Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Righteous Hack

Tonight, for reasons to be disclosed at a future point in time, I needed to redux my Ostrich bag/rack onto the Elephant.  Nothing can ever just freaking go smoothly, so of course there was interference between the rack and the fender, which resulted in the rack wanting to push the fender either left or right, and thereby into the tire.

Short on time and not keen on yielding to the will of either of these little bastards, I fixed 'em good.  Everyone's centered and no one's goin' anyplace anytime soon.

that's tape at the interference point. so the little bastards don't rub each other raw.



 If I do say so myself.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Webb's Slough SON: Ready Thyself

(If you're unfamiliar with the grand plan, read this and this.  There.  Now you know as much as the rest of us.)

Patty and I took the final recon trip out to St John yesterday. Yes, I know, it's the second such, which may seem obsessive, but plans have changed a bit since you and I last talked on this subject and there were some questions that needed answering. Plus, this ride has the potential to be fairly rad, so ironing out some kinks to that end feels like time well spent.

Earlier this week, I called Amanda Webb at the Webb's Slough office and told her that I was part of a group that would be headed out from Spokane on bikes to watch the June 18th race. Among other things I wanted to know was where we could safely park our bikes. She described the area where the motorcycles normally park.

"I see. But actually we're on pedal-bikes", I told her. "Ahhhh! This will be a first for Webb's Slough", she replied. And she then proceeded to patiently answer my thousand-and-one questions. She was super helpful and enthusiastic about us coming out. I got seriously good vibes.

So camping at Rock Lake is hereby out of the picture. Loaded with overnight gear, it's a fairly rigorous trip out to St John, followed by an afternoon of (hopefully) baking in the sun, watching some insane boat racing (guaranteed), and hitting the beer garden a time or two. Or three. Given this, and the hospitality of the Webb's and St John, we'd be crazy to spend the night anywhere else. We have the option of pitching tent at the slough or just down the road at the fairgrounds. Both have water and toilets. We can decide day-of.

We drove down to the slough and took a coupla pics.

Yep, that's safety fence, cause these boats have massive HP, and can 'de-slough'.

Amanda told me we could maybe camp next to the creek.  I think this is that area. Sweet.

This is a shot of one of the grassy areas at the fairgrounds - the other possible overnight spot.

They (the Webbs, I think), were hanging up these banners about town during the time we were there.

Patty and I had lunch at the cafe - wonderful BLT's both.  It probably won't work out, schedule-wise, that we eat here during our overnighter.  Shame.
I've got a buncha other details, but it's time to take them off-blog - planning from here on out will be via email.  So far, here's who's said they're in . . .


It's time to put up or shut up - and you should definitely put up.  Get on down with your bad self!  Whatever, you catch my drift.  Anyone not on the list who wants to be, email me at pat[dot]sprute@gmail[dot]com.  It's gonna be a serious good time.  (Bryan B, I don't have your email, so if you're in, shoot it to me.)

And just in case you're a little on the slow side and still need just a bit more incentive, here it is:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Philosophical and Technical Pump Track Hardware Eval

I poke a lotta fun at myself, both on and off blog, about my decision to buy a multi-hundred-dollar pump bike, in light of the fact that Glen has dropped off a coupla older bikes that are great examples of what can be had for a fraction of the cost, and that go just as fast and are just as fun.

But to be serious for just a moment (don't get too used to it), I've got zero regrets about the expenditure. First off, it's getting ridden a LOT, by a lotta different people. If there's one major cause for regret, it's a bought bike that never gets ridden, and this is definitely not that bike.

Second off, I scrimp in certain areas of my life so that I can have a bike slush fund. It's not huge, and it's pretty bare at the moment, but when I wanna do something crazy like the pump track, it allows me to have a tiny bit of money to throw at it, to keep the momentum going. 10 yards of dirt and the new bike and a coupla hand and power tools were super slippery grease that I was able to pack into the bearings of this project.

And at the same time, I'm so grateful to have Glen's bikes around. The track is a tremendous tool in terms of skill-building and just plain head-slapping realization about how certain thing work, bike-wise, and having multiple bikes to play with on the track just totally magnifies and enhances the experience. For me and everyone else who shows up to ride. I've fallen in and out of love and then back in again with every one of mine and his bikes. Multiple times.

I really think that this is one of those times in life where I'm not gonna be able to fully appreciate all that's coming at me until I have some hindsight perspective. It's a small little backyard pumptrack, but the lessons are huge. Lucky little bastard am I.

-----End Philosophical Rambling-----

Technically speaking, it blows my mind as to how two bikes with the same wheel size and pretty close to the same wheel base can be such totally different animals on the track.

The 'Cuda

The P.1

I set up both bikes last night and took a tape measure to 'em . . .

. . . a bit different in the front end then. I don't have a feel yet for exactly how all the geometry translates to what's happening on the track, but I hope that by the end of the summer, I'll be able to say, "Oh yeah, with that HT angle, you totally gotta get your weight over the bars when you hammer outta that corner." Or some stupid shit like that. That actually makes sense.

Monday, May 23, 2011

In Mourning

I spent a buncha money on my high zoot pump track bike and I'll be damned if some old-school resurrected white trash POS that somebody drops off is faster than my bling. I'm holding on by my teeth, though, which translates to under 2/10ths of a second per lap. Too close for comfort. So I spent a buncha time in the shop tonight implementing the latest mods that cost me yet another Franklin today. Meanwhile, the white trash bikes are just sitting there, staring at me, resting up. When you're the shiz, everyone wants to bang on you.

So this post shoulda been all about that, but then in the middle of everything, I dropped my camera on it's head. I tried to tweak it back to life, but quickly came to the conclusion that it's quite dead.

It wasn't even close to the greatest camera, in the technological sense, but it was responsible for at least 95% of the photos on this blog, which is a pretty big deal, when you think about all that we've looked at together. I've been ready to upgrade to something that takes better pics for a while, but I haven't been able to disengage from my companion. Suddenly, I have no choice.

I'm afraid about moving forward - figuring out the proper replacement, sorting through all the techno-babble . . . it's pretty intimidating. I just wanna be able to take some pics. So I don't have any choice but to lean on my westside buddies Alex and Andre, and my eastside buddy Mike, for some advice. You guys can expect to hear from me soon.

In the meantime, please enjoy the last picture my trusty cam ever took:

The wrench.  Wouldn't wanna be no white trash bike right about now.  But I need to let it go.  Keep forgetting - I'm sad.

Farewell, loyal friend.  Sorry I dropped ya.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

What A Weekend

I only rode a total of something like 26 miles, but great shiz happened - it was the bike bomb.

It started out on Friday, with my first overnighter of the year.  My picture-taking was a total fail, mostly because my cam was unknowingly set to video mode.  From the one relic though, even upside down, I think you can see what a lovely evening it was.  Fortunately I righted the ship at the last second.  John has a proper write-up, with actual pictures, here.

On Saturday, the mailman made one of those special stops, where they drive their van to your house in particular and drop something off that's not the usual door-to-door stuff. It was a mailer tube from Wissahickon Cyclery in Philly, PA, whom I hadn't ordered anything from. Fabulous mystery. Inside was a poster:

Just google SOPWAMTOS if you wanna know more.  THANK YOU to my off-season Kris Kringle for the compliment and the rad poster.  I totally dig it.

Also on Sat, Eric Erickson transacted for my Xtracycle.  I put a ton of money and energy into this bike, thinking I would use it a lot.  But I didn't, and it was time to let it go, and it would have sucked to have had to put it on craigslist.  Instead, it goes to a really great guy who will put it to seriously good use.  Sweet.

On Sunday this, Justin called and left a message saying he scored a bmx bike for the pump track stable. This is killer, because it's the 'missing link' in terms of having a pump bike on hand that will fit just about anybody who shows up. I can't wait to see what he's copped.

And finally, massive progress was achieved on the track this weekend. I needed, for sanity purposes, to reach some sort of conclusion. Not that it will ever be totally finished, but maybe an end to the really hard shit. Something feels 'done'. Major satisfaction rules then, tonight. It's a great track. I'm down with spending a little less time building and a bit more time riding.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Crossover #2: The Beatdown

Nobody should ever do this to their 49 YO body, but I, for some reason, was compelled to finish the second crossover today. It went on for many hours, measured most accurately not by ticks of the clock, but by hurtful blows of the tamper. Here's the sequence . . .

Dog's a big help.

The rocks will help lock everything in place.  I think.  Plus, I needed to use them up.

I really want this track to have a bit of something for everyone.  It absolutely must have a section that makes it easy for anyone who has never pumped to jump in and get the hang of it and feel the love - that's the outer loop.  It must also posess the ability to challenge and frustrate the more experienced riders - how else can you build skills?  So the infield is about that.

I told you crossover 2 was gonna be mofu badass and it is.  Undoubtedly, someone will blame their inability to ride it on my lack of trackbuilding skills.  Yeah, whateva.  Why not try shutting up and riding your bike.

Last shot of the last bit of the dirt pile. It's gone now.  Thank you and good night.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Two New Games

Session three is in the books.  Another great night of bravado and bullshit.

Two new activities emerged:

The gathering, organization and nerdy analysis of lap time data . . .

. . . and the free-for-all 'pump til you puke' (despite the name, no actual stomach contents were harmed during the making of this film, but almost). . .

As for lap times, they're nominally in the eight-second range. John turned a 7:30, so the sixes will certainly get broken into. It'll be interesting to see if anyone breaks the barrier into the fives by end of summer.  That would be badishly fast. It could happen.

I guess the thing that occurs to me and that I'll probably be thinking about as I fall asleep in the next half hour or so is that I can go hard at this thing for maybe four or five laps and so at 8 seconds a lap, I'm getting my ass kicked in well under a minute.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Crossover #1

I laid the foundation on Sunday (in the frickin stupid-ass pouring rain) and today the rain finally let up, so tonight John came over and we got it rideable (first by Maddie), and then pumpable. It's still soft and also it still needs some dialing in. No sweat, I'm all about dialing. It takes you from counterclockwise to clockwise on the the track, as viewed from heaven, which is where pump tracks are most appropriately viewed from.

Current status: Pumpable in both directions without leaving the track. Damnit to hell!

That's John ripping it, and if you're wondering about all the heavy breathing in the background, that's me.  Just finished a coupla laps.  Can't . . . seem . . . to . . . catch . . . my . . . breath.  Funnest workout EVER!

Next up is CW to CCW crossover #2, which is gonna be so much more seriously mofu badass. In my humble opinion.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


IT held off longer this weekend than I thought IT would, and so I was able to do more yard work and trackbuilding than I thought I would. I got some kickass laps in, too.

But I took the last one early this afternoon, just as THE RAIN started, knowing I wouldn't be riding it again for a while. You'll just destroy a pump track if you ride it soggy, so you can't.

As much as I bitch about IT, though, THE RAIN is great for up-and-coming pump tracks. Nothing you can do with a hose comes even close to the slow and steady infiltration of THE RAIN for packing berms and bumps. Knowing this, I wanted to get as much of the new crossover as possible roughed in and exposed to IT over the next few days. It's not even anywhere close to rideable or right, but it'll be a great base to build on, once THE RAIN passes.

Another great thing about THE RAIN is that I've  been so obsessed with the track, that I haven't been riding.  At all.  Which sucks, because if I don't ride myself into shape pretty soon, I'm gonna be too lame to enjoy the upcoming season.   IT's arrival coincides pretty perfectly with Bike To Work Week.  Apparently, then, that't my cue.

I won't be able to make the pancake breakfast tomorrow, but I hope THE RAIN doesn't sog it out and that everyone has not only a great start to, but a fantastic week.  I'll see you out on the roads, for sure.

And lastly, since THE RAIN won't allow me to pump, it's always great to live vicariously.  I know I've posted this before, but it's worth a second look.  Our little backyard track will never be more than mostly rhythm with maybe a little tiny bit of air thrown in at some point, which is okay, but it's cool to see what a pump/jump track can become.  Knowing how hard it is to pump myself around my puny little track puts me in awe of what these dudes (and chicks) are doing.

So all in all, I'd be at total peace tonight, if it hadn't been for this dig find today . . .

It's possible that someone was killed on our property, in which case the track could possibly be haunted, causing people to land on their heads. Or maybe one of the neighbors murdered an annoying cousin a number of years ago and buried the weapon in our yard. In which case, one wonders what happened to the body. Needless to say, I'm reluctant to dig any deeper than I have to.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sneak Preview

Tonight was the wonderful Friday kind, after a tough week, and I was able to decompress, shovel in hand, starting at about eight. Moving dirt, tamping, sweating profusely, shaping, loving my track. The kind of therapy you can't buy.

Big deal about it, though, was that I was out working until after eleven, in a short-sleeve shirt, under the moon. It felt so much like summer. Pure heaven.

The weather turns to hell again this weekend. The good stuff is a long time coming, but it'll eventually get here for more than just a day or two. I hope. Can't wait.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I put out the invite and knew that some sort of session crew would show up, and I had a plan in place about how I wanted to take advantage of whatever cheap, dirt-moving labor was at my disposal - maximum pumpability return on the volunteer investment, if you will, so that I could in turn reward them with the most amount of fun.  But never in my wildest dreams did I think the track would go pumpable tonight.  Nor do I think they did.

So we moved a bit of dirt and then it just frikkin happened.  First it was John, then Glen.  Then Jon and/or Jeff, not sure of the exact order.  Jake showed up and pumped it. Even me.  So, so, so, SO rad!

I'm the undisputed slowest, but I'm the engineer.  There are a few fast engineers out there, but in general, we're generally not.  Our jobs are generally to make other people go fast.  Just look at the space shuttle and Formula One cars, for instance.  I rest my case.  I was pretty much born to build shit and I've been building shit all my life and I do it well and so even though I can't rail it, tonight is extremely personally satisfying in terms of taking this fairly wild concept and implementing it in my yard over a pretty short period of time, which was a big part of the pump track equation, as I don't want this monster to eat our summer alive.  The last week, in particular, has been pretty mind-bending, as I've buried myself into how to make one of these work.

I'm all wildly spooled up with planning about where this thing's gonna go from here and it's gonna get so much better, but tonight's pumpability is a major first milestone, a righteous cause for pause and celebration.  Here are a few pics, then, from this wonderful, warm, dry, pumpable spring evening . . .





Everybody wang chung

Track-tested pump bikes, eagerly awaiting the next sesh . . .

Monday, May 9, 2011

All Is Right Again

Later last night, after a day of fulfilling my Mother's Day present to Patty by finishing the final details of the bathroom remodel, which are the ones that I historically never get done, which was why she so wisely leveraged her special powers of the day, I went to work on the pump track mud bog for a coupla hours, and then after that I wanted to square away the rear wheel of the Free Agent cruiser that Glen dropped off last week, which had wobbly bearings and a wobbly rim which I let bug me but which in hindsight I shoulda left the hell alone.

It looks bad, but there's laps and laps of pump track action left in that race.

I was too tired and then I was in a hurry and things went sideways and I royally effed it up and ended up with a wheel that no longer worked and after trying for a while to right my wrongs, I finally gave up and went to bed in utter despair and spent part of what shoulda been a really good night of sleep staring at the ceiling. Pissed as hell.

I wasn't gonna let this cheap-ass, worn-out wheel ruin more than one day of my life, so I did the smart thing today by taking a deep breath, setting all my pride and angst free, and calling Glen.  He made incredibly short work of straightening things out.

My emotions of joy and relief vastly ruled over having to face any realization that I'm a hack, and besides, I didn't have time to dwell on that . . . while I was there, something else sprang forth from Glen's pump track bike fountain . . .

It's steel, with rad elliptical top and down tubes, a Ford decal, left-handed rear braking and it weighs a comparatively feather-like 24#. Tonight I've got something way better to think about while I stare at the ceiling.  Thanks, Glen.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Liberty One

The Inland Road Race Series kicked off today with the Liberty Road Race. The series is something new and cool cooked up by the movers and shakers at Spokane Rocket Velo, and the Liberty Road Race happens twice, as part of that series. Today was number one.

I'm very much on the fringe of road racing in our area, but I help out with setup for some of the races and as they go, this one is super low-key, setup-wise. Normally I'm out on the course a while before people start showing up, but in this case, I was able to hang around in the staging area a while longer before heading out. It was SO great to see some friends that I hadn't seen for quite a while and just really made me realize and appreciate the great friendships I've forged while roaring around on two wheels.

After a bit of setup, I also did the flagging at one of the corners. Flagging can lead to some confrontations with motorists as you are [gasp!] holding them up for a few seconds, and I do what I can to be the best ambassador and wave and smile like hell, but still, some people have it in their minds to be a-holes and there's not a lot you can do. Today was fairly uneventful for me in that respect.  One of our other flaggers got blasted, though.  Its a given that one douche motorist will surface at every race.

In 20-20 hindsight, the only thing I'd do different would be to stop one semi truck, who looked like he was gonna get through the intersection in time, but then slowpoked, and then took the turn way wide, crossing over the centerline into the lane of some racers. Timing can be tricky and it wasn't that big a deal, but next time I'll just stop his ass, and not worry about it.

My office.  The wasabi almonds kept me at the top of my game, all day.
 When it was safe and there was no traffic, I was able to take a couple pics from my corner, paddle in one hand, camera in the other . . .

Fast bikes against a nice sky.

Fast bikes.

Fast bikes against a nice sky.

As the racers turned north on Old Hwy 195, they were greeted with a strong tailwind.  It was amazing to see how quickly they crested the bridge and vanished. 

Today's feed zone find.  Second Recycled Cycles bottle I've scored doing course cleanup.

Great job today by all the racers, organizers and volunteers.