Sunday, September 28, 2008

Proof That Bikes Make People Happy

This weekend was all about the house project. Both days started way too early and ended way too late.

But on Saturday, despite his prior disrespectul behavior, I hired Eli to help me out. He drove in from Post Falls, and showed up at 8. Shortly thereafter, he informed me that he had finished building his new fixie the night before. I had no idea this kind of thing was even on his radar, let alone in his possession.

Oh yeah, and he had brought it with him. Just in case. Hmmm.

The morning went dreadfully slow for him. The bike was on his mind. Stuck working for a slave-driver of a boss, breaking rocks all day, to steal a phrase. Until the boss suggested having lunch down the street, which meant . . . a BIKE RIDE!!!

The smile pretty much says it all.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Mercifully, It's Over

The Psychlocross Training Series, that is. It just got funner and funner. Four stellar weeks of inflicting and then living with the pain. And it's so comforting to know that this is just a warmup for the real thing.

I crashed again tonight. And of course, I had to land dead square on last week's road rash. Nothing less will do in this sport. As Brian Gavin put it tonight, "except for the barriers and ruts and the getting on and off the bike and the running and crashes and the fact that you're riding on grass and dirt and sand and mud in really awful weather, this is really fun".

On the way home, I made a quick pit stop. I used up all our triple antibiotic and gauze and tape and all that krap last week. So I re-loaded on first aid supplies and liquid pain killer. A drugstore that carries beer . . . they should change their name from Rite-Aid to Rite-ous. I coughed my way through the checkout stand because my throat was all burned from doing "warmup laps". Finally I was headed home. And then . . . "Oh shit". I just realized. I was gonna have to face Patty. I'll spare you the details, but suffice to say the grovelling was intense and unprecedented. Even a saint can only tolerate a dense, developmentally-stunted husband for so long.

All kidding aside, this training series has been so much fun and so cool because it was just this idea hatched by a cycling freak named Shawn Letson. And then Mike Sirott, President of SRV, jumped all over it and permitted it and made it happen through our club. And these four great local racing stars jumped on board to donate their time and expertise as instructors, and then it went all organic and all these people started showing up - more every week, until it crescendoed at 30 tonight. I'd like to use this forum to personally thank everyone who threw a bunch of effort into this thing to make it not only happen, but totally rock.

Tonight, we worked on holeshots (starts) and overall race strategy. Mike G broke us into the A, B and C groups that we will see in competition. Here are some pics and clips (still working on my photog skills, obviously. What's up with all the grass close-ups???):

In closing, I would like to say that I am totally stoked for the start of the season, so that I can get out there and shred what little remains of my aged, tattered body, in a muddy field, while it is hailing. Until finally, lightning strikes me and it will all, mercifully, be over. Cyclocross is so rad.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fenderized At Last

Done deal. Front went better than I thought, although (my) human error once again made the whole process slightly more complicated than it could have been. So what's new.

Mother nature can bring it now.

I know this stuff is minutia, but when you're buried, you have to celebrate the small victories.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Halfway There

Still desperatly clinging to the idea that I might actually have some time to ride amidst all the construction activity, I finally got done with house stuff and turned to fender installation at 9:30 tonight. Yesterday I was in a panic to track down some fenders for the bike that I now cannot live without - the AuqaVelva. I didn't need NWS to tell me it was gonna rain. I could feel it in my bones. That can only mean one thing . . . I am getting really, really, old.

I interrupted my work and booked over to Wheel Sport South hoping to find something other than the same-old, same-old. I was delighted to find the latest and greatest wide-ass Planet Bike fenders with this new rad mud flap. I [heart] PB.

Fender installation is so unbelievably time consuming. Back is finally on. Front is gonna be a little tricky and is gonna have to wait.

I should probably wear dark pants tomorrow, but at least I won't have a stipe down my back.

Joe Blogger

I got a nice surprise today when I discovered that Joe, a friend from work, has started a blog.

He's a pretty amazing endurance athlete. Last year he did the CdA Ironman and then six days later, the Tour of Pain. This year was the Cascade Cream Puff. I'm hearing rumors of the possibility of Leadville next year.

Within the past year, he took a position within the company that involves a lot of globe-trotting. I know he's scheming on ways to ride abroad. (Wait, that didn't come out right!) Anyway a normal folder would never do, given his need for performance. But I think maybe there's something in his future with S & S Couplings.

Right now he's in Guiyang, China. I was there during the early part of the project. I took a lot of bike pictures. Here's a couple of my favorites . . .

Gives new meaning to the concept of a tough day at work.

LBS. The bikes are so cheap that I was almost tempted to buy one to ride while I was there and then just leave it.

Good to see you in blogosphere, Joe. Looking forward to your writing.

Friday, September 19, 2008


Now that we're doin' this house thing, I guess we need goals.

Geez, I hate goals - they make life so tedious. I wish we could just live life and figure out a way to circumvent them. No luck on that so far. Tonight's "goal" was to get the bikes hung up in their new temporary home. I was so friggin' tired that I just had to crack the whip on myself all night. Brutal. But whatever, it's done.

Sorry about the lame pic. I'm so totally beat. Good night.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Psychlocross Is Sooo Fun

My favorite bike club, SRV, is hosting a Cyclocross Training Series this fall. I made it out for the first in the series of four a coupla weeks ago. I bruised my inner thigh so bad that if I had taken a picture, I could have easily made you throw up. It was purple and gross and in a bad place. I would never do that to you. I also bruised my shoulder from carrying my damn bike instead of riding it. Everthing else hurt from doing totally unnatural stuff, and I walked with a limp for 10 or 12 days. What the hell is up with this sport.

I missed week 2 because I am old and I can't recover from that kind of abuse in 7 days.

Tonight I was back to give it another go. Apparently my subconscious had been working on an inventive new dismount technique between weeks 1 and 3, that involves slamming your body into the gravel. Eager to impress my classmates, I waited until they were all watching and then I dazzled them with my bestest performance. I came a away with a souvenir to remind me once again what a great sport this is.

I can hardly wait until we can add some truly miserable weather to enhance the suffering. Then this whole thing will get super duper fun.

When I got home, nurse Patty graciously hid her rolling eyes. "You okay?" (She had asked me late in the afternoon if I should really be doing this.) With full-on-for-her-and-the-rest-of-the-world-to-see rolling eyes of my own, I proclaimed, "what, this little scratch?"

When the shower water hit the dirt-road-rash, well . . . "cried like a little girl" is such strong language. But when I got out of the shower, Patty asked me if I had heard any 'strange noises'.

"Like what?", I said.

"Well, . . . like maybe some neighborhood cats are mating", she said.

"Oh. Yeah. I think I did hear it. It's those damn Siamese", I said, without missing a beat.

A good wife won't rub it in. A great wife will help you save face. Baby, you're the bomb.

All kidding aside, I'm having a blast. The organizers and instructors are awesome and can't hide their passion for this rad sport and we students are all feeling it, too.

Can't wait to see how I try to kill myself next week.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Scared Shitless

We're getting ready to build a house. We live on a double lot and we want to build next door and sell the house that we live in now. We've been taking green building classes, reading, doing homework. The project started a long time ago, but it's shifting gears now. We're pretty much at the put-up-or-shut-up stage. It's all so grand until you have to start signing contracts and writing checks. Especially when the stock market is tanking worse every day.

In general, we wanna trade way too much stuff and a fairly substantial amount of relatively lower quality space, for a subset of our favorite, meaningful stuff and a reduced amount of really high quality space. And oh yeah, not got into more debt doing it.

We love our neighborhood, and we think that the smart plan for our future, given what is going on globally and nationally, is to engineer a better, smaller space that uses (a lot) less energy and water, and to own less junk (bikes excluded, of course!), rely more heavily on walking, pedalling and mass transit, buy local, and get even better acquainted with our neighbors.

This all sounds really great and easy, but I am here to tell you that the stress involved with even getting started is way over the top. I sleep about 4 or 5 hours a night now because I wake up buzzing about the details. Major angst. But in a good way, I think. I hope.

I promise this is not gonna become a house-building-blog. Probably. Maybe. I'm desperatley trying to figure out a way to keep riding through all of this. The first thing we have to do is rip our old, krappy garage down. Which is fine except that it houses all my bikes and bike-stuff. And just in case you were wondering if this is really a bike blog, here's tonight's first step in carving out a temporary space in the basement for the bikes and gear. It's just a start, but stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Blast From The Past

Couple or three months ago I posted about resurrecting an old fixie and stashing it in the valley.

The last line of that post was "I'm gonna love spending part of my bike time aboard a fixed gear again." Well, that kinda totally didn't work out. My battered old knees were just screaming for the mercy of gears the whole time. I've come to realize that fixed gear is totally cool. On somebody else's bike.

So Hank has been hankerin' for a chance to ride a fixie and I was able to move it his way. I've read and admired the way that John and Kent (he wrote a super-inspiring blog about the most and least number of bikes he's owned, but I'll be damned if I can find it . . .) and other guys loan and share and move bikes and this has been my first chance to kind of do that, so I am jacked. I don't have a ton of bikes and bike krap around, but to me it seems like a lot, and certainly more than I can use, and Patty and I are sort of hurtling towards this 'less is more' lifestyle, and . . . well, I'm seriously rambling now, but anyway, it was cool to hook up with Hank on this deal.

So anyhoo. Noisy, swollen knees aside, the experiment with the bike locker at Mirabeau has proven really positive. It is just so cool to have a bike secretly stashed somewhere in the city so that you can get there however and it is ready and waiting. So with the absence of the fixie, the locker was empty and in need of a bike. I looked around on CL and other places, but it is just such a royal PITA to go out and search for the right bike. You just have to trust that the bike gods will send it your way when the time is right. Like the way the AuqaVelva came to me. (Gawd, I love that bike, thanks Ken!) Or maybe they don't send the bike and instead send the message that you need to look around and make do with what you have.

So what I have, that's just sitting, is the first bike that I bought when I decided to go riding again, back in 2000. We were in Seattle and I bought the bike at Gregg's Greenlake Cycles. It cost me $400, which seemed like a fortune, but I was determined to have righteous hardware. I will never, ever forget the experience of purchasing that bike. I was a little kid again.

So over the years, this bike has just hung around and been used in a multitude of ways and it has morphed so many times into so many things. Like the dense high school dufus that doesn't have a clue that the hottest cheerleader is launching blatant teen-infatuation signals his way, I had to be smacked with a two-by-four to realize that this bike belonged in the locker. Smacked I finally was, though. I've spent the last couple of nights setting it up with all the dork hardware that I learned about on rec.bicycles.misc back in the day (while I was supposed to be working). It has been a restoration project, kind of like a classic car:

And now it's in the garage, waiting for me. I'm on my way.

Man, the memories are thick. What we've been through together, learning about traffic and weather and sweat and pain and rain and all that great stuff you learn about when you decide to get out of your car and get there on a bike.

Yeah, those are the weathered, cracked, faded, original 26 Inch Slicks.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


My work prevented us from taking a real vacation this summer, but Patty and I managed to sneak in the abbreviated version over the last coupla days. We were totally web-disconnected and when we got home, I was of course compelled to go online and catch up. I was gonna blog about some trivial vacation krap, but something much more significant hit me like a ton of bricks.

There's been a good email exchange going on among Spokane Rocket Velo members about what the weekly rides should be and who they should serve. I don't have any authorization to copy this, so I'm going on the premise that it's better to beg forgiveness than ask permission. It's profound, and reminds me what we're supposed to be about, as cyclists. It's an email from one of our members:

"This is a good discussion and I just gotta chime in. Here's a story: Almost 5 years ago a gal recovering from cancer/chemo treatments wandered into the North Division Bicycle shop seeking a new bike and a motivator to get back into shape despite being bald, thin and totally out of shape after 6 rounds of injecting toxins into her body. She was told about some riding options including the Spokane Rocket Velo club. Being apprehensive and having never ridden with a group she decided to give it try. First ride of the season started at the shop went up Old Argonne, Morgan, Forker... you know the route. About 15 miles going up Old Argonne she fell off the back. A few of the faster riders doubled back to provide encouragement and to tell her this is a 'group ride and nobody gets dropped'. She tried to tell them it was okay to go ahead, she knew the route and the faster riders insisted that nobody would be left behind, after all why wait for a gal two months post chemo. They waited and encouraged because they cared, and they were unselfish in encouraging others to seek and enjoy their passion. Almost 5 years later that gal is totally passionate about cycling including racing, recreational riding and everything in between. Had it not been for the encouragement of the SRV club back then it is hard say if that gal would have developed the passion for the sport. I am sure you know or have guessed that gal is ME."

By the way, this was written by this year's SRV female racer of the year.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Proof That Big Kids Love Bikes

Coupla weeks ago, we had our annual family reunion at Loon Lake. Four generations gather there - it's the only time all year that we're all together in one place at the same time, so it's pretty special. My parents bought the place in '67, having only seen it at night, under the realtor's threat that some Californians were on their way up to look at it the next day. Heh, heh, some things never change. It was one of the most adventurous, impetuous things they have ever done, and believe me, there's strong competition from a multitude of their other episodes. My folks have always lived large. It also turned out to be one of the greatest things they ever did.

Patty and I had our standard conversation, as we were getting ready to head out:

Me: "Wanna take our bikes?"
Her: "Naw, bikes are too exclusive. This is about hanging with the fam."
Me: "Yeah, you're right."

And then we normally leave the bikes and head out. Which is totally cool.

Except that this time, I was bored with my role and formulated a different response:

Me: "Wanna take our bikes?"
Her: "Naw, bikes are too exclusive. This is about hanging with the fam."
Me: "Well then, let's make them inclusive."

That was a weird comment that pretty much stopped the conversation dead in it's tracks. Patty stared at me with her half-bewildered, half-annoyed look as I headed out to the shop. Five minutes later, I was back with my sign, and I got it approved without a lot of trouble. So along with way too much other krap, I loaded the bikes and the sign. When we got to the lake, my first order of business was was to hang the sign and stage the bikes:

I honestly thought they might sit there all weekend. And that would have been fine with me, because I really had no expectations and besides, Patty is spot on, the weekend is so about hanging with the fam.

But I was delighted to find that my family was drawn to the bikes like moths to a porch light. First out was my nephew Eli (the punk), who's parents apparently never taught him the concept of respecting his elders, as he dropped me about every way that an elder can be dropped. He will get old someday and get his just rewards. I will be dead by then, but I will be laughing from my grave.

Pathetic camera work on my part, but check out that backdrop. Adam (nephew) and wife, Amy, proud parents of irresistable, center-of-attention-just-about-to-be-toddler Wren.

My big bro Dan.

Sister Karen, and son Leo (brother of elder-disrespecter Eli).

Chris, father of elder-disrespecter Eli, and of course, Eli (who appeared on just about every ride). Probably dropped his own father on this ride.

Nephew Matt, who turned his ride into a railroad/trespass excursion that makes me feel like a pudding-sucking lightweight.

I'm thinkin' we'll take the bikes again next year. Mary, how 'bout a ride???

Thursday, September 4, 2008

"Brand New Just A Week Old"

The phrase isn't mine. It's from a recent NYCBS post that left an impression.

And then, as fate would have it, our very own Spokane craigslist produced this add that takes the whole concept to the next level:

The link will eventually die, so here's the text:

"nice mountian bike. brand new.all it needs is a new chain.Its rusted.This bike is new.It can be repaired.It set out in the for info"


Can't We All Just Duck?

What is up with everyone banging their heads lately???? First me. Then Jacque's buddy. Now this guy tonight. This latest one really blows, because it's the pedestrian bridge over I-90 just west of Freya. These bridges are jewels in our bike/ped infrastructure. And I was having such a good night, too.

The picture quality is really poor because the light was gone, but it's a big-ass steel cylinder on a flat-bed semi. Top of the cylinder caught the bridge. Trust me when I tell you that there is significant damage to the bridge. It's closed to pedestrian traffic and they'll no doubt have structural engineers crawling all over that thing in the near future. Hard to say what the long term picture is, but for sure it will be closed in the short term.

It's hard for me to throw stones, but I'm kinda pissed about this. Pal, you're supposed to be a professional. I would have given you a whole roll of duct tape. And for crying out loud, if you're gonna hit a bridge, make it a car bridge!


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Psychlocross Season Is Here!

On this, the eve of the unofficial beginning of the 2008 Spokane cross season, I offer you this classic, archived advice . . . and a little piece of footage to remind you of the joy that's coming your way . . .

Best wishes for a joy-filled, injury-free fall racing season.

the Egg Master

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Fun In The Park After Dark

On our daily/nightly ride-run into Manito, me 'n the fris-dawg ran across more awesome free entertainment. This time, the ultimate night light . . . a hot air balloon going nowhwere fast . . . parked in the park for show, and every time they'd fire the burner, what a show!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Saving Myself From Me

My first road trip since the close call.

I'm not taking any chances. (Click the pic to enlarge.)

Yet another great use for duct tape.