Sunday, July 31, 2011

Super Double Mandatory

A nice guy named Chad was over to buy some stuff I had advertised on Craigslist tonight, and he was familiar with this blog and therefore with the pump track and so I wanted to do a demo and give him a chance to try it if he wanted.

I've been really good about strapping on a helmet whenever I get on the track but tonight, since it was only a demo, and since I was doing just a coupla laps, I blew it off.  By now I'm sure you can hear this next part coming - I went into a corner too hot and planted myself hard into the track, whose surface is not all that different from concrete these days.

I bought lunch today and the total came to $6.66.
I shoulda gone straight home and went directly to bed.
I banged up my body some, which is fine, but I rung my bell pretty good, which is scary.  So from now on, if you come over to ride the track, the helmet policy is zero tolerance. Me included. Can't stand the thought of someone getting seriously hurt on this track. Just thought you should know what's behind my new super-double-mandatory-helmet-at-all-times-while-on-the-pump-track stance.

SEON (Super Easy Overnighter)

There'd been some scuttle among friends this past week about a possible group overnighter to the campgrounds at Riverside State Park on Friday night. The group part never materialized but in the process, I managed to get a commitment from Patty, and there was no way I wasn't gonna take advantage of her willingness to give bike camping a shot.

The original plan was to wrap up our responsibilities for the week and head out late afternoon, but neither of our jobs would let go their grip and we finally rolled at 6:30.

First off, let me just say, I had my camera inadvertently set to macro mode, so these are not the greatest pictures. Don't take that as an apology, just deal with it. (I'm so glad we can talk like this.)

Somewhere down there is where we'll spend the night.

Camper Patty, rolling strong along the parkway.

A place to call our own.

I pulled all the stops when it came to introducing
Patty to the finer aspects of camp cuisine.

Including the concepts of naked . . .

. . . and fully dressed.

After a night of sleep dominated by the sound of the nearby river and a relaxed
morning dominated by a good cup of Via, we were packed and primed.

But we couldn't leave without saying goodbye to our new friend Loren.

Loren was the only other cyclist in the campground. He was slightly more hardcore than us, having started in Cali and having been on the road 10 weeks, and having just gotten started really, as he was on his way to Boston and scheduled to get there no time soon. With just a few exceptions, for most people there is only one brief period in you life that you can do something this crazy and it's in your late teens/early twenties and even then you have to be deliberate to make it happen and it was awesome to see and hear about all that went into his planning and what he had experienced so far, and what he anticipated going forward. And it was a good thing it was interesting, because the dude could talk the ear off a deaf man. Seriously inspired, is he.

There were some things that surprised us and I won't go on and on, but the one thing that must be pointed out is that he's touring in a full face helmet. Downhill style - check out the pic. He was hit by a car a while back and he's not taking any chances. Patty and I handled it and turned it over and looked inside and holy hell. It's heavy as a rock and thick as a brick. He had just come from Grand Coulee and all I could think about was climbing that massive hill outta there while wearing an R49-insulated bowling ball on my head. Let me revise my stance from holy hell to holy living hell.

This is a shot of his Washington map, a thing of beauty.
As he's heading east from here, he's pretty close to being done with it.

Back on the road, Patty powers up Doomsday Hill.

We rest-stopped at Indaba for a real cup of coffee.

To be serious for a minute, here's essentially the whole deal about this post:  Patty and I had a super fun, chill time bike camping in the woods just 9-1/2 miles from our house.  We left late on Fri, got back early on Sat and felt like we had lived a whole day by noon. We were fully in the woods, on the shores of an awesome river, and yet there was drinking water, trash cans, and restrooms.  Bike camping doesn't get any easier.  Yes, there's a time and a place for more epic adventures, but there's also a time and place for a quick, easy overnighter in your back yard.  It's too great of an opportunity not to take advantage of and we highly recommend you check it out.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fat Bike Buzz

My enthusiasm over a potential cross-state tour on the John Wayne Pioneer Trail (begs for a worthy acronym, I know) next year has held pretty steady over the last few months.  Which gives me more and more confidence that it's not some flash-in-the-pan idea.  Casual research and thought on the trip are fairly continuous for me and are a great source of relaxation, as well as a righteous way to pass those occasional sleepless wee hours.

I've got my basic route mapped out here, and as I envision myself riding through the various sections of the route, I'm always on a fat bike.  You certainly don't need one to do this trip and in fact my friend Nate is considering a similar trip on a single speed ultralight 29er setup, but for me, a fat bike is a pretty integral part of my dream.  It's part of what I want the experience of the trip to be about.

And so anyway, I'm to the point in my progression on this journey towards the journey that I'm ready to be serious about bringing a fat bike home.  I've been watching this one for the last week or so and I put in a not very aggressive bid of $1100 at the bell, which didn't cut it.

Being as it was located in Portland, I'da still had to cough up another chunk of change one way or another to get it here and besides, I'm not totally sure it's what I want.

Reason being, is that concurrent with the virtual shopping, I've been hanging out on some fat bike forums and whatnot, learning a bit about what's going on inside the world of fat bikes.  And what I've found is that the species is in the midst of a pretty intense evolutionary growth spurt.  Fat bikes are still a little niche, but not that much, and I feel like interest is on the verge of exploding, if it hasn't already done so, especially in certain areas of the country.

I've had it in my mind that I want to acquire one as inexpensively as possibly, reasoning that a fat bike is a fat bike is a fat bike, and that there should be a decent inventory of used ones around, given that they're a bit gimmicky, right?  And that they've (thus far) been marketed primarily as snow bikes and we're pretty much as far off-season as you can get, right?  And while higher-end Fatbacks and 9Zero7's are in high demand and out of my price range, there should be an abundance of the more mainstream Surly Pugsleys and Salsa Mukluks in the mix. Turns out, though, that the used inventory just isn't that great and is far out-paced by the demand, as more and more people seem to be interested.  Used machines are holding their value amazingly well.  For bikes.

Other thing though, is that all manner of craziness is happening behind the consumer curtain at QBP, who owns both Surly and Salsa.  There seems to be some effort to differentiate the offerings, with Surly taking "fat" to a new extreme with the Moonlander and maybe marketing more to the winter crowd, and Salsa refining the current fat bike definition and broadening it's offering within that definition and maybe marketing to a more year-round crowd.  I could be all wrong, but whatever the marketers are doing, they're making me want a Salsa.  Badly.  And what's really starting to get to me is the desire for "a little bit lighter" fat bike (oxymoron if ever there was one).  I know, I know - weight is precisely what drives all manner of insane, reckless, irresponsible, dishonest bike expenditure. I feel amost as though I'm watching helplessly, from outside my body, as I become the next victim.

From the QBP website, the two brands are described (aka marketed to powerless idiots like me) as follows:

Salsa Cycles
Premium road, mountain and cyclocross bikes

Sturdy, no-frills road, mountain and cross bikes

I guess I fancy myself a premium sort of fellow.  And then it wouldn't hurt Surly to actually offer a frame color once in a while that was halfway appealing.  And then it doesn't help that there's a ton of buzz right now about news leaking out of this dealer-only QBP show called SaddleDrive . . .

For 2012, Salsa will be offering the Mukluk 1, 2, and 3:

Mukluk 3 - $1599 with a few cool upgrades from last year
Mukluk 2 - $2099 with sweet component and detail awesomeness (like E13 cranks)
Mukluk Ti (1) - $2099 frameset only with Alternator dropouts

Followed by this pic from the show:

Ti on top, "2" on the bottom

So things are not looking good.  The big question at this point is how far into my pocket Salsa is going to get their hand.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

I Feel Bad

That was seriously rude of me not to tell you where to get Bikini Blonde Lager.  It's at the Rocket Market.

And just to prove I'm sincere in my apology, I left some for you.

Okay, it's only one, but it's still some. Technically.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


To continue the theme, as of late.  It's just that it's suddenly summer, and there's so much shit going down all at once.

Item 1.
The Larry-H-Miller-Lexus-Liberty-Road-Race-Number-Two happened today. Another great effort by a fine bunch of athletes. I happened to be working a very rural corner and during a bit of down time, I walked over and looked at the barbed-wire fence next to the road.

It made me think of how Johnny Hoogerland's body got launched through the same thing earlier this week.  And how he got back on his bike and finished the stage, and then went to the hospital and got 33 stitches and then got back at it.  And there are plenty more stories like his, probably more dramatic.  Point being, I guess, is that pro riders are super seriously hard mothers. Different breed a cats. Shite.

Item 2.
It won't be big deal to you, but I put new rubber on the dogbike.  It's a big deal to me because the old rubber was turdy-knobby and the new stuff rolls a lot smoother.  Which is not a big deal if you're just running down to the park, but thing is, this is my only bike with pedals that I don't havta clip into and so it gets a lotta other neighborhood duty and downtown duty and so I think you can now appreciate what a big deal it is to me. Even though it's not to you.

Item 3.
Another 3-hour pump track tweak - can't leave it alone. It's always been my intention that this section be designed so that you can bank right, bank left, bank right. Fast and smooth. So far it hasn't worked out at all. I might havta give up on the concept - I think maybe it's too shorta distance in which to shift your body weight.  Not that I won't keep trying for just a little while longer, though.

Item  4.
Saving the most important for last: I've discovered the best-yet canned beer. It's fabulously badass.

Plus I work in the aluminum industry, so the can talks to me in more ways than one.

If you want some, you'd better get there before me. Oh, so sorry, can't remember where I got it.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Pump Track Rock Star

At 2-1/2, Owen is the way-youngest to hit the track so far.  He had a rough first 5 minutes. At which point he picked up and dusted his self off and killed the next 90.

In addition to obviously being destined for greatness on a bike, he shows up superior on film, which gives me the illusion that I know what I'm doing with a camera.  Dude rocks.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Stupid Shit

Work is crushing me at the moment and I've no leftover energy to ride, and therefore not much bikey to blog about. But I know how short your attention span is, and despite our differences, I'm feeling the pressure to not lose you. Easing that pressure, fortunately, knowing you as I do, is the understanding that it doesn't take much to stimulate you. Read on then, and be captured.

Right after I got my new camera, I took these two shell-dump pics during a ride on the FLT, right next to Queen Lucas Lake. Not bad for a waterproof, shockproof jobber, if I do say so.

On the same ride, I think, here's Patty, going through the tunnel, maybe just after the douchebag vandals hit the mural.  I could be wrong, feel free to correct me.

Peekin' the new cam through a gap in fence on the bridge o'er I-90
This next one is a point-and-shoot pic of a poster that Jacque gave me that hangs on a wall in the basement.  The krappiness of the image doesn't capture it very well, but smartest guy in the history of the world, smiling crazily.  On a bike.  I rest my bike blog case.

Like a lotta people, I've gone to the liquor store to get righteous, heavy-duty moving boxes.  Like a lotta people, I've had shit stored in those same boxes for years. Like probably not a lotta people, I just got around to appreciating one of them last winter, one night while I was rack-building.  I'm not much of a hard-liquor guy, but I can't help but admire the golden age of advertising.

That should hold you for a while, then.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

All Is Well

Clean drivetrain, lubed & adjusted, hi-zoot new chain. Freshly groomed and dampened pump track. Nailed a coupla 180's at dusk. Supreme satisfaction & relaxation rock my world for this moment in time. Peace out.

The Fourth

Patty and I hung with her family at Sunbanks Resort on Banks Lake over the weekend.

Let me just get it out there - we've been there once before on this same weekend and it's not my happy place. It's a little crowded.

But that's just me and I did my best to shut up and meld. From what I could tell, everyone had a great time, so as I said, that's just me.

But anyway, this is a bike blog and so of course I brought a bike. To my delight though, so did a bunch of the gang. I'd done some online mapping and as if I had a clue as to what I was doing, and the first two to misplace their trust in me were Patty's sister Heather, and brother Bruce. And even though we didn't accomplish the killer loop I'd promised, we managed some epic climbing and bagged some killer views.

It got a little rough and so on the way back, we had no choice but to seek out a rehydration station.  Enter the Electric City Bar and Grill.  $3.50 pint Irish Death's and I am not kidding.  Killed every last bit of pain.

So that was Saturday.  On Sunday, the big group was ready to roll.  Unfortunately, the massive power in my legs torched my chain before we even got out of the resort parking  lot.

Fortunately, I was once again righteously packing a chain tool and managed to cobble things back together.

No sooner had we started to roll than I got distracted. Ever since the Honey Badger Vid came out, I've been hyper-aware of snakes, and especially the manner in which they die, and so this caught me eye and I was compelled to share.  It was killed by a car tire and got off comparatively easy, IMHO.

The big group, rolling hard and proud . . .

The big group, posing all serious . . .

The big group, off-road, hamming it up . . .

The big group, re-visiting the hydration station . . .

The big group, on the verge of full re-hydration . . .

Gratuitous shot of a couple of my nephews, back at camp, downing their own cool ones . . .

I hadn't quite gotten my fix, so on Sunday afternoon, I headed out solo to do some exploring.  I'd mapped 3 different loops and I wanted to prove out at least one.  That there road turned out to be my best chance of making it happen . . .

After climbing like a bastard, I finally got to the top.  All indications were that this was gonna be a lovely 5-mile, thousand-ft descent.  And that's how it started - the roads were smooth, fast and wonderful.  The scenery was stunning . . .

And then I got to the point where I was supposed to change roads, according to my GPS.  Except that there was no road there.  I stopped and looked, rode past where it was 'sposta be, rode back past it.  Did about a 100X zoom on my GPS.  Shit.  This was the spot, for sure.  Looks like there was some type of road there at some point, but not what I needed at this point . . .

Super telephoto reveals remnants of the road I should be riding.  But it's not rideable, and I won't be riding it . . .

Damn, it would have been so great to loop back to Banks.  But still, the riding and scenery were rad.  Gratuitous shot #2, on the backtrack . . .

I'm pretty fascinated my the geography/geology of this area and so for me the scenery is pretty spectacular.  And while there's probably not enough riding to warrant a trip down for that sole purpose, there's definitely more than enough to justify taking your bike if you're going anyway.