Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Naughty Marietta

Now that I have your attention.

I really just wanted to talk about why my image/icon deal is snoopy. Maybe you think I have the maturity of a four-year-old.  You would have a strong case without really even trying.  But then again maybe I'm super-mature and compassionate and doing you a huge favor by not making you look at my face.

Or maybe it's just simply that the dude is so rad.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Winter Ramblings

The hot stove league.  That's what they call it when they talk about baseball in the middle of winter.  I'm not sure about the cycling equivalent.  Frozen derailleur drivel or something.

Anyway, I hope you had a good Christmas.  I scored a killer bike tie and handkerchief, courtesy Jacque.  If we're ever hanging out together and you have to blow your nose and you ask if you can borrow my handkerchief, the answer is no.  Hell no, in fact.  I might as well just get that out there now.

I was able to take a coupla extra days off over the holiday, today being my last.  Which enabled us to shift the normal 3-hour shop night to a concentrated 5-hour shop afternoon.  That's John's normal-size regular-duty rack on the left and Ryan's large-size super-duty rack on the right. As you can tell, both are getting close to done. These guys have put a lot of effort into doing things the right way and I'm excited for them to enjoy the great equipment they've crafted.  I love knowing that both these racks will get rode hard and put away wet, as they say.

John's is a mid-fork mount and Ryan's mounts all the way at the dropouts.  John's has a single attachment to the fork crown and Ryan's has two.  Did I mention that Ryan's is super-duty.

As far as any projects of my own, I haven't had much cooking up until now, but I'm just getting started on a Tubus Duo-inspired lowrider design for the Elephant.  It'll be how I carry my commuter crap later this spring.  It's gonna be a tricky little bastard, so I'm glad I've got some time to dink with it.

Other than that, I'm starting to decide that I need a lathe or milling machine or both, so I've begun the process of figuring out how to spend money that I don't have on those.

Lasty, Glen's Maddie-bike design has been taking a beating on the frame-builders list today.  It's pretty comical how some people feel "obligated" to speak up and save Maddie.  Umm, pretty sure she's safe.  And has the standover she needs, to boot.

Have a good new years and stay safe yourself.

Monday, December 20, 2010

upon my return

i was out of town all last week on grown-up duty and then the week before I was super busy acting all fake grown-up getting ready for real grown-up duty and so I hadn't been on a bike since the fifth of december and when I got back on friday it was all sunny and the roads were dry and I thought hey I'll take the elephant out and then the sun suddenly went down and I thought oh well I'll do it tomorrow and then in the morning john called and said lets do the bluff and I said ya and then while I was getting ready it started snowing which was fine and then we got to the bottom and john said follow me i know a super easy way up the hill and that was the last i saw of him

and most of the way up I longed for my eternal rest and dragged along the lung that I had hacked out of my body at the start of the climb but at least I didn't get lost for days because I could follow his tracks

and then we got to the top and drank some good coffee with glen at the rocket market and talked about bikes and shit and then later that day I went down to 2 wheel transit because while I was out of town tom mcfadden emailed to ask if I could use a really nice park truing stand and then I broke three fingers typing back yes and I went down there because that's where he left it for me to pick up

but when I walked in the door there was a brand new built up pugsley (sorry i forgot my phone-camera-thing) and it was positioned so that you had to walk around it to get to the counter and dave was pointing out how many rack attachment points it had and the whole thing had divorce written all over it but even so i couldn't quit staring at it so I went home and put a little tiny milk crate on the front of the elephant to take my mind off the pugsley which didn't really help

and then later that day mike invited me to ride along with some SRV guys on their solstice celebration and I ended up way the eff on the northwest side at lonnie's house and after a major boy scout fail there was finally fire

and then I rode home late by myself with a lot of people in cars honking at me who didn't think I should be out riding on an icy night because it was scaring them to have to cross a little tiny ridge of built up snow on the centerline to avoid me but i didn't care even a little and when i got home i passed out but in a good way and all the next day i was fried so it was all about looking at hardware and thinking about riding and finally tonight it was a monday hang downtown

and of course after it was all over i decided to ride up the steepest damn street in town which gets you up the entire south hill in like a block and a half and I don't know the name of it but it goes by the conoco station on third across the street from the restaurant that is something different every other month but I think right now it's a sushi place maybe but anyway this hill dumps you off right on the doorstep of sacred heart which is appropriate and now my quads are wasted and my knees hurt and my lungs are seered and i'm so glad be be back in my town, amidst my people, all re-bike-ified

Saturday, December 18, 2010

On A Very Sad Note . . .

From the Thursday edition of the SR:

HARDIE, Matthew R. (Age 32) Passed away December 14, 2010

Matt was the bicyclist involved in the horrific collision at 4th and Lincoln in early October.  He was riding down Lincoln on his way to work at the Apple store downtown.  A minivan, eastbound on 4th, had stopped at the stop sign and then proceeded to cross Lincoln in front of Matt.  He had no time to stop and collided with the van.  His injuries were extensive and his brain injuries were particularly devastating.

I didn't know Matt personally.  My understanding of the events as described above are based on information in SR articles here and here, John's blog posts here and here, and some information on the KREM website here.  I don't know anythying about the status of the official accident investigation.

But the accident hit me hard from moment I first heard about it.  I feel like he's "one of our own".  It's been heart-wrenching to follow along with him since the accident on a blog created by his family and friends here.  His sister's care and love and efforts as his advocate have been courageous.  My condolences go out to her and to all his friends and family.  If you're so inclined, you can throw a few dollars their way, using a link on the site.  I'm sure the expenses have been staggering.

Peace, Matt.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Personal Growth

The Pat S method of brazing self-instruction has left me plateau'd for a while, skills-wise.  Suddenly and unexpectedly, that's all changed within the last coupla weeks.  Reason being, Glen's been dropping in on shop night and packing all this great instructional shit about the right way to braze and I've been soaking it up.  These next two pictures are first-pass joints. It's kind of hard for me to believe I did them.  They're a long way from perfect, but they're so far removed from the method of spilling brass all the hell over place and then filing it off that I've been using. I'm excited that I know a little more about what I'm supposed to be doing/seeing and motivated by the next plateau that a little practice might get me to.

So that's huge, but there's more, and it is. More huge.

Tuesday last, Glen walked through the door with the Braze-O-Matic 5000.

It's where art and science meet, and here's how it works:

You set all the clamp points on the workstand and the Braze-O-Matic 5000 just tight enough to still be barely loose and it basically allows you to effortlessly position the rack you are working on at the proper orientation to allow the molten brass to take advantage of gravity and end up where it's supposed to.

So in short, Glen walked in and quickly identified and then helped provide solutions for the two biggest things that were holding me back from making better racks.  Damnit. So rad.

You're obviously wondering what ingenious bike part I put all these new skills and methods to work on.

Sorry to tell you that it's not a bike part.

You obviously had me pegged as a one-dimensional bike freak.  Bet you feel like a dork.  Hey, don't sweat it.  We're all learning as we go.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Guest Appearance

Glen dropped in on shop night tonight. That's like when the Bishop visits your parish.

For the first hour or so, he just kind of stood around, all quiet-like. I think maybe he was trying to fathom how amateur our whole gig is.

At some point, he couldn't stand it anymore and started demonstrating what to him, was some very basic shit. And which to us, was head-slappingly revolutionary.

We can't exactly make our hands do it yet, but we watched and think we understood, and therefore we're pretty sure in our heads that we've got mad new brazing skills.

We will most certainly face reality when we convene again next week.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Lake Boot Repair

Gear junkie that I am, I've tried a bunch of (too much) winter cycling gear. Most of it I could take or leave. But there are a few items that do their job so well that I don't wanna be without 'em. One such is my Lake boots. They cost a fortune and there are certainly ways in which they could be improved, but they solve all kinds of problems for me. Barring submergence in a puddle, they keep my feet warm and dry. In gear-intense winter, they're easy to get on and off. And they're comfortable.

One of the problems with them, though, is the Boa lacing system, which is pretty non-robust. One of my laces busted at the end of last winter's riding season (which happened to be freaking June, but I digress), and so there was no real reason to fix today what I could put off 'til tomorrow.

Tomorrow being a coupla weeks ago. Fortunately, Boa has a lifetime guarantee on their lacing systems, and they do a great job of supporting it. You just go to this website, order the right parts for the fix, and a few days later they show up. Free parts, free shipping.

Here's the repair kit. It comes with a boatload of krap including two cables (black and silver) and all the parts, tools, and instructions you need to make the repair. Including the tiny spanner wrench.

In my particular case, the cable had busted.

The repair is not exactly easy as pie. It took me about an hour. First step was to remove the adjustment knob.

Then you can remove the cable spool. See the other end of the busted cable?

Threading the new cable through all the guides in the shoe and then fastening both ends to the spool was, honestly, a bitch.

But the satisfaction is overwhelming.

And now I have nothing to fear but winter itself.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cross Country Skiing, Take 1

Patty and I traded in our downhill ski gear for some nordic stuff this year. After many great years of alpine adventure, I've had to face the fact that my thrashed knees just aren't up to it anymore, and Patty's never really had more than a lukewarm interest. Winter's long and we felt we could use another activity that gets us outside, so we thought we'd give cross country a try. Today was our fist day out.

We bought starter ski-binding-boot-pole packages at Fitness Fanatics, along with a Sno-Park Permit that's good for the season. Grand total: $650 for 2 people. Holy hell. That's might buy you one very humble pair of downhill skis and bindings. So there's nothing not to like about the value aspect of this new-to-us sport.

As luck would have it, Patty's bro Scott, his wife Joan, and their sons Ian and Andrew were in town for the holiday weekend. They're Montanans and super-outdoorsey (Scott and Joan's honeymoon was a tandem tour), and we've enjoyed rafting, cycling, skiing and hiking with them over the years. They brought their gear to town with them and mother nature's been in a generous mood, so we were all excited to head up Mt Spokane this morning, where they showed us the ropes.

I've heard lots of buzz about how great the nordic trail network and facilities are at Mt Spokane. I know very little on the details of how it all works, but it's clear that it's driven by cooperation amongst volunteer organizations, public agencies and private companies. Like Spokane Nordic, Washington State Parks, and Inland Empire Paper. I'm sure the history and structure is a thousand times deeper than I know. But what I do know after today is that the trails and amenities are wonderful and just an hour's drive from our house. Here's a warming hut, that isn't yet fired up for the season. It'll be a fun stop when the wind is blowing and the stove is cranking out the heat.

Ian and Andrew were pretty much baptized in snow, I think. They're winter sport studs and know their way around all varieties of skiing and boarding. These days, Joan tells me, they don't board much because it's too limiting in terms of mobility. They like the freedom, adventure and challenge of backcountry skiing. For them, this was a pretty slow day and they were good sports. We love their youthful company. Here's a photo sequence of them rejoining us after getting way out in front and then circling back around. In cycling terms, it's the equivalent of someone blowing you totally off the back on a tough climb and then riding back down the hill so they can get in a little extra work while they wait on you. As your heart and lungs explode.

There's some breathtaking shit to look at up there, for sure.

Downhill is still the king of adrenaline, but nordic looks to have the potential for some wonderful explorey adventure, excercise, scenery, and active-socialness. Umm I mean activity-based-socialism. Wait, that's all wrong-sounding. I mean . . .

Oh hell. you know what I'm trying to say . . . good times hanging out with family and friends who like to get their heart rates up and feed their souls in the outdoors. I'm already so glad we've added it to our winter outdoor activity arsenal.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Crazy Bastards

Sheesh, what some guys will do to atone for their Thanksgiving sins.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Joan Rules

Joan is my sister-in-law, on Patty's side. Patty comes from a big family that has great Thanksgiving gatherings. It's become a tradition over the last few years that someone brings a laptop and projector and we hang a sheet on the wall and look at something fun like a slideshow that someone put together. This year Joan bumped it up a notch, and in a bikey way.

Joan and her family live in Montana and somehow they have a connection to someone who was involved in the making of a certain documentary and this connection gave them a DVD of said documentary and that's what we watched this year.

The name of the documentary? Ride The Divide. Yesss!

It was awesome. Tryptophan was rendered useless.

This year, I'm especially thankful for Joan.

Monday, November 22, 2010

FMMWWE (First Major Media Winter Weather Event)

Tonight's hang was shelved, and for good reason. I was down with the call - it was pretty ugly at hang time.

But I had to laugh. KREM, KXLY, KHQ and the SR all piled on the whole "blizzard" business.

My dog was cooped up all day and needed a run, so we braved this epic event and went for a short ride to the park. I'm not sure how we survived. But we did, and now I have a taste for how bad it can get in places like like in Antartica and Prudhoe Bay. Not.

It's all pretty confusing, but the one thing I'm sure of at this point is that my winter riding skills are sick. And I don't mean the good kind of sick. Sick more like the above nighttime iphone pic.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

It's Here

Brandy loves snow, so she's all crazy wound up.

Me, not so much. But there's no escape. Tires went on tonight. Digging out my winter clothes. Oy.

Here we go . . .