Thursday, January 27, 2011



Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Tonight was the start of rack class series 2. Coincidentally, the racks from series 1 came back from powder coat today. So that officially marks the end of series 1. Or maybe the official end is when they officially get installed. I'm not sure.

Since John has been providing weekly updates, what I am sure of is that he'll post on his, so I'll not swipe his thunder. Ryan, on the other hand, doesn't have a blog, which obligates me to blab all over hell about his.

One thing about building racks that I love is the personal signature that you get to put on what you build. Ryan definitely signafied.

His is a pretty straightforward porteur rack.

But from the beginning, he was clear that he wanted a good u-lock holster. The design was his sole brainchild, churned over several weeks of class and conversation. It was tricky and took a whole class session to implement. Now that I see the end result, I have to admit that it was worth the effort. Pictures don't really do it justice, but are the best I can offer. You have to put the lock in the holster yourself, and feel how it wedges in, all secure, to really appreciate it. It kind of snaps in place. It's very cool.

That's my intermeditate length lock in the pics, and he has a short and long kryptonite of the same width that fit in the same sound way. Rad.

The rack weighs two-and-a-quarter pounds. Without the lock. The weight of the lock is off-center. This setup is not for children, it's grown-up business. Duly noted, duly signafied.

One other Ryanism worth noting. When I was his age, it was dual exhaust. Now, apparently, it's dual fender mounts.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Low Budget Time Capsule

Patty and I are finally getting around to doing something about our dilapidated (coolest word ever) basement bathroom. First step was ripping off the '70s panelling, underneath which was this.

Maybe it was random, but I like to think they left it there on purpose, just to say hi.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Rackufacture: Tubus Duo Knockoff Blitz Build

With the Elephant, it's always been my intent to haul the majority of my krap in front panniers, whether it be camping krap or commuting krap. For my first trip out, I hastily equipped it with a Tubus Tara lowrider rack. The Tara is super solid wonderful. Only thing is, it's kind of dorky looking, which is okay for the woods, but I feel like a tool cruising around town with it. So I'd been eyeing another Tubus rack, the Duo, which is to me, if not actually elegant, at least a little less toolish. The smart thing, of course, would have been to just buy one, but apparently my time is worth absolutely nothing, so I decided to build it instead. Oh, did I mention that it will never fit any other bike.

But sometimes, when you haven't built a rack for a while, you just need to. And besides, custom is kinda cool. My schedule is pretty hectic right now, so I had to jam it into a short window. The bulk of the work was done during a marathon shop session this past Sunday and I was able to finish it off tonight. Here are a few details of the progression . . .

Main structure.  I'll bend the "tails" to fit the pannier hooks at the end of the process.

I spent a lot of time figuring out the best way to attach the rack to the fork.  This is a rack boss that I've filed down to around 5/16" diameter.  It will fit through a hole in the rail that actually carries the pannier.

Lower attachment point detail.

Pannier attachment rail.  I'm crimping the tube where the filed-down rack boss will go through it, to increase the cross-section a bit.  (It will make sense in a minute, I swear.)

Fitting up the pannier rails.  In addition to supporting the bags, these give the rack its lateral stability.

Filed down rack boss poking through the rail and ready for brazing.  Hopefully this makes sense now.

Pretty much finished.

Right rack removed, inside view of the bag hanging off the left rack.

Not a great picture, but side-by-side comparison of the Tara and the new rack.  In addition to looking better (to me, at least) the new rack saves about 4/10ths of a pound.

For as puny of a little rack as it is, it sure was a bugger getting everything to fit up the right way. But I'm really happy with the way it came out. Off to powder coat, after which I'll be looking forward to loading it up and seeing how it works.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Diverted From My Task

I sat down in our home office-type-room to do some work at the computer tonight and flipped on my little 13" tv behind me for some white noise. In very short order, my work was suspended and I was glued to the tube.

That's because the machine came to life on channel 5 and last Monday's city council meeting was on. And under debate was the Transportation Benefit District (TBD) - which is what the much talked about $20 vehicle registration fee would fund.  The TBD is a revenue mechanism for helping to improve our streets.

But that wasn't the compelling part. The compelling part was the discussion around a proposed ammendment to use 10% of the TBD revenue for sidewalk improvements.   As I tuned in, a bunch of respected people were providing testimony in favor of the ammendment - like bike activist Barb Chamberlain, a heart surgeon, a public health official, and many others. (I think Eileen Hyatt spoke before I tuned in.)  I didn't catch the whole thing, but I didn't see anyone testifying in opposition.

The sides being taken on the council were no big surprise. But oy, the way they were taken. It's just one of those events that burns indelible images on your brain. There was so much attempted smoke and subterfuge, but the veils were thin, and the positions of our council members on active transportation were made crystal clear to me.

Apple. ANTI active transportation, with an axe to grind, as a bonus.  Bob couldn't resist the opportunity in the middle of a sidewalk discussion to declare that he has nothing against bikes on the roads (an utter joke, given his semi-private and downright-public vitriol over the past six months) and then without taking a breath proceeded to get himself, by himself, all worked up and declare that he will never, ever, ever support bike lanes on main arterials. Yeah, Bob, we know. (He got reeled in for going off subject. Ha!)

Corker. ANTI active transportation, and a rambling mess, to boot.

Shogun. ANTI active transportation.  Our Spokane City Council President sure is a dick conducts himself poorly. You'd think someone in that position would have an ounce of self-respect. As a result of tonight, his baby, the TBD, won't be funded, BTW. I could be way off base, but it looks to me like that's a direct result of his arrogance and unwillingness to cooperate on behalf of the city.

McLaughlin. ANTI active transportation.  Non-compelling. Sparing you the picture.

Rush. PRO active transportation.  SOLID. Smart. Speaks when he should. Doesn't when he shouldn't. Uses protocol to his advantage.  A great voice of reason on the council.  Frequently makes the president look like a dick silly.

Snyder. PRO active transportation.  Flippin rock star.  Bright as hell, articulate and highly worthy of public respect. He's bound for much bigger shit IMO, but for now, we're so lucky to have him and his integrity and energy on the council.

Waldref. PRO active transportation.  Not the best-ever persuasive speaker. Pretty sure she has our back, though.  No question whatsoever about her personal integrity.

It's hard not to be a little discouraged by some of the garbage that went on, but I'm way more encouraged by those of our elected officials who have the vision, passion, energy and smarts to chip away, against odds, at the petrified powers-that-be in the transportaion debate that is so important to the future of our quality of life here.

And of course I'm always inspired by George.  Who got to speak twice.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Bike Hangs: Not What They Used To Be

Last one I went to, things were fine. Then I missed a couple. That's Glen brewing tea with, yes, a tea light. Tom was nursing the cup of coffee in the lower right corner. Holy living hell.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Numbers Are In

Like any accountant worth his salt, I don't publish my year-end numbers on January 1st. There's tons of number crunching involved. Followed by verification. And then the numbers don't come out to be what you expected, so you have to re-crunch and re-verify. Then you spend a coupla sleepless nights, because the numbers don't lie and they're not exactly what you want people to hear. But then finally it's time, so you just lay out the facts.

Yes, I'm a mileage-tracker, and here are my 2010 totals . . .

Jan 136
Feb 96
Mar 57
Apr 174
May 48
Jun 267
Jul 174
Aug 205
Sep 98
Oct 177
Nov 40
Dec 45
Total 1517

When I compare that to guys like friends Alan, who has done 1000 miles in the month of March alone, or Mike who I know has done 10,000-mile years, the total seems a little lame. But over the last three years, I've been between 1500 and 2000, so I guess that's what my life can bear between work and home improvement projects and family stuff.  The only time I've done substantially more was in 2007, when I did 4000.  I pretty much blew off all my other responsibilities that year, including mowing my lawn, which ended up looking like hell, so 2007 was an anomaly.

The mileage metric doesn't end up meaning much, though.  Especially this year.  That's because, as I look back, my satisfaction is just off the scale.  There've been a couple of great new bikes, helping out with some killer races, the whole rack building gig, tons of great camaraderie, and just a genuine sense of fun and adventure of being part of the group of people that likes to get around this town by bike. But what's made the year so special for me is kind of coming to terms with the fact that my performance is diminishing with age, and ditching some of the riding that is discouraging and totally not fun because I can't keep up with young speed demons anymore, and of re-finding and settling in on what I love about riding. Not that I no longer want to be challenged.  On the contrary. I can boil the specialness of this past riding year down to five superb events that were damn challenging in terms of both preparation and execution:

CdANF group trip #1
CdANF solo trip
Midnight Century
CdANF group trip #2
7 Carless days

Here's a few random pics of those . . .

One other thing that's pretty satisfying is knowing (and seeing from the numbers) that I'm comfortable riding year-around now.  It takes a couple or three years to get there and a lifetime to fine tune it, I think.  But I sold my good trainer on craigslist a coupla weeks ago because it was collecting dust.  I kept my cheap one because one of these days I'd like to turn it into something useful like a bike-powered blender or something.  I don't have anything against trainers and my hat's off to those of you who with the fortitude to spend time on them, but I'm done with the gruel.

Anyway, I'm extremely excited as I look forward to another great year and what surprises it may hold.  I hope we can get a ride in together at some point.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Northwest Beatdown

Clearly non-bike. But it's hard to not get caught up with guys who are spilling their guts all over fields and courts. Especially when they all triumph. This hardly ever happens and it tastes like honey.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

90 Acres of Cool (and then some)

Patty and I were hanging out at Manito over the weekend.  As you know, it was colder than balls out, but the park was jam packed. I guess I was caught a little off guard. I expect massive crowds all summer, but seeing this kind of throng on such a cold day was surprising. And extremely gratifying. That all these people were bundling up their families and heading outdoors to get all crazy active as opposed to hibernating in front of their televisions.

I'm once again stuck by how it's just such an overwhelmingly cool place that was set aside by some people who totally cared not only about their own quality of life, but that of future generations. And how there are so many dedicated people committed to preserving it, in all it's coolness, and making sure it's available to everyone. We're a lucky bunch of bastards, you and me.

Looking down over Duncan Garden.  That's a group of x-country skiers in the foreground and another group farther off in the distance.

There were ski tracks cut all the hell over everywhere.  Beautiful.

Patty, looking all cross-country-cool, and showing off her new white gloves.

This is not a great pic, but that's a guy riding his sidecar motorcycle through the park on a frigid, sunny day.  Damn, that rocks!  He had a passenger and I imagine it was his grandson, but that's just the romantic in me.  I  could be right, though.

The park staff has plowed a path through certain areas.  Runners were using it and yes, you could bike here. That's a family on snowshoes way up the road.

These guys are clearing a skating rink on the duck pond.  There's another guy that's hard to see, but he's behind the tree branch and clearing a separate rink of his own.

A bit to the east, these guys had long ago fnished clearing and had their game on.

Staging atop the big sledding hill.

It was bumpy and rock-hard.  Nobody was complaining.

This pic is too krappy to make out the details, but that's a home-brew sled made out of two old skis.  It had a cushioned seat and it was boss.  (I think I may have finally found a use for  that old word and those old skis I've been saving for all these years.)

Dogs dig parks, but especially in winter.  The tail's hard to distinuish because it's wagging at about 500 Hz.