Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Limited Edition

A little over 48 hours ago, I posted a blog about some nasty bears. It elicited strong emotion from my readers, which says a bunch about my readers.

The ensuing whirlwind of commercial activity ultimately led to an exchange of cash and merchandise on my front porch. There was only one person involved in the exchange, and he dashed up the steps, grabbed a ceramic-filled baggie hidden in the corner, stashed an envelope, and fled. In my mind, I imagine that he was wearing black socks in an effort to conceal himself.

Putting this kind of deal together would appear to be my best effort at turning the south hill into south hill-yard. Not my proudest moment.

But anyway, I think he liked the mug because he emailed me that "It will join the ranks of 'heavy rotation'." I'm not sure what that exactly means, but I'm pretty sure it's good. As for the envelope . . .

First thing out was a george. Agreed-upon deal, mug for a buck:

But wait, there was bonus material. It took me about 2 seconds to figure out where this was going to get stuck:

And then it got better than better. Are you kidding me? A limited edition first fiasco spoke card. And while this is way cool, it's the note attached to the card that I really value because it puts everything into perspective . . .

Some dude moves to spo and starts a monthly bike congregation centered around the full moon. He prints and laminates spoke cards. The first ride is in the middle of summer and no one shows up. He rides alone. Undeterred, he keeps at it. The thing slowly grows. A mere 2-1/2 years later, the biggest challenge is finding a place that can hold everyone. The fiasco is now an institution.

And this is a relic from that first ride. Holy hell, that so totally kills.

That envelope was personal as hell. Thanks, Jeff, you rule.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Growing Up

I've been cleaning out my basement, based on the fact that I received some federal stimulus funds, based on the fact that it's a shovel-ready full-on disaster area. In the process, I ran across a too-familiar mug. I don't know where we got it, but it was in our kitchen cabinet for a number of years and has caused us great em-bear-assment at more than one family gathering, when it inadvertently came out of the cupboard, got filled with coffee and was parked on the dining room table in front of young, inquisitive eyes.

They do seem like happy bears, though.

Anyway, sometime over the last few years, it's been relegated to pen-holder duty in the basement, and now I've decided it's time for it to be gone for good.

So what's soft bear porn doing on a bike blog?

Well, I've never had anyone come out and say it, but I sometimes get the distinct impression that certain people wonder when I will start acting my age and move past this crazy bike phase.

If growing up means ditching the humping bear mug, I'm good with that. But if it involves moving past bikes, well, I'd just as soon stay immature. (I know that many of you are probably thinking that I couldn't grow up if I tried. Whatever, bite me.)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hooked On Phonics

I wish. It has a wholesome sound to it. Instead, I'm Freaked On Racks, which is way creepier.

But picking up your rack from the powder coater is pretty much the adult equivalent of Christmas as a kid. Okay, you called bullshit and I admit that I'm overstating.

But powder coating is the icing on the cake that you labored over in your 110 degree kitchen. It's super sweet.

I've only owned this light for a short time and I missed it so much while the rack was gone and now it's back and I can't remember ever being happier. (Oh holy shit, did I actually say that???) What I meant to say was, "Except on my wedding day, which was my happiest day EVER!" (Hi Patty :-) :-) :-) Luv ya!)

So obviously, this bike is racked the eff out. I'd like to leave it the hell alone now and I hope that I can. Next up, for a different bike, is this nonsensical, whimsical, impractical rack. Which is why it will probably be my favorite. It has everything to do with this nonsensical, whimsical, impractical marble that's been rolling around in my head.

I don't have much spare time right now, so it's happening in bits, but it's happening. My dog is actively supervising and has expressed that it's the best idea EVER, which she can get away with expressing, since she's never been married.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I-90 Commuter

I was cleaning out some pic files tonight and found this one that I never got around to posting about. Sorry about the quality - best I can do with a krappy iphone cam in one hand and a steering wheel in the other - lucky it's even this good. (Click for big, which might help slightly).

I took it last fall and to be honest, I'm not actually sure he's commuting. He's definitely not packing much extra gear. But I've passed him on multiple ocassions on my commute from the valley into spo after work, and since we're all commuting at that time of day, I assume he is to. Could be wrong, maybe he just figured out it's the best time to get his adrenaline fix.

I've seen him (going westbound) between the Pines and Argonne exits and pretty sure I've seen him between Evergreen and Pines. That means he has to negotiate crossing on/off ramps while he is going straight at 17-20 mph and cars are getting on/off at 60-70. One day I exited at Argonne ahead of him so that I could see how he handles these screaming, life-threateningly hazardous situations, but I was so busy figuring out where to point my motor vehicle in the fray that I lost track of the guy on the bike on the freeway. If/when I see him again, I'm gonna just pull off the shoulder on the off-ramp and watch the show.

He's obviously decided that there's some advantage to taking the interstate versus surface streets. Sure would like to know his story. Story aside, though, they should clone his testicles.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Reaching Out

Back in the olden days when TV wasn't quite yet total shit (and I wasn't so ancient and crusty and pissy), there were some great one-hour dramas. One of them that I loved was NYPD Blue.

The characters introduced me to the term "reaching out". According to one interweb source, it "can mean anything from just contacting someone to trying to convince them to help the cops to seeing if they need help". But if you watched the show, you innately understood that it was more. It was a very personal and sensitive attempt to connect with another person.

Look, I know I can be rude. And that I almost fired you one time. But there's no one else I can turn to on this. I've been looking for some kind of angle, any kind of angle, that would make it seem like you owe me, so I can somehow preserve my pride. But it's a lost cause. So I come to you in humility, asking for your help. It's a form of reaching out. Just don't get too used to it.

Anyway, here's the deal:

Patty and I are planning a long-weekend bikey getaway to Portland. We'd like to drive there, park our car at some bike-friendly hotel in or near downtown and not even have to look at it (the car) for the next four days. We're not sure if we should take bikes or rent them when we get there. We've been checking out hotels and shit on the internet, but we want more personal advice.

So if you know anything firsthand about Portland, shoot us the place that we have to stay and the one bike ride or bike shop or bike-only drive-through espresso stand or bike boulevard that we cant't miss, or the bike that we have to rent. Or your top three. Or your top three non-bike activities that we can get to by bike. Or your top ten anything. Whatever. Go crazy. We'll be happy to sort it out.

(Thanks to streetwise.org and streetsblog.org for letting me shamelessly rip these pics. My blog relies heavily on graphics to survive.)

So anyway, I'd like to express my appreciation in advance. And just so we're clear, I'm not saying this will make us BFF, but it will certainly go a long ways toward hot-patching some of the potholes in our relationship.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

When Cows Fly

Pretty sure I saw John Speare riding a flat-bar mountain bike tonight.

Oh, nice. You think I was hallucinating, especially since there are no pictures.

Whatever, I think you are hallucinating. I saw what I saw and over the next few days the truth will set me free and I will have to think long and hard about whether I will accept your apology.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sorry About Bailing

I really look forward to the Wed bike hangs. Good food and atmosphere are icing on the cake, but it's the visiting that I crave. I've grown damn fond of the hang gang.

Tonight, at South Perry Pizza, it was impossible to chat, harder even to meet anyone new and double harder to get service. I tried to scoot a puny little table up to the main table, but a server told me it was reserved for more important customers that hadn't yet arrived. I love beer and pizza, but I couldn't buy either. I felt like a second-class citizen. No, actually, I didn't feel like it, I was.

So that was enough of that and Mike, Sarah and I headed over to Hucks and had a coupla beers and hooked up with some other bikey types that wandered in and it was all good and I'm not ranting (well, maybe just a little), but it got me wondering about the whole dynamics of the hang and what we do to establishments. The FBC has been through this to the power of ten (remember Jeff's rant about The Maxwell House?), but has it come to the point that our relatively small hang gang is a royal pain in the ass for the places we choose to patronize? Do we inject just a little too much uncontrolled chaos into the controlled chaos when we show up? (I know we ran a couple of ladies out of the the Rocket Market with our F-bombs in the dead of winter, but that was an isolated incident ;-)

I don't have any experience in food service, but I walked in with cash in my pocket and I wanted something to eat and drink and I'm a damn good tipper because my daughter, who spent a lot of time in the business, trained me well (insists). So all in all, I bet I would have spent 20 or 25 bucks, if I coulda. Maybe more, if the beer started flowing. Maybe that was above average, but say everyone at the table spent 15 bucks, on average, and maybe we had 20 people there, well that's $300. Not massive, but it damn sure helps pay the bills and if you were willing to work our crowd and provide some actual service, you could probably bump that up a coupla notches.

We're entering a new season and the hang paradigm is changing, but I'll bet for damn sure the group is gonna wanna eat and drink after our rides and I think we have a tiny bit of spending clout and instead of begging the trendy dopes to take our cash, it would be fun to find places that would be delighted if 20-or-so hungry/thirsty riders landed on their front porch. An example of the kind of place that come to mind is the old Zips on 3rd, that has since been an Asian restaurant that went out of business and is now a family Mexican restaurant (man, you have to have balls to open a restaurant on 3rd!). Every time I drive by they look starved for customers and I bet we get treated like actual citizens or maybe even royaly if we show up there at dinnertime on a weekday.

Anyway, thanks for listening to my non-rant and I look forward to our next hang. I'm not pissed, but now I have to go chew on some leather.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Rackufacture: Essential Front Rack

You know how much rackage I've been hanging off the karate monkey and yet I have no way to haul either a pizza or a half-rack.

Holy. Hell.

Ideally, a bike should be tailored to the meet the needs of its rider. Geez, talk about a total failure in that department. Fortunately, in this case, it wasn't too late to take what went sideways and make it go straight.

Luckily, when I built the N.A.M.P. front rack, I had been just barely smart enough to design in some threaded eyelets so that I would have a place to hang a future porteur-style rack. I just thought that the future was, you know, the future. I had no idea about the recurring cold-sweat-too-vivid-surreal dreams of riding away from a steaming hot animated M&M's-looking Pedro's pizza, holding hands with an animated M&M's-looking bottle of microbrew, sitting on the curb at the corner of 30th and Grand, with their dumbass dangly legs hanging over the edge, about an inch too short from being able to touch the pavement, smiling and waving goodbye to me with their dumbass dangly animated arms.

It didn't take Shirly MacClaine to interpret this dream: I would have to build another rack.

The monkey hits the OR . . .

New fork eyelets . . .

Coming together . . .

Low-quality rattle-can touch-up . . .

Initially in this whole rack deal, I hated spending time boiling the moisture out from inside the tubing after I've submerged the rack in water to soak the flux off. But it's actually become quite soothing and hypnotic, or maybe that's just how sad my life has become . . .

I've never known you to be terribly observant, but sometimes you do surprise me and you may notice in this next picture that the crossbar on the N.A.M.P. rack is not exactly parallel with the back of the porteur deck. (Go ahead and act like you totally noticed it. Whatever.) Anyway, something really bad happened when I was building the N.A.M.P. rack. It's painful and I wasn't ready to talk about it then and I'm not ready to talk about it now. Bottom line, though, the pizza/beer rack is super-square with the bike.

I can easily picture a thick-crust pie sitting on that rack . . .

Due to stupid-ass diet and health considerations, there are no actual pizzas or half-racks at my house right now. I searched the house for a test load. Apparently, at some point in my life, I bought an entire case of Corona Light, but I don't remember anything about it. Wow, what a surprise. Anyway, the box holds a bunch of papers now, what a shame . . .

Uhh, obvious problem here with the light. I think I could clear the light with a half rack, so the obvious solution is to only buy a case in the daylight hours or make two trips for half-racks at night.

I noticed tonight that the bike seems kind of heavy to me. Can't quite figure out what's going on.

At any rate, it comforts me to know that I will never again have to leave a pizza sitting on the curb and I look forward to over-compensating about this unfortunate, embarrassing event by bragging about my forthcoming fantastic, high-performance, erotic dreams.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Gone But Not Forgotten

This has been a really tough week. I hope the one coming up is way better. I can't really blog about anything else until I say something about this, and I haven't been able to say something about this until now.

On Monday last, a cyclist was killed downtown. As he was riding through a crosswalk, the driver of a truck struck him, knocked him off his bike, ran him over, and then kept going.

I've been living under a black cloud in the days since. What happened was bad enough, but the attitudes that subsequently surfaced in online communities and forums put me in a tailspin. I should know better than to pay attention to the krap that people put on the internet, myself included. But there was no way to ignore it. Super dark, callous shit. Depressed the hell outta me.

I realize that some of it's psychology . . . cyclists live in fear and we want to look for what the other guy did wrong, so we can assure ourselves it won't happen to us. Motorists look at how hard the cyclist was to see, so that we can live with ourselves next time we have a drink and get behind the wheel. But still, it was cold as hell.

But that doesn't cover it all. I've spent more hours than I care to admit reading comments, searching for facts, trying to get my head around this. The conclusions should have been so simple, but they were not. The driver is well-liked and respected in the community. The cyclist apparently wasn't wearing a helmet and was riding after dark without lights. It wasn't the clear cut case of a day-glo-clad-LED-laden-rules-of-the-road-model-bike-citizen-meets-scum-of-the-earth-should-be-in-jail-dirtbag. It appears that it's rarely that simple.

I was seriously wrestling with this and trying to find answers and then Patty and I were having lunch yesterday at Taste, on the corner of Howard and 2nd and we were sitting at a window table, watching all the pedestrians and bikes and cars go by and all of a sudden it was pretty clear to me.

All the talk about personal responsibility and the fact that David's death was somehow his own fault make me want to puke. He was riding legally. Bike helmets aren't designed to save your head from getting crushed by the undercarriage of a vehicle, but I not trying to stir up that tired old debate. Nor do I care to crucify Scott Reckord . . . at the same moment that David died and went to bike heaven, Scott died the life he knew and went to hell on earth. His family was dropped into a bath of sewage that they can't swim out of. It's pretty damned tragic from every angle.

But here's the thing: There are a bazillion vulverable and marginilalized and regular folks that are either walking or riding around downtown because that's where they live or go. Some of them don't wear helmets. Some do. Some don't have lights. Some do. As a civilized, progressive city, we need to allow for this fact and for their safe passage. PERIOD.

Downtown is a busy place . . . human-powered humans are flying around all over the place. At the same time, tens of thousands of individuals control how and when 2 tons of steel they are sitting in is started and stopped and what direction it goes all the time. It's a lethal mix, and yet, it's what we have to deal with. I just think that it takes extra attention when you are driving sober downtown and that nobody has any business whatsoever doing it impaired. And that we need a way stronger sense of societal responsibility towards peds and bikers.

Thanks to John and Jon for the ghost bike. It's really, really important that Spokane remember and evolve from this tragedy.


To David: Rumor has it that in heaven, hills only go down and the wind is always at your back. I hope you're finding the rumor to be true.

To David's family and friends: No matter what kind of bullshit you hear, EVERYONE should have the right to walk or ride a bike downtown without getting run over. HE WASN'T DOING ANYTHING WRONG. I have no idea how hard this must be, but I hope that you can somehow find peace and some way to forgive, so it doesn't tear you up and claim your life, too.