Saturday, November 29, 2008

Turkey Day Family Ride

George got this really fun idea of taking all the kids out on a little bike ride on Thanksgiving and who am I not to show up if can't help it? We invited some extra people, some of whom, Steve, Sumer, Kathleen, my sister Patricia, Yaroslav, Rob, Sara, their friends, and our kids: L, C, P, L, J, T, and 3 (trust me, that's a real person but you have to use the cyrillic alphabet to spell that name).

The course took us from the Ballard Fred Meyer out to the ocean, or that is, Golden Gardens city park through a very quiet Ballard and then the new section of the Burke Gilman Trail.

Here are some photos of the kids: L & C: (and Yaroslav, George Arminda, and Kathleen).

Here we see Steve, George, Kathleen, C, L, and Sumer prepping for the return trip wherein the fine tail wind we enjoyed on the way out will somehow seek to destroy us as we turn about face.

P & L, not sure what their parents have gotten themselves into. Yes, they are twins.

And finally, T & 3 who have just been bought off with some granola snacks. J somehow eluded my camera for this ride.

We rode down to the park, brought some goodies, let sleeping children sleep, and then rode back when critical mass felt upon us. Have I mentioned that the people depicted here are the some of the nicest I know?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

An Inadvertant Tour Of Southeast Bainbridge Island

Add to that 5 miles round trip from my house to the ferry dock, and you have a great way to spend a morning with Kent and Matt.

Photos are found here.

Here's the kicker. If you go out on a foggy day with two cyclers who are crazier than you are, and by the way, you are pretty crazy, and your 18 month old son has just enough toys and the like to make it through a morning, then, oh, did I mention that it's foggy? Then you have the ingredients to a good day.

Claire went to work especially early and Thorvald was up with her so we decided to make the most of it. Kent had set up a ride on Bainbridge Island which is my favorite place to ride because it involves a ferry, is literally inches from Seattle (you get on a boat, and then you get off a boat), and transports you to a rather tranquil version of exurbia where you can cycle to your heart's contentment, enjoy the ups and down of the hills, and are never more than 20 minutes from a coffee shop.

The rub arises however when those two crazy cyclers hold the map and then refuse to look at it, even though it's taped to their handlebars. This sounds much worse than it is, for if we had slavishly adhered to the map, we never would have found out where The Country Club of Seattle is (keep turning left from the ferry and look out for the dogs). We also never would have found the beautiful shangri-La at the end of Toe Jam Hill.

The best moment was finding out that we were going exactly south when it felt like north, realizing that we had a very sketchy downhill replete with wet leaves, and then from the confines of the bike trailer I hear "Daddy?". It was so precious, more so when Kent and Matt realized right there why they were waiting for me on the hills. I'll get Thorvald pedaling soon enough. For now he's just along for the ride and game as long as I stop when he wants. That's a good deal as far as I'm concerned.

Kent's write up on the ride is wonderful and he really does climb like a mountain goat, but when they were tired of waiting, they sent me on Fort Ward Hill and Blakely Hill while they hugged the shore and what I now understand was the shortcut. Hmmmmm...... They really are great friends. Really.

The next time I go over there, I'm leaving time for the visit to the bike shop. Wouldn't you?

Bailing out the Auto Industry

I was just thinking about the hearings today and had a thought. If the domestic automakers were to be allowed to fail and were perhaps bought up by foreign companies, we would see even less political support for cars and car infrastructure than we do today. Perhaps with no major domestically owned auto companies (plenty of foreign owned companies have production here, typically in non-unionized or hard to unionize sections of the country), we might find larger support for mass transit, rail, cycling, walking, and the infrastructure improvements that would improve those options.

That said, I'm for a bailout, if only because it's much cheaper than the costs associated with letting them fail including, depression in the upper midwest, which just voted strongly for Obama (hello lefties!), destruction of the parts industries that feed into the auto makers including mining electrical, and others, and of course, a cleaning out of one of the most unionized sections of the country. The UAW has been a leader in worker rights in this century and though none of us have the benefits of an autoworker, we all benefit from their contracts when it comes to weekends, vacation pay, etc.

It's also telling that the senator working hardest against the bailout is Richard Shelby of Alabama who has factories in his state owned by Toyota, Honda, Mercedes, and Hyundai; none of which are unionized, but must pay at least competitively thanks to union contracts negotiated by the UAW. Take away that support and what will happen? It's not like Senator Shelby is pro union. He is pro Alabama, whatever that means.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fake out ride 2008

It was a super nice day out today and so at around 4:20, I wrote everyone to see if they wanted to go out for an early autumn ride. I got some takers, so we decided to meet at 5 PM at the sculpture park. After I left, Steve wrote to say he would be late, and Ryan wrote to say he would be later. I didn't get the second post. I did catch that George was inviting people over for another girls night out. I wrote to say that I would meet him for the date. You can see where this is going.

Steve came up and being as it was 12 after, we waited for just a minute and took off. Steve was offering hot apple cider if we rode to his house and I was more than happy to take him up on it. We got along on our path and arrived at Steve's (5:50), and I found a message on my phone. We had left Ryan. Ryan I am so sorry about this and you were so nice about us ditching you. Faked out!

Steve welshed on the apple cider and instead served us hot chocolate. Faked out II!
Editor's note: Thorvald enjoyed playing with the Evans kids and the hot chocolate was just great.

George was nowhere to be found when I arrived at his house at 7. He had taken off already and was miles away at some restaurant. Fake out III!

I rode home on 15th, over the bridge, taking the whole lane, Thorvald chirping along, and we were home by 7:30.

Editor's note: George and the girls came over and we played and played.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hey, hey, it's a Saturday night!

It's guy's night out in Seattle as the coolest dads in the world get together for burgers, biking and showing the kids a good time. First up, we have George, Lucy, and Charlotte on bike number one, tearing it up and looking very Dutch. If anyone could take a tobogan, strap it to a bicycle, and create a revolution, it would be somebody from northern Europe. These bikes are fun to ride and seem to ride best with some weight in the front. Thanks to Lucy and Charlotte for providing the much needed ballast and for being very fun and helpful to the smaller boys.

And here are the aforementioned smaller boys. I was missing a trailer for this ride because I was set up for cello hauling instead of baby hauling so I took advantage of the excess capacity found in
Rob's trailer and shoehorned
Thorvald in with Jasper.

And we're off, cruising down Market. Yeah, my posse's on Market.... Baby!(s)

This in no way condones or approves of our failed attempts to get Thorvald to wear a helmet. Jasper has accepted them and Rob and Sarah should be congratulated for their due diligence. Still, it's fun to see the boys playing. They rode most of the ride each with a hand on that little train car. Detente.

And here, George wins the reflective war, sporting lights with reflectors, and reflective tires. I didn't get to mention earlier because of poor picture taking but also pictured are Steve and Asher who showed us their awesome downhill and climbing skills at the locks. Pictured from left to right: Rob, Thorvald, Jasper (both in trailer), Lucy, Charlotte, George, Steve, and Asher.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Today's Route

This route was what got me to the auto shop twice, then to two different schools and back home, all on a bike today. It was a little long for an aluminum fixie, but what the heck, it was fun.

The car got me to and from the auto shop. The bike, everywhere else.


So last week, the van, our only car, lost it's clutch, or more succinctly, the pilot bearing that helps the clutch engage shattered. A local shop fixed it but then the van came back with the inability to shift into 1st gear and a very troubling habit of not turning over immediately when the key is turned to "start".

I had somewhat of a handle on this kind of thing and sent it back, knowing that both problems were related to the mechanic having taken the transmission out and putting it back in. It was expensive but these little trifles were fixed free of charge.

Well, well, well.... Bikes aren't that reliable either. For instance, on the cargo bike ride mentioned below, our tandem pulled a flat tire, and then when we pulled the wheel off, the hub fell apart. It's one of those ingenious Phil Wood style hubs but cheaper, much cheaper, and I'm not impressed.

On our progressive dinner ride, the lights stopped working on my beach cruiser which I had lent to a friend for the ride. There are a million places where the problem could be: light bulb, grounding issue, switch, wiring that was put together by me and run through the gas tank horn, etc. What was it? The magnet in the hub was glued in (Sturmey Archer dynamo hub with a drum brake) and when the brakes were activated, the heat caused the glue to fail, causing the magnet to spin with the coil, thus not creating electricity. How about that? Aaron's bike repair, the only place to go for help with hub generators and internal gears, fixed it with aplomb.

Last night's maintenance festival included the following:
~pull off cruiser tire zip tied to the tandem (snips poked and flatted tandem tire),
~install cruiser wheel on cruiser (fork, suspension brace, and 4 fender struts all fit onto the axle before it can be tightened with a wrench, but not before attaching the brake arm and finally attaching the electrical cord),
~wipe off excess chrome polish on cruiser,
~clean cruiser chain and adjust seat from progressive bike dinner,
~Figure out why front light not working on LHT,
~Determine that it might be a bulb (ockam's razor),
~discover that it's in a failed electrical connector (free wire was the clue),
~fix LHT lighting system just well enough to last until a generator hub wheel can be found and built (2 weeks to 4 months) and Claire's extra B&M light can be installed, in other words, not tremendously well,
~fix tandem tire (mini v-brakes plus shimano brake levers equals cussing),
~clean three more bike chains (tandem, Check, LHT),
~install shim on rear Burley trailer light so that it doesn't flop around (innertube to the rescue),
patch tandem tube,
~make sure that each saddle has a rain proof cover now that fall is here,

I didn't even pump up any tires. Today's ride featured a disarmingly cushy ride on some 25 mm rubber.

But the list goes on: In the past month, I've had 9 flats, a failed tire, a hub fall into pieces, a hub work loose, lights go out on two bikes (the aforementioned magnet, and a connector break apart), 1 lost orange flag, numerous shift adjustments, an inline cyclocross brake interrupter came apart at the hinge, electrical tape holding the bar tape magically moistened and fell off, one broken fender (overuse, two for the year), mudflap came loose, numerous zipties, became brittle and failed, replaced one set of brake pads, one sticky drum brake (tandem), lighting connectors have come loose, reflectors have fallen off, broken brake cable, and now two menacingly squeaky pedals.

Are bikes really more reliable?

Why can't Toyota or Porsche build a bicycle?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Progressive Dinner Ride September 21st

We like to eat. We like to ride our bikes. This is a ride where we get to celebrate both activities. Granted, we spent much more time eating than riding our bikes, but that's not the same as a bad thing.

Here we are at Kerry Park in Seattle. Theoretically, doctor Frasier Krane lives somewhere behind this photo because of his very nice view that gets featured out his window. Just like Austin City Limits, there is no way that you can get the proper parallax to have all of the buildings featured in Frasier. It's a product of photoshop. This one is a product of a very nice girl who we recruited to take the picture of us.

Here we have Claire and I riding along with Thorvald in the trailer. Many people are in tow as we make our clockwise navigation around the top of Queen Anne Hill. Leisurely would be an understatement for the pace of this ride. I would put it as "glacial". We like to stop every few blocks and even then we seem to get separated. It was fun getting all the pictures. Love it.

The next section features very nice members of our group.

Nathaniel getting ready.

Thorvald is trying to get away before the ride begins. We are back behind Kristina's house here and Thorvald is finding the limits of running down a closed alleyway.

Our route started at the top of Queen Anne, which some of us rode to. We then rode out to Wallingford for the main course, finishing with dessert at our house after dark. No injuries were reported and the only mechanical was that my Sturme Archer Hub Generator fell apart when the magnet came off and the lights stopped working. Are bikes really cheaper than cars? Discuss.

Robin and Kristina: Don't call them Domestiques

I had to get out to Bellevue for my weekly teach-in over there and advertised it since some people were talking about doing the farm tour on Saturday. Soon, Robin, the lead instigator of the farm tour, hopped onto my plan and decided to use me as a pacer out to Bellevue, perhaps to points unknown.

Kristina signed on the very minute we were about to leave and held us up for a while. I was very concerned that I wouldn't make it for the class, but what do you know, those gals are super, super fast.

I just got behind and churned away, pulling the cello and teaching get-up and trying desperately to keep up. Across I-90, we passed people, over Mercer, we passed some more. I couldn't really keep up on the hills, but they kept talking whenever I would fall back and pretty soon, or whenever they pulled off, I would catch up.

I got there in record time. I just got paced in, Lance style, with the best team in the Puget. It was awesome! Ladies, you saved my bacon. Thanks so much!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Weights and Measures II

Fascinated by the crazy weight I pull around on a regular basis, I'm going to start weighing all of my bikes.

The last post featured my do it all Surly Cross Check which sports a road front, mountain rear drivetrain, hosed 105 shifters, Brooks Saddle, full fenders with mondo mudflaps, generator hub, 62 CM frame, lights front and rear that plug in to the hub, a Jandd frame mount tool bag that weighs a ton, a Carradice SQR, an Ortlieb handlebar bag mount, 35 mm tires (paselas), and a pump.

I might have missed something but it weighs 32 lbs. 42 with a lock, water, and a Carridice bag filled with shoes, rain slicker, and a camera.

So on the second day, I was riding my light aluminum fixie and stopped by Counterbalance to see how it compares, weightwise.

36 lbs. Loaded the same way.

What? How could it? Let's see, it doesn't have gears, shifters, leather saddle, less chain, mudflaps (has the fenders), lights, and hub generator. And I only save 6 lbs.

It feels so light. How could it be? 36 lbs for a fixie?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Weights and Measures

Here is a nice article in the Oregonian about randonneurring and all of its joys and sorrows.

And here is a write-up from a friend's ride on the Mountain 600 a few weeks ago. I kind of wish I had taken 26 up to Windy Ridge just for the craziness.
Don't be confused, Mark is a monster bike rider and has been president of RUSA for a couple of years. Ouch!

On the bright side, I put my bike on the scale yesterday to see what my commuting/rando/everything ride weighs in at:


It's said that the most expensive question you can ask yourself is "how much does my bike weigh?" but I promise to stop right here and now.

For comparison, take that same bike from the picture at the top, take off the handlebar bag, change the tires from 32's to 35's, add a big Carradice bag filled with shoes and a camera, take off a water bottle, and there you have it. Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Cargo Bike Ride: The People That You Haul

I found out from my good friend George about this cargo bike ride happening on Labor Day and here are some more pictures. Even better cargo than my cello are my family on the tandem with the trailer.

And here we have other people hauling options, just in case you find yourself on a battlefield. Perhaps bicycle EMT's might like this solution.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My day amongst the Carbon Fiber

Trees, trees, and more trees. That was the promise when Steve signed me up to ride with him on the Cascade Bicycle Club High Pass Challenge September 7th. Steve has some pretty natural gifts on the bicycle, not the least of which is that he weighs about 70lbs less than I do so despite his relative newness in the sport, he can pretty much smoke me on the hills. He also enlisted Greg, who is also new to biking but comes from the ultra marathon world so he's no slouch either.

We rented a cabin in Packwood for the weekend with our fantastically beautiful, brilliant, and charming wives and kids (4 kids total, three wives, come on!) and played around Friday night, most of Saturday, which you saw in the post below, and then rode this little ride.

We a got up early, well, I got up at 6 since the ride didn't start until 7 and fumbled around with some Raisin Bran and other sundries. Steve and Greg were already primed and pumped as witnessed here. I didn't know we were supposed to match. That's Greg left, Steve right.

Soon, we were on our way and within half a mile we had arrived at the start. There was a lot of commotion and it feels very different from a Randonneur ride, but it was really fun and I think designed to get you pumped up for the "huge" trek. The music was blasting and they had a P.A. warning people about various aspects of the ride, like some kind of war briefing. Still the nervous commotion was palpable and it was really cool. Erin showed up unexpectedly and took our picture, which I'm sure is forthcoming.

Everyone was in assorted performance gear and seemed to have the latest and greatest bicycles and gadgets. Notice the sweet not-hydration pack that Steve is sporting. I was wearing wool for the day and so the dudes thought they might bring some extra clothing for the day too. As it turned out, this pack had a streamlining effect on ole Steve and, well, we'll find out later how that turned up. Steve in foreground.

Here we have my ride for the day. It's an '85 Trek 460 64 or 65 cm frame. Yes, those are 700c/28 tires so you have the scale to work with. I was looking for a bike that would look like the racers from the 50's with friction downtubes and barely enough seatpost for comfort. I found it on Craigslist for $50 and have only lubed the chain, put on new tires, seat, and pedals. It runs great. The gearing is 52/42 with a 13/24 in the back so I was a little worried about tackling the hills, but after the ride the day before, I figured "why not?" And don't worry, this is a totally supported ride. I never needed more than one water bottle.

This is the opening pace line where I got to ride amongst the carbon fiber. Sure the bikes are nice, but look at all the carbon fiber around and along the side of the road. That carbon fiber is green and lush and makes the air smell so very nice. The dudes with me were cool too. At one point, I was leading the group and a short rider passed and took the lead. Perhaps he wasn't happy with my pace, but after a while, I notice that I still wasn't getting any wind blockage. I remarked "hey, I need somebody taller to coast behind" , to which the rider behind me yelled "That would be you!"

This is Greg racing down the hill. I made it to within 4 miles of the turn around point, had lunch, and then took off on my way, only to find about 2 miles from the end, Greg tearing it up down this hill. I had my camera ready so that I could get pictures of my buddies and I'm glad this worked. Although holding a peach in one hand and a camera in the other had it's difficulties, I'm glad I got the snap. The strange part is that Steve was nowhere to be seen. I asked Greg why I hadn't seen Steve yet and He yelled out with glee that Steve was back behind a little way. I think this was with glee because Steve set himself up as the uber rider before the ride and was constantly casting disparaging remarks on Greg's bike, which except for a garden variety front derailer issue, performed flawlessly. It goes without saying that Greg was riding flawlessly too.

Just before the last hill to the turnaround, I came upon Steve. He was in good form too and I was glad to get a photo. He's riding second from the left. Windy ridge is a bicycling paradise ever since the road was closed to auto traffic. It feels a little like the planet of the apes as you ride by amenities that were designed for modern convenience such as interpretive centers and parking lots. Buildings appear here and there that are no longer in use but the greenery is building back after the Mt St. Helens explosion. I was last up here in 2000, come to think of it and so much more is growing now than before that I almost didn't recognize it. I wonder if it will go to gravel in the future or if some, newer government might decide to allow access again and fix the place up.

At the end of the road, you reach a large parking lot and there is a gravel road leading to a better view of the mountain. None of us went that direction because it might rough up our tires but I did get this nice picture of Spirit Lake and got to show off my completely dependable and charmingly retro bike. I spent a fair amount of time in the my lowest, 42/24 gear ratio (46 gear inches if any of you are wondering) and was happy to get to the turn around point at 10:30 or about 3.5 hours after starting. Without getting all Rivendell for a second, I have to say that I really dig this frame and I think the stem is way cool.

Here's another shot of this fun little bike with Mt. St. Helens in the background behind a closer mountain. I've never been to the Johnson Observatory so I don't know how things look from the NW, but if you go around this hill, it's pretty nice. I on the other hand, was feeling like I would like to catch my compadres.

I took off back up and then down the hill, through Windy Ridge and was whooping and hollering when presently, I was beset by a tire blowout. No problem says I, just whip everything out and go to work. Once I got the new tube pumped up, the bead separated out and the blew my second tube out. This was the tube Greg had agreed to let me take as a donor tube in case I found somebody stranded. Greg, I owe you one, extra light weight tube. I'll get it to you when you hand over my trailer flags! Hostage transactions are what they are. I had now a third tube and put this one on, but first booted the tire with two dollar bills protecting the tube and also the rim from this Schwablean mess. The dollars stuck out so I only pumped the tire up to about 40 lbs and let the dollars rub against my brakes. This would be a slow, slow ride back.

I limped up to the Bear something parking lot and much to my surprise, my favorite pit crew, and arguably three of the most beautiful women in the world were waiting for me there. Claire, Sumer, and Erin came up to cheer us all on, and looked a little worried when I finally came in as heretofore, I was just a few, perhaps 10 minutes behind the others. Now I was more like an hour. Thorvald quickly set to work fixing my flat and working on my wheel. I swapped out a tire from my Cross Check (I'm very glad that I decided to go with narrower tires for this weekend on this bike as I would otherwise have been stuck), threw it on the blue bike, Thor helping all the way. This made for 5 tire/tube changes.

Here we see the extent of my pit crew: three lovely ladies and four brilliant children. Some other biker took this shot, no doubt because he was jealous. Just try to tell me that you aren't too. Pictured are from left to right, Linnea, Sumer, Pierson, Erin, Leo, Claire, Thorvald, and Brad.

Before too long, I was off and running down the road, past a motorcycle accident (they were like locusts this weekend), down the hill, passed some cars, passed many cyclists, passed a few of the food stations (I only availed myself of two the whole trip), and rode onto the finish. After a confusion about the route, wherein I stupidly tried to get riders to go the wrong way, I sort of bonked out and had to ride my own pace for a while. It wasn't all bad though because the river road from Randle to Packwood is just delightful. Just enough chip seal to appreciate my steel frame and fat tires, just enough rollers to make you push without always gearing down, just enough turns to keep you from thinking it too long, and just flat enough to recover your legs. It was sometimes a single lane and always provided nice views of plenty of carbon fiber, water, rocks, and sky.

Once I made it in to the finish, and healthily silver at that, Steve came up and bid me good arrival. I regaled the masses with tales of ruined tires, punctured tubes that were strapped to the body as insurance, beautiful angels who came to my rescue and gave me a new, if mismatching tire, and saluted my trusty steed which saw me through good times and better times.

Here is the happy family at the finish. I got my silver medal for finishing between 7 and 9 hours, and Claire was very happy to see me. Thorvald chided me for being so slapdash with my tires and tubes, and after a short rest, we were off in our cars. The tire fiasco cost me the time between gold and where I finished, but I wasn't expecting to finish gold until midway through the ride. In fact, I finished sooner than I thought I would even with hour spent with the tires so on the whole, it was a very successful day.

I have a few comments about this ride that I would like to share. First of all, driving 240 miles so you can ride 114, or in my case 185 considering the two days, feels like a bit of a waste. It was super pretty, but the nature of the ride was predicated on dependence. Dependence on the automobile, dependence on food stations every 10-20 miles so that we might complete the ride, and dependence on weather so that we can ride bikes and wear clothing that don't handle adverse weather at all. I've been up a few passes in my day and this was definitely the most posh. It was a perfect day weatherwise, ridden with perfect friends, and we stayed in a perfect cabin with a hot tub that I should say, we made excellent use of. It was super fun to ride fast and light in contrast to my usual practice, as I'm used to carrying my own gear, sometimes even watermelons, but at least enough to get me through most anything, and it was fun to ride with so many people, and see so much carbon fiber. Despite the aforementioned concerns, I had a fantastic ride and a wonderful, wonderful weekend. How about that?

Thorvald in the end was assuaged that he was able to have the medal. I'll have to bring him along next time. I got the trucker hat as a memento, and we got home somewhere around 7 after nice burgers with Erin, Greg, and Leo.

Monday, September 8, 2008

A bike to a hike to a bike

From left to Right: Claire, Thorvald, Brad, Leo, Erin, and Greg all hiking in the Grove of the Patriarchs. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

We were up in Packwood this weekend from Friday until late Sunday because Steve had signed me up to do the Cascade Bicycle Club High Pass Challenge. I was pretty into it and had never biked in that neighborhood before so it sounded like a deal. The ride was on Sunday but we had all kinds of spare time and spare bike capacity on Saturday so once it was decided that we would hike up at the Grove of the Patriarchs, I hooked up the trailer, threw Thorvald in, and set off up from Packwood. It was 7 miles on Hwy 12 and the morning chill was around so I closed him up and pretty soon he was asleep.

You turn onto Hwy 123 north and it's just beautiful. After 3 miles, you reach the gate of impending doom. Welcome to Rainier National park. Abandon all hope, Ye cyclists who venture here. At mile 6 on 123, or just about 13 miles, I stopped at the entrance gate to the park and admired the hand hewn elements, the mission statement of the gate either holding in or holding back. I loved it.

I love my son. Perhaps someday, he will appreciate this as much as I do right now. The tree was merely named "big spruce" or something like that.

Walking back across the the suspension bridge. I think that this is Dino Rossi's plan for rebuilding 520 on such a small budget.

After a nice lunch with friends and some time wearing out boopschon, I headed out on my way, wanting to make the most of the $5 I spent to get into the park on my bike and thinking that I could get back across Paradise and back to Packwood in about 3 hours. This was the first stop of Box Canyon. I've driven by it a number of times and couldn't really figure out what the commotion was all about. Its really nice. It a river cut out of stone, seemingly precise, very loud, and just plain cool. I also like this photo because I go on these rides all over and people think that they could never do something like this. I say, even the dude with the belly can do it. You can too.
I'm not sure how this photo..... no, wait, a group of very nice Korean students took this photo of me. It's the downward side to the west of Paradise just south of the Nisqually River. This valley is remarkable and you could see for miles. Behind the camera however, Rainier was creating its own weather with a touch of snow.

At Longmire, you take a back road south of town and haul over this bridge to take the non motorized shortcut to Skate Creek Road. This looks really new and I had heard that the washouts were severe two Novembers ago. It's nice to see some rebuilding in the style of the previous gate. Skate Creek Road is a lovely downhill into Packwood that just made my giggle. It seems to be the perfect bicycle road. I recommend it to anyone looking for a nice, but challenging bike ride up over a pass.
On another note, I can't officially condone this but since bicycles are so easily lifted over a gate, it stands to reason that one COULD go into Mt. Rainier National Park as easily as I left it. You would have to contact me to find out how this is done, but seeing as bicycles pay the same rate as those infernal motorcycles, it could be supported that those arriving under their own power could arguably be absolved from paying the entrance fee.

Riding through the tunnel at the top of a mountain

This is the Cyclops. The Cyclops can see everything in the dark. Randonneurs of the world can rest eas, knowing that they too can have the best, most brilliant lighting system in the known world. This light was strapped on with bungee cords and zip ties to the to of the owner's handlebars. All I can say is that I am suffering from some serious "lighting envy".

Here is the entrance and wait, I should back up a little and help with some background. I went up with Thorvald on 30 August to help with the LDS singles campout bike ride through the tunnel at Hayak on the Iron Horse Trail State Park. We had about 30 adherents and the ride went off without a hitch. Here is some of the group coming out of the tunnel on the second time through. Why a tunnel, you ask? Because it's almost 3 miles long and this may be the only time some of these wonderful people ride their bikes during the year, so I'm here to help.

After the tunnel part of the ride, some of the more hearty members of the group decided to ride the 25 miles back to Ensign Ranch, where the campout was taking place. Two middle aged guys on mountain bikes, Kristina (pictured soon), Thorvald in the trailer, and I decided to take off. No, Thorvald has not suddenly grown 2 feet in height, this is Glenda, who decided to take advantage of my having brought the tandem to climb on and have spin. She totally rocked the house and provided great conversation as well as being a great engine.

Paselas and Iron Horse do NOT mix. The last time I rode with Panaracer Paselas (Tour Guard models) on this trail on my single, I got three flats. This time it was two but we somehow made it in. Thorvald is pictured here helping out and making sure that my tools don't get lost. A few posts down on a ride with Kent, I rode on Maraton XR's and had nary a problem. However in a few posts from now, you will see that Schwalbe tires have their own problems as well. Thorvald is such a good helper!

Kristina exhibits what I consider perfect form on a bicycle. She rides, is completely comfortable on a bike, and knows her limits. Dang, that girl is cool. She bailed me out on the third tire pump up and got the pump really hot from the friction. Dang, that girl is cool! With riding partners such as these, I have no problems with life.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Critical Massin', Police Corkin'

Critical Mass took place without incident today. In other news, crime was up in all other parts of the city.

The nicest part of this ride and the parts that my wife has edited from her blog, or perhaps I never too those pictures after all, was that the police actually corked some of the intersections for us. That might be the best way to make CM go away, making it legitimate, but it was kind of nice getting a police escort, even if it meant motorcycle cops racing up the sidewalks, honking at pedestrians. We just apologized to the pedestrians and told them "hey, we asked them (the police) to be on the road too but they won't come out and play with us".

Yes, that is Mark Canizaro in the foreground.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Biking with Robin

Each Wednesday, I go riding early in the morning. Most of the time, my trusty sidekick is Robin who just got a new Surly Cross Check in exactly the same color as you find on the Surly website.

Our route is as follows: we met at Gasworks, rode up to Golden Gardens to our usual cut through the road closure, which is now actually impassable. We walked up to the slide which is now cut back to the hill and then walked back to the stairs leading up to 85th NW. It's steep and we were in bike shoes, carrying our bikes, but we made it up. I should bring a camera.

We then rode through Blue Ridge down, then up, and then back to Ballard where Robin showed me a new mural at the corner of 45th and Leary NW. Once again, a camera would come in handy. Aw heck, just get out there, you crazies!

I got back at 7:20 AM and Thorvald was very happy to see me.

One last thing, now that Fall has come and the rain is here, I'm back in my element riding wise. My favorite riding weather is 50F and socked in, either just overcast or lightly raining. Kent had a great ride over the weekend with Matt and Jon. You should read it here. It rained even harder when they went. Mmmmm....... Rain and chill are so nice this time of year, which in Seattle is 9 months per year. The wool sweater is out and I'm ready.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Epic Poem for Epic Riding: The Ride

A brevet in 19 stanzas: SIR 200k 10th Anniversary 2008

Peering up into the west is the moon, golden orange as a harvest consort
Digging into the earth as the sun chases it into bright daylight.
Thick is air that pierces my lungs, heavy with dew
The Dew striking thick into my cavities, the smell of the city.

Streets barren and still in the morning thickness
I see quiet street lights shining for travelers who will never enjoy
The methodical changing of their color,
Together in this thick dew, I ride onto my watery passage.

Arrival, conjoining, reunion, waiting together for safe passage,
For passage to that beginning to our real voyage
The voyage of wheels, and chain, and steel.
Asphalt, swift carrier of our hopes and dreams.

Energy, the crown stresses and strains waiting for the
Appointed minute that will break forth the dam,
Gushing waters of adrenaline, testosterone, caffeine,
Checking gear, maps, rubber, friends, competitors.

Slowly, we edge out of town, chomping to go faster,
Diligent to adhere to traffic laws known
And imagined,
Nervous energy of another sleeping town; We are interlopers.

Leaving as the sun chases, as light casts brighter
In sparkling leaves, ripping away the dew as
A breath sucked back in.
Daytime becomes our ride.

Faster, the group rides on, slashing, testing, fresh,
Charging up hills that later will find falter,
With a group, there is challenge,
With a group, there is safety from a nose glued to the route sheet.

A tandem in our group; battle cruiser, leader,
Breaker of wind and library of collective consciousness,
These ride on with us, setting our pace as we hang on,
Waiting on the hills for the sweet wake of descent.

Controlled, oases, islands of commotion,
I try to resist the Siren song of warm cookies,
V-8, beer, Coca Cola, chips,
Those mainlined additives to our desire to capture.


Dominating our objective for personal best,
A sense of adventure, collective experience, recognition,
Recapturing something thought lost,
Most are more fit now than in days greener, clouded in memory.

The day grows warm, and I spin, slog, push, cajole,
Fighting for rhythm, fighting for speed,
Drugging myself on every downhill,
Endorphins rushing to serve on the up.

I wonder, as I arrive at each marker,
Checking my clock, gauging my strength,
Computing need resources, nature still lures,
Me to these far away places, sparking the new.

Back roads, loops of ever greater scope,
Building on those times past, maintaining health,
Fighting death's cold, draining grasp,
For today, I am strong, powerful, fecund.

Inner will dampens the pain that surfaces as the sun,
Crosses over past the middle, of time counted in,
Kilometers, miles, rods, chains, suddenly useless tires,
Maimed, we sprawl in the ditch, resting, repairing, cursing our fate.

Falling behind, tired, expectations forfeited,
Ferries missed, calculations revamped, cautious laughing,
More hills greet these weary legs.
The longest miles are left for the end; coming, waiting, holding out.

And back into the oasis of controlled life,
We coast in to adulation, knowing that we too will support,
Those who support us, those who cheer and love,
Will also feel our love as we pitch in, next time, Riding.

Our watery passage back home is regaled,
With laughing, high as the tree tops, as the eagles we
Spied drifting thoughtlessly, taken in on the voyage,
Also hunting, also discovering, we the flocks of the country road.

Arrival. Rest. Peace. Hope. Pain.
All of these things we feel, we hope, we imagine,
Ourselves to have completed a great task, not alone,
Randonneur, Rambler, Reporter, Rescuer, from mendacity,
We soar, We float, We chase, We love.

Setting sun, our job, our goal,
Accomplished, we seek comfort in home,
Having done much with little, luck this time on our shoulders,
Made ready for the new, fighting our mortality.

Seattle Rando Anniversary 200k

The Mosquito's Eye View is shown here. Every cyclist knows this shot. You're riding along at a good clip, you want to find out who is about to pass you on this hill, so you spend extra energy pulling out your camera, turning it on, focusing back, making sure that you still get into the photo (for perspective, of course), center your friends, etc. After a while it gets easy.

Caitlin here seemed very familiar. I thought it was because she played a musical instrument. No. Perhaps we had seen each other riding. No. Oh yes, Claire and I went to the hospital last year and Caitlin was one of our nurses. Now that is a very small world.

Ward and I at the finish. Here's where the ride gets into particulars. I had a great, great time. The day was sunny, I had my new, well, used huge @$$ trek under foot. I was able to ride to and from the ride, it included a ferry, and I rode very well. In fact it was one of my most memorable days on the bike. I just sort of glided along, only cursed my super high low gear (42/24) a few times, and covered the 125 mile 200k ride in 8:21. I'm only remarking on this because I really thought I would be much slower. As it turned out, I never really needed to stop at the controls for much more than to get the card signed and fill the bottles, I had great people riding with me (Ward, Allen, the big group at the beginning, etc.), and the route was just plain magical. It was perhaps one of my best days on the bike.

Here's me saying "I just rode 125 miles and I feel great!"