Sunday, September 30, 2012


33? As in one degree away from frozen water? Don't believe me? Check it out for yourself. Holy krap.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Pumping. Fatly.

Let's see . . . I have a backyard pump track. And I have a fatbike. Hmmm.

You knew this was coming, sooner or later.

Friday, September 28, 2012


I told you I was done with the days-of-the-week thing. Guess I lied. Friday is fry-day. San Diego was rough. If anyone deserves some comfort food, it would be me.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Business Trips

Oy, they can be so brutal.

Only because this is a bike blog, and it's my duty.

I wish I could ignore a bike every once in a while, it's a curse.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sunset On The Bluff

Umm, yeah, a bit of photoshopping going on here, just goofing around. Lots of red/orange/yellows in the sky to play with, on these evenings of late.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


I had ambitious plans for this day, with even more ambitions about how to integrate my new bike into what needed to get done.

First off, I was supposed to get up early and get out to Loon Lake, where my family has a cabin, and pull the family boat out of the water. This is an annual drill (actually there are two of them - putting it in at the beginning of summer and pulling it out at the end) that involves driving the boat from the cabin, at one end of the lake, to the the public launch, at the other, and pulling it out with your truck and trailer.  Thing is, it's a major challenge to drive the boat and the truck down there at the same time. So it usually involves rounding up someone else to go with you and drive the truck and/or boat while you drive the other, and people have schedules and lots of stuff to do and it's just a hassle to organize.  So I figured out a few years back that it's just way easier to do the gig with your other buddy - your bike.

So how it goes is that load your bike in your truck and then drive your truck 'n trailer to the launch and park 'em both. Then you get your bike outta the back 'o your truck and ride it back to the cabin.  Then you load your bike in your boat and drive it over to the launch.  Once there, all your equipment is reunited and you are free to assemble and transport it all back to Spo for the winter.  Ta-da!

So all that's fine and well and you'd think that by now I'd know that it takes more than a coupla hours, but true to my nature I was once again overly-optimistic and figured that I could get out and do the job and then get back to town and ride said bike off-road out to 7-mile in time to catch some of the Men 4-5 and all of the M/W 1-2-3 cyclocross races at Riverside.

What I failed to account for is that the ride from the launch to the cabin is not flat, because lakes don't form on flat surfaces. Just sayin'. And I knew this, but still, I over-optimized. And then I was in a hurry, so I pushed it. Which left me with a less-than-ideal amount of gas in the tank when I got back to Spo. But still, I was determined to hit every damn trail on my rad new singletrack-eating machine on the way out to 7-mile, starting with the bluff.

Heh. That particular rocky section at the top of the bluff trails, just below 25th, that launched me over the bars and landed me on my head last time I rode it, thereby cleaning my clock?  Look who's cleaning who now! YOW!!!

Mathematics is/are cruel, and by the time I got back to Spo, there was no doubt that making it out in time for the M/4-5 race was out of the question. But I had great optimism that I could make it in time for most, if not all, of the M/W 1-2-3 race. It's a 55 minute-long-race, so that's a huge window to fit, if not fall, through.

Boy, is it a long way out to 7-mile on the trails. At some point, I realized that my only hope was to get off the dirt and onto the paved CT.  And that's when things got even sloggier. The stock tires don't roll so well on tarmac. As well they should not.

Yay for me. Plan and execute. I arrived just in time for the race to have already ended. The only thing funner than the ride out was the I'm-now-totally-wasted ride back.

All is not lost, though.  The good that came out of all of this, and honestly the major point of it all, is that I spent a bunch of time aboard my new ride. While I don't yet know it well, I am certainly getting to know it. And it continues to be a pleasure to make it's acquaintance.

With that, I conclude my spontaneous, makes-no-sense, "Days Of The Week" mini-series. There will be no post titled 'Monday'. It's over, as it should be.

The pictures here are kind of really lame, I know. Hey, I was busy riding. I did stop on the way back and take some senior pictures for an upcoming post about the bike, so I guess if you read between the lines, what you might hear me saying is that I'm not happy about this and I'll try to do better.

Hope you had a good weekend. Now get your ass back to work.


No riding happened today. It was filled with family commitment-type stuff. But at the end of the day, I was able to carve out a coupla hours in the shop to install my new dropper post. This whole dropper deal is so huge. I'll talk about it more, later. I'm out of gas for now.

Friday, September 21, 2012


I took it off, in order to chip away at some to-do's . . . the most important being the finishing of the paver walkway that's part of the back forty renovation. The dangling carrot was an afternoon ride on my new bike, if I was a good boy and did my chores. You would NOT BELIEVE how early I got up and how fast all that shit got done.

Fast forward then, to the afternoon ride. This was the group I hooked up with. Skilly is making a point of some sort, but it's possible that it makes no sense, since it's possible that he was oxygen-deprived, considering the bigass climb we'd all just done, on the other side of the white gate.  This would be the perfect photo for a "What Is Skilly Saying" caption contest.

At one point, there was a bit of umm . . . separation ("lost" is such a strong term).  It was tense, two guys lost in the woods, facing who knows what kind of natural challenges.  Rick set up a command post with his cell.  It was scarier than it looks.  Hey, how did my new bike get in the photo???

Alright, let's get halfway-serious for a moment. We ripped around pretty seriously at Riverside for a couple of hours and holy krap, if I wasn't blown away by this bike. The two biggest things were, joy-of-joys, proper hydro brakes (my single-biggest motivation for changing bikes), and the previously-unbeknownst-to-me wonder of slack head angle front end geometry on single track.

Like me, I'm sure you've been wondering what a guy my age, in the shape I'm in, and with the limited skills I have, is doing on a bike like this.  I keep some fairly tight reigns on my bike budget and this purchase stretched it to the point that I had to pull some strings.  I've been super-seriously wondering if I'd made a majorly big mistake, visualizing myself as belonging on such a serious machine, with my failing knees and diminishing courage and all else that goes with getting older. All I can tell you is that it was a calling, and a magnetic force-field one.

I'm happy to report that after just one ride, all my fears and apprehensions have been furiously dispelled.  I can totally not remember when I have had more fun on a ride.  I could ask a friend to peel me off the ceiling, I suppose, but why would I? I'm pretty into being stuck up there right now. I'm not only planning the next ride, but four or five down the road. Cripes. I may have died and gone to heaven.

In more worldly news though, it was dusty out there today. Lucky I had my new rims. Heh.

I'm afraid this bike has seen its last day in the living room. Damn. It was good while it lasted.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Some Days Are Just Better. WAY Better.

I'd already planned to cut out of work a little early today. Hooky is such a jaded term;  I consider it a worthy, if not critical, cause . . . I needed to get A-Wat's after-work ride club acquainted with the pump track.

And then I got a call. From Geoff, at Two Wheel Transit. My new bike had not only arrived, but had been built up and was ready to be united with me. This very afternoon! Bejeezuz, what to do.

Deliberations really didn't last that long: No other choice than to skim a few more minutes off my workday, pick up the bike, and still arrive at the pump sesh on time.  Thing is, the last item on the day's calendar was Skilly's meeting, and I did show up, and I cared (truly), and I wanted to see it through, but the long-winded dude just kept going. On and on and on. Meanwhile, my new bike was calling, no screaming, "COME AND GET ME!!!"  I finally succumbed and bailed.

I did pick up the bike and it's badass. It deserve's it's own post, which it shall have. Or four. It's that badass.

And we did finally assemble trackside. I bugled, via text, some of the regulars and John was also able to join us.  A-Wat, Skilly, Jason, John, and me were the cast that settled out, then. Game on.

Jason took to the track like a fish to water. 

You know how John's been talking about how his career transition has been messing with his head? Apparently he brought his aura with him.  Check out the pic below, if you don't believe me.

Seriously though, despite  being "mentally consumed" or whatever he's calling it,
he was the fastest on the track. By far. Mentally consumed, my ass.

Skilly finally ended his long-winded meeting and showed up, ready to ride. Check out the supreme concentration. Awesome.

Somehow I missed getting any pictures of A-Wat, who as-of-late is sporting stitches in his forehead from his over-the-bars meeting with mother earth.  He pretty much came out of nowhere to tear up the track with his rad ax and then as suddenly as he had appeared, he was gone.

Meanwhile, Jason was about to win the award for best crash of the sesh.  See how his front tire is riding right on top of the berm? That's not such a good thing, when you're trying to generate sideways force. He and the stump ended up getting better acquainted and we shall leave it at that.

I totally love this next pic.  That's Jason's son, Aiden, on the stump.  Digging the ol' man, doing rad things on a bike.  Poor kid doesn't stand a chance . . . at 2-1/2, I'm afraid it's too late. This and probably many other similar images that Jason's exposed him to are burned into his psyche and he's doomed to live life as a bike nerd.

Other than that, it feels like Christmas. The only thing that could possibly make it more so would be an actual fire in the fireplace.

No bike should have to spend its first night at home in the basement, or the garage.
And since I'm gonna spend all night looking at it anyway, why should I be in the basement, or the garage.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Is REI an LBS?

For the longest time, I've had REI's website linked, on the RH sidebar of this blog, on the list that falls under the heading titled "Support Your LBS".

At the time I built the list, I had a friend and friends-of-this-friend working there, and it seemed pretty justifiable to include Goliath on the list of Davids, since wages were being paid to locals (albeit out of giant corporate coffers) and therefore funelling back into the Spo economy. And more importantly, because I would be a hypocrite, since I spend money there and since I've been touched by their terrific service, including warranty service, that really focuses, at the macro level, on making you feel like you matter. Because you do, at the macro level. And let's be real - they have tons of low and mid range shit in stock, that targets your macro, mainstream bike consumer appetite, because they have such amazing buying power.
Having the link there has always naggled at me a bit, but I was able to file it into the low-level buzz folder, so it was easy to ignore. Or in other words, not enough to do anything about it.

I was treated to an amazing conversation tonight, with someone who understands Spokane bike business extremely well. I learned a lot, but the big head-slapping, how-could-I-have-not-understood-this moment was when he explained to me how much pressure REI puts on our LBS's, with their annual sales events and 20% discounts and all the marketing hypnotism they possess. Which translates to how much bike revenue they suck up and effectively limits how many LBS's our community can support and what said LBS's can do in terms of living wages and benefits for their employees.

So back to the original question: "Is REI an LBS?" They're certainly working hard to make you think they are.

I'm channeling Dustin Hoffman's character from Rain Man at this point: "Definitely not. Definitely not." Can't believe it took me this long to reach that conclusion.

I've no intent to slam REI. The answer to the question of where and how to responsibly and valuably spend your bike dollars isn't simple. As of tonight, though, REI's off my LBS list. I'm human and therefore attracted to their clothes and camping gear and all other manner of outdoor bling and when I need some bike part at 7:30 at night and no one else is open (let me just be honest) I'm glad they're here. And I'll walk through their doors many times again and they'll certainly welcome me back as one of their fine macro customers, but I'll think a lot harder about the coin I'm dropping and who's pocket it's dropping into and especially with bike stuff, how my spending is affecting our true LBS's.

There's still only one place you can get real, micro (aka "personal") service and that's at the LBS level, and just speaking for me, it's important. So I'll be putting some money where my mouth is.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Dysfunctional Bike Rack Love

This had to have been designed by a blind-since-birth inventor who had the form of the common bicycle grossly inadequately described to him.  Or by someone who was willing to bet their rack-building career on the conviction that bikes in the near future would be getting super skinny. Or something along these lines, I'm not exactly sure. Don Quixote on acid?  Is the "handle" so that you can pick up your 10-pack of bikes? Or maybe I'm totally missing something and doing it all wrong?

It's totally endearing in it's wackiness, though. On the very rare occasion that I ride my bike to and park it at the Conoco station at 29th and Grand, hitching my steed up to this post is a treat. Somewhere out there is someone who didn't get the memo that they were supposed to be marching to the tune of a drummer, let alone a specific drummer, and ended up marching to the tune of a piccolo player instead. I salute you, sir.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Canon Totally Rules

My S95 came home today. Vik talked about the great service that he'd received from Canon in the past, but they still blew away my expectations. They picked up the tab for the repair, since it was still under warranty (8 months into a 12 month warranty) and 2nd day shipping, to boot. No questions asked. The only thing I had to spring for was shipping to get it there. It arrived at their service center last Tuesday and since I received it today, that means it was sent out Thursday, so a 2-day turnaround. Bitchin.

The timing of its hiccup couldn't have been worse - right before our vacation trip.  But we got by fine with our DSLR and our iPhone cams. Still, I missed it mightily and was super-happy to get it back. I threw a leg over my bike and headed to the bluff to try and catch the awesome red fireball that was our setting sun this evening, due to all wind-whipped dust in the air, but I was too late and whiffed.  So Brandy was once again my subject, second day in a row. She's starting to dig the rock star deal and also feeling better, as you can see.

I was already a Canon guy. I'm now even more of a one.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Dog Tired

While Patty and I were out of town, Brandy was hanging at the "pet resort".  We love the people that run it and the care that she gets while she's there, but there's no real way to ease the trauma of being away from home and surrounded by the inescapable noise and smell and harshness of a kennel pet resort. It was eleven long days and after a run and a bath and a meal, our girl was running on fumes.

Sleep well, best friend.

In other dognews, I was needing a book mid-trip and ran across this one at a cool independent bookstore in Sedona. The wolf story is cool, but what's really gripping is the author, Farley Mowat, who I'd not heard of until just then/now. Holy living hell, the shit this dude has done.  The book was written in the 60's and his style of prose is just irresistible. He's still alive, at 91, which makes the experience of reading the book even more rad.  You probably know all about him already, but if you don't, and if you dig outdoor, man-against-nature stories like I do, this will fuel you.  It's also pretty relevant to our local wolf debate, and what you read might surprise you.

And then of course, there's the t-shirt that Patty bought me.

Lilac City Twilight Crit 2012

Patty and I have been vacationing the past week, but touched back down in Spo this evening with just enough time left to make a mad dash downtown. I was sorry to have missed the Men 4-5 and Master 60+/Women 4 races, but was jacked to be able to take in the Master 40+/50+/Women 1-2-3 and Men 1-2-3 races.

It would have been especially fun to see Hank experience his first crit, racing in the Men 4-5 group, but by the time I got there he was off the bike and busy with his camera.  I, of course, was also interested in capturing some of the action through a lens and he helped me out with some technique and get-to-know-your-camera tips. In fact now that I think about it, he showed up at just about every corner I did.  Stalking is maybe too strong a word, but just barely.  Weird.

Anyway, I shot about 300 pics, of which 20-something were even palatable. And then I pared it down to 13 for this post. Shooting fast-moving things in the dark is way beyond my skill set. But the fact that this event took place is just too rad, and so I gave it my best shot.

Among the "technical" failures, were three that I really liked.

The enormity of this race and what it took to pull it off in terms of organization, manpower, equipment, and cooperation across various community fences is kind of off the charts.  Racing promotion and organization around here (and most places, for that matter) is normally conducted in a manner so as to tread as lightly as possible and ruffle the fewest feathers.

But this was full-on, in-your-grill, we-think-racing-is-good-for-the-city stuff. My hat's all the way off . . . to everyone who had a hand in this, from the organizers, to the sponsors, to the USA Cycling officials, to the government and business groups, to the army of volunteers. You know who you are. Awesome job.