lookout, said Steve Christensen, state park manager. "Otherwise, the only way to get into the park will be to hike or mountain bike," he said. "The road to the summit won't be open at all during the summer," he said. "The general public will not be allowed to drive in and park after the main road is closed." Hikers can drive past park headquarters, park at the trailhead and hike up Trail 110 for what would be one of the best hiking seasons in years in terms of park solitude. Mountain bikers also can ride up Trail 110 from the park entrance area, but Christensen suggested they access the park at the park boundary on Day-Mount Spokane Road. "The road grade is a lot more gentle than the steep grade on the trail," he said. "But some culverts have washed out." People who applied on March 1 for overnight camping reservations at the Quartz Mountain lookout were not deterred by the construction inconvenience or the potential of noise from trucks hauling rock from the quarry near the lookout. "When they called to make reservations, we warned them that it could be noisy even in the middle of the night at times, and we still filled all the summer reservations in about four hours," he said.

Trail map link:

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Now That's What I'm Talk'n 'Bout!

Was the riding this weekend great, or what?

Honestly, I was all jet-lag messed up on Saturday and didn't ride (except down to The Scoop, for some jet lag recovery serum), but Patty and I got out for 20-ish today. My Father's Day ride. We have way too much krap and we made a deal for these kinds of holidays: No more gifts, only shared events. And when I get to make the call, like today, it always involves a ride. And a food & beer stop, of course. We always have the best time.

I know I haven't ridden for a week and that has something to do with it but man, that bike felt so sweet under me today - like I ruled this city! The weather was as perfect as riding weather gets. But what frosted my cake was the construction zones.

First, we hit this totally unexpected surprise on Country Homes Boulevard: A total road closure that detoured traffic . . . I live for this shit!!!

It was only a short section, but we lived large . . . we actually back-tracked and did it twice! The entire southbound lane, the culvert, we owned it all!

As it turns out, that was childs play, compared to what we found on the way home. We deliberately took Wall Street on the way back, because it's been under construction, and it was certain that there would be some adventure to be had. What we discovered was beyond our expectations. Check this out - impediments to traffic . . .

And smooth-as-silk sailing for cyclists . . .

Hmmm. Isn't this the definition of a bicycle boulevard???

From Francis to Wellesley, we had the ride of our lives. You should check it out, while you can.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


I was in Greece last week, on business. Athens, specifically. First time there. Unbelievable history.

I'm always anxious to see what's going on cycling-wise in the different countries I visit. Usually, my expectations are not met with disappointment. Before this trip, I had this fantasty that I would have some free time and an opportunity to rent a bike and ride the city. What I found was that cycling is practically non-existant in Athens. Aside from one lonely guy totally decked out in a CSC kit, doing this endless trackstand while he waited for a break in traffic, and a couple of other guys on cheap mountain bikes, I saw nobody on a bike. And this is a diverse, populous city. Weird. Motorcycles and scooters everywhere. And smart cars by the thousands. No bikes, though. The few I saw were made-in-China and un-inspiring.

Wish I'd had the chance to take some pictures of the CSC guy, with the traffic as a backdrop. Those would be some great pics. His story must be interesting.

By contrast, I flew through Amsterdam. I've never spent any time there, but even from the air, you can see all the people on bikes and the amazing cycling infrastucture. Wow.

It would be such an experience to cycle in some of these places. Someday. Maybe.

What this whole experience makes me appreciate and know for certain is how great we have it here in Spokane.

Best BBQ Sauce Ever

Old South. The mild totally rocks. The spicy screams. (Yes, of course this is bike related. Please! I picked it up from Huckleberry's on my bike.)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Easy Come, Easy Go

Over the past several weeks, I've gradually and reluctantly come to accept the fact that STA's "Bikes on Buses" program is no longer a viable commute option for me. While I'm thrilled to see the ever-increasing numbers of Spokane bike commuters, the personal downside for me is that the competition for rack space has become too intense. I'm not sure what's worse: Being the odd rider out or causing someone else to be. We're all trying to get to work in a more healthy and environmentally-friendly way, but none of us can afford to be dependent on a commuting scheme that can't get us to work on time consistently. To be fair, most bus drivers will accomodate a third bike on board (although some are true assholes . . . sorry, no other way to say it), and the relationship between cyclists is more often cooperative than acrimonious, but still, reliability has become too iffy.

I've had many a bus-bike trip that saved me from getting to work drenched in sweat or maybe just cut my commute time to something I could reasonably live with on a daily basis. So I'll miss my friend the rack.

But at about the same time that I was accepting my fate as a former rackster, my sub-conscious was hatching a new scheme to get me to work by bike. It would be all too easy to bash that pariah, the STA, for all my problems, but I'll be damned if they don't hold the solution to my problem.

Bike lockers!!!

Yeah, why didn't I think of this before? Well, for starters, it requires a little different take on bike commuting, given my route. The normal scheme is to leave from my house with my bike, ride down to the Plaza, where I throw it on a bus, ride the bus out to Industrial Park, and then ride the short remaining distance to work. This gets me to work relativlely fresh (showers aren't available where I work), and in a position to ride home at the end of the day. What the new scheme essentially allows me to do is to "store" bikes at the start and end points of a bus route, so that I can ride to and from the bus at both ends, but never have to worry about actually boarding a bike on the bus. Here's how it will work:

I'll ride from my house to the plaza, lock that bike to a rack at the plaza, jump on the 74 Express to Mirabeau Park and Ride, then retrieve a second bike from the locker there and ride it to work. All I have to do is reverse the plan on the return trip.

View Larger Map

The round trip is only about 14 miles of riding, as opposed to the 20 I was getting with the old method, but it will get me home sooner, so I can do more riding from my house in the evenings. Sounds too simple now, but it wasn't that obvious. I can't believe how excited and relieved I am to once again have a reliable and car-free way to get to work. Can hardly wait to try this out.

But first, I'm going to need a couple of new/old bikes!!! (Hmmm, is that what this is really all about, subconscious?)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Loreen Miller Ride

What is it about this ride? It either has to be hotter than hell or underwater. But hey, good cause, good ride, good food and great volunteers, so I'll keep coming back and one of these years . . .

Ran into a few of my SRV homies at the start. Last I saw of them.

Patty and I rode the 50 mile route together this year. This was her first-ever 50 mile ride, and because that just wasn't quite enough of a challenge, she decided to go clipless for the first time.

Despite the weather and those damn pedals (yes, she performed the requisite stop and tip-over, which can't be done gracefully), she persevered. I'm proud of her! I think she's had enough of the cycling widow gig and is going with the "if you can't fight 'em, join 'em" strategy at this point. I'm likin' that.