Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Shop night. Things are coming along mightily.

This picture was carefully composed so as not to prematurely reveal any facial hair modification details.
The pressure I put on myself was tremendous; the relief at having accomplished my goal is indescribable. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012


When you're about to doing something you're not supposed to do, and you know that it's wrong, but you still really really wanna do it, and you know you're gonna do it, you don't go around asking the question of whether you should or shouldn't do it from people you know will give you the answer you don't wanna hear. Which is why I didn't ask Patty what she thought about my idea of blowing off doctors orders to stay off my bike and seizing the opportunity presented by this bit of glorious late-season snow and taking my fatbike out for a spin in the park.

What you do wanna do when you're in my situation, is to seek out enablers, those who will support your bad decisions and perhaps even accompany you on your journey down the wicked path you have chosen. Which is why I turned to Brandy. And while I had solid confidence about which side of the argument she would come down on, I was in no way prepared for the extremity of her viewpoint: whereas I anticipated it to be along the lines of "it probably can't hurt to take a ride", what I got was more in the vein of "doctors orders aren't worth the paper they're written on!" Whoa. Settle a bit there, girl.

Whether she was playing me for a fool to get me down to the park (not a difficult task and probably the most likely scenario) or whether she really feels this strongly will probably never be known for sure, but as I now ponder some of her bizarre behavior during various visits to the vet, it occurs to me that there is a strong possibility that she may truly be philosophically opposed to the idea of healthcare in general.

At any rate, we did succeed in partnering up on this crime, just as evening was turning to night (we like to fly a bit under the radar in order to soften the impact of our off-leash digressions).

Low light mode on the Canon S95, not bad considering how low the light was (snow helps, I admit)

Another good low-light, flashless shot.  Think I'll hang onto this camera.

Alien at 12:30

Towards the end of the ride, on the east side of the park, I came across a few hundred feet of another fat bike track. That's mine on the right, his on the left. The forensic evidence was day-old and therefore cold, since we had some more weather activity today - I couldn't even pull a tread pattern off it. But a fat track for unmistakable damn sure. I followed it for as long as I could, but lost it at a busy intersection of cross-country ski and foot tracks. That's not much to go on, but I know for sure he's/she's out there. Who doesn't love a mystery.

My accomplice is now resting comfortably and appears content and at peace with her actions. As for me, does my back hurt just a little more? Yes. Am I glad I did it? Yeah. Hell yeah.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Something Really Special

Not to presume you even care, but if you were to wanna know what my bike head is totally consumed with these days, the following vid would pretty much cover it. I will never do anything this epic, but I have a plan to emulate the concept on a smaller scale.

I'm not here to tell you how to live your life, but if you dig bikes and nature and epic adventure, it's really amazing, so my advice is not to watch it when you're all rushed.  It's ten minutes of pure candy.  Save it for when you have some downtime, and can really get into it.

That said, I know you'll ignore my advice, but you can always watch it again.  I know I will.

P.S. The video quality is awesome, so do yourself another favor and make sure you watch it in full screen.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Performance Enhancing Drugs

Go ahead. Test me.

Just let me tell you though, you're wasting your time.

Because . . . ehh . . . I'm guilty.

Yep, it's true.  Reluctantly, I must surrender my role as your idol image.

aka corticosteroid.
aka 'roids, baby.  Four days in and I'm happy as hell.  Actually, first day in I was happy as hell.

The particular performance that has been enhanced is my ability to stand, sleep, tie my shoes.  I'll gladly accept whatever bans and sanctions are issued.  Along with relinquishing my status as a squeaky-clean role model for your kids.

To be totally serious for a minute, I'm extremely grateful to my care providers (which now include a chiropractor and an MD, along with radiology, pharmacy and insurance people), who are helping me effectively and efficiently deal with my problem.  I now understand, firsthand, what serious shit back problems are. These pills aren't curing me, they're just reducing the inflammation and pain to a level that allows the real healing progress to occur.  But yay!

When you've never been through back problems before, it's really tough to sort out your choices.  You get opinions from friends and go on the web and read, and make the best decisions you can based on your limited knowledge, but at some point you have to put your trust in someone who knows way more than you.  A little over two weeks ago, riding a bike wasn't even on my radar because I was fully preoccupied with whether I could function well enough to go to work.  As of today, my back problem has very little affect on my daily routine and all I can think about is how soon I can get back on my bike.  I know that I'm not there yet and that I need to be patient and do the work, but holy krap: Things looked pretty hopeless not that long ago and now there's a bigass light at the end of the tunnel.  And it's of none of my own doing, so all I can attribute it to is what tremendous quality of healthcare we have access to.

I realize that not everyone in this country can get to it and that truly sucks. I hear all the political mess around the subject and I'm not smart enough to even have an opinion on how to fix it.  Because there's no simple answer - it's a supremely complicated issue. Tonight I'm just selfishly really grateful.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


I was playing around with some new photo software tonight and accidentally came across some pics from a recent winter not too far past.

'Twas about this same time-a-year, 'cept four ago:

Yes, this was pre-snowblower (best money I ever spent btw, after last winter),
and  so yes, those berms were all hand-built.  I was a badass machine, obviously.

This is what we were riding on:

When that didn't work out, this was a pretty good alternative:

Snowbike aside, I'm not complaining. Just happened to notice.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Justin's New Deck

A smallish (7 x 9-1/2) porteur deck for his Rawland rSogn. The result of a solid block of Saturday shop effort. Quite rad.

He's on the downhill side of this project now - it'll quickly become a rack.  The eyelets out front are for some planned future modularity.  In case you're wondering.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Sure Beats Blowing

I've been thinking about packrafts quite a bit this winter.  In case me and my bike ever wanna cross a body of water, like say . . ummm . . the Columbia, in this fashion.

Not that it probably ever would be, but on the off chance that this were ever the case, I'd wanna know how to inflate it and now I kinda do.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


The Eberlizer was here one night last week and Justin tonight, for the same reason:  To learn the basics of rack-building. This first part is just about doing test pieces - nothing for real yet. But they both got to leave knowing they had just f'ing joined steel. Hell yeah. It's a supremely rad, master-of-the-universe type feeling, if you've never done it before.

I've shown guys this stuff a few times now, and every time it totally makes me remember and appreciate my own apprenticeship with Alex. I came away so jacked that I spent the whole damn winter in the garage making racks and learning hard lessons by the light of midnight oil.  It was fabulous.

Anyway, Jon and Justin now have the basic skills along with very solid, cool plans. Things will begin to take place shortly, and of course you can count on me to blab all the hell about it.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

In Limbo

So in the evolution of my discovery and understanding of what's making my back hurt, I now have radiographic images, thanks to a prescription from my chiropractor and the fine folks at Inland Imaging (Valley branch), who totally got me "in and out". It was an amazing display of medical office efficiency that I'm not at all used to and which caught me more than a little off guard.

It's pretty much a case of way too much information in the hands of a fool, but it's also pretty interesting . . . I'll try to explain what the chiropractor told me, after being filtered through the mind of a guy who barely made it through high school biology.

First off, I have a congenital defect whereby my tailbone (Sacrum) is in two pieces. It's supposed to be all one. Where the two pieces didn't fuse, my body grew a new disc where one isn't supposed to be, to compensate. Since the non-fused piece is off center, so is the new disc and the structural load path (this is the lone part I could get my engineering head totally around) is all messed up. Curvy and unbalanced. Not good.

Here's an image of the sacrum and where it fits into the bigger picture.

Here are a couple of my actual X-rays. You don't care, which is good, because I can't explain much of the fine detail.  The main thing that shows up though is that nothing is straight or symmetrical - my spine is all off centered and curvy.  Good for causing pain.

As for what's behind the title of this post, I can't ride and don't know when I'll be able to. Just working the back problem at the moment. I should probably be depressed or panicked, but I'm neither - I think I'm still in the mode of trying to process what it is.

The thought of whether I'll ever be able to ride a bike farther than the grocery store does cross my mind, I'll admit. But the chiro says I should be fine in a few weeks and I choose to dwell on that instead. It's definitely a weird time, though - after more than a decade of spending a majority of my free time thinking about and then implementing bike ideas, I'm no longer in the position to implement shit. If I can't ride, what's my new job? I just hope I don't have to deal with changing over from a bike blog to a swimming blog.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Thrilled About Recent Events

I now "have a chiropractor".  Yay.

I've been having back troubles for the last coupla weeks . . . not debilitating, just really annoying.  But they wouldn't go away.  And then on Sunday last, I did two things that apparently aggravated the situation:  First, I did a bunch of dishwashing in the morning, stellar husband that I am.  Don't know about you, but for me, leaning over a low sink and scrubbing charred remains off a broiler pan has always been a recipe for a backache.

Second thing I did was go for a ride.  Probably not the smartest thing, I'll admit.  But it was pretty much going fine, I thought.  Until I leaned over and picked up the bike and the righteous load, after taking this picture.   My back seized up and exploded in pain.  Fast forward to Monday morning and I could barely function.

I quickly polled a group of friends, family and co-workers that I knew had dealt with back problems about chiropractor vs MD, and referrals, and a hundred other questions, and ended up making an appointment with a guy I think is gonna be good.  Saw him this afternoon.  He says he can fix me up pretty quick and that we're not talking about surgery or anything.  Sweet music to my ears.  He wrote up this layman's report for me:

It's clearly designed to speak to the simplest of minds but is still too technical for me.  I will say that the pictorial representation of the pain is pretty accurate, which give me great confidence in him:

I certainly have much to learn about my back and how to heal it and take care of it.  But my main takeaway so far is that I have no business doing dishes from this point forward.  Vacuuming also seem like highly risky behavior.  Washing windows is clearly out of the question.  My biggest problem at this point is how to break the news to Patty.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Best Superbowl Commercial. Ever.

Spare me the dust. Sign me up for the splatter. A guy can dream . . .

Attn Jonathan

In answer to your questions:

With a load* it rides pretty well over potholes - no shimmy.  Although the crater-sized ones will move it around a little, but it always re-centers itself.  And I'm able to lay it over on it's side without it moving much.  I already totally dig the convenience of it over panniers for grocery-getting.

*Load defined as:

  • A 2 lb ham
  • 1 lb of shrimp
  • 2 boxes scalloped potatoes
  • A 20 oz bottle of Safeway organic ketchup (as recommended by Joe T, a self-described ketchup snob)
  • A 28 oz bag of Trader Joe's frozen mashed potato "medallions" (if you haven't tried these yet, you are missing a modern miracle of science in terms of the convergence of flavor and convenience)
  • 6-pack of beer
  • Box of "little cutie" oranges
  • U-lock
  • Combo Cable lock (because I always forget the key to the U-lock)
  • Tape measure

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Rackufacture: Introducing the Mod-U-Rack

Back on the 7th of January, I talked about the beginnings of a new rack.  It took a while, but today it finally became finished.  In between, this is a little of what happened:

Adding platform tabs

Bits sitting on the rough platform

Hacked canti posts that will be the mounting points for the rack struts

Jumping right ahead: All dolled up with powder

So.  This is the part where I have to confess that I am kind of a nut job and that this rack is pretty experimental.  But let me at least explain my twisted train of thought . . .

My motivation for buying this bike was never primarily for snow riding.  Although it was important to get my hands on it before winter, because it [would have been] a good opportunity to put in some saddle time and get to know the bike and just plain have some fun in the snow.  I had a pretty decent winter plan, based on our more "normal" winters of getting some daily exercise in the park.  But there was no snow and the plan crashed, and it's not that bigga deal.

My motivation for buying this bike *was* primarily my planned summertime cross-state tour on the John Wayne Trail.  I'm pretty messed up over this trip.  When winter didn't happen, it was sorta sad, but if this trip doesn't happen, it will be majorly tragic.  To put things in context.

And there are a lotta details to work out about the trip.  Many, many, in fact.  Like exactly what gear I will carry and how I will carry it.  And I don't have a bazillion hours at my disposal to build and test a buncha different racks - I will need to be spending quite a lot of my precious free time riding, if I'm gonna be in the kind of shape I need to be in.  So the idea I had was to build a really stout front platform that could be righteous by itself, but that would also have attachment points that would give me the capability to hang all kinds of bat-crazy attachments off of it, when I finally get to the point of settling on what it is I think I need.

The dull black button head screws fill 7 eyelets in this pic.  There are 9 in all.  Places where I can tie in lowrider
sections, or bedroll cradles, or packraft lashing apparatus of some sort - whatever I end up deciding I want/need.

Struts mounted to the hacked canti posts

Drilled and powdered platform finally installed.
A dyno light was a non-negotiable feature of this bike.  Because I think it will be so totally rad to do a bit of traveling by night, and because there are some tunnels that require light - most notably the 2-mile-long tunnel at Snoqualmie (I rode this tunnel in about '99 or 2000 without proper light and got schooled on how dark it gets in a tunnel that long).  And I ain't screwin' with no battery light.  I've been spending a lot of dough on the bike and I was getting by with a cheap ($50) B&M Lyt for the time being, until I could justify dropping $120 on a B&M Cyo.  Unfortunately, the Lyt disintegrated when as I was simply adjusting the angle.  Totally lame and disappointing - I understand the a budget light won't have the brightness or beam characteristics of a more expensive light, but it should at least have a case that doesn't fall apart for no reason.  Last one of those I buy, then.

So I ponied up and bought a Cyo - I own one already and love it.  Badass.  But there are two versions . . . the N and the R.  I own the N, which shoots bigger light farther down the road, at the expense of the 3 or 4 meters right in front of your tire, which is the "nearfield".  I figured that since this is generally a pretty slow bike, I'd like to know what's in the nearfield, for a change.  So I ordered the R.  But when I get it, it says it's an N. Even though the lens looks like an R.  Beats me.

At this point, you're among the 99% who don't don't give a shit and just wish I would shut the hell up.  For the  other 1%, there are attempted explanations of all this here and here.  Carry on, you one-percenters.  I'm letting go of this German marketing insanity.  I think it'll do the job, whatever it is.

Here's the new front rack in context then.

Stay tuned for coming attachments.