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!"

Friday, August 15, 2008

Olympic Cycling NBC Coverage and the Mirage of Providence

NBC has all of the broadcast rights for the Olympics in the U.S. If you want to see cycling in Beijing, you cannot go to a foreign website because NBC has learned from the Chinese and effectively blocked it.

Then, they don't show any cycling. I saw a little bit online but where is the track cycling? Track cycling is the most spectator friendly form of cycling. Most races last less than 5 minutes and the audience can watch. You would think this would be a shoe in.

So as of last night at 11pm Pacific Time on NBC's website, track cycling was to be shown on USA along with tennis, then, as of 6:30am, only the finals were to be shown after the tennis match because of overtime in women's soccer. Then, at 8am, cycling went back to the original schedule from the night before on the website, but the careful watcher was greeted with women's basketball. Basketball ended with 12 minutes in the half hour so what did they show? Wrap-up from other sports.

It will be a long time before I watch anything on NBC again, let alone Olympic coverage. Don't hold your breath for Saturday either.

I just wish we could watch sports that Americans are not crushingly favored. I also wish that those other sports could somehow be broadcast in the U.S. Information blackouts just feel unamerican.

Oh yeah, the British won today.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Wednesday morning ride 8-13

Russia invaded Georgia. Drag.

Let's get out and ride this Wednesday. Starts at the same spot as usual (Gasworks) and this time Robin (pictured far left; photo courtesy Kevin) is picking the route.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Bike rage and second class citizenry

I have a colleague who is Georgian, the Tiblisi style of Georgian. Russia is currently invading Georgia stating that ethnic Russians need to be protected. The problem is that today, those same Russians have gone beyond the ethnically Russian areas and are now bombing Georgian industrial areas. Putin, smart guy that he is, knows that Bush is a lame duck and can't do anything, and China isn't going to do anything during the olympics. Pardon the word, but this self defense line by the Russians is tantamount to a "ruse".

What does this have to do with biking? I'm glad you asked. You see, politically, Georgia doesn't matter. They aren't a world power, they used to be under domination of Russia, heck, even Stalin was from there. Georgia is small, and if you want to overrun it, it might just be a question of timing.

Most people in the U.S. drive. Most people identify with whomever they aspire to be, not those from whom they came. Cycling is cheap, and outside of expensive materials, competition and clothing, not very well respected. For this same reason, most people are against an inheritance tax because they imagine that they too will someday "have to" pay this tax, which very few pay. People want to feel powerful on the road. They want to be the person who enforces the law. They will always go for the larger car, the truck, the bling, any way to assert their power. Bikers do this with bling. This shows that they are serious users of the road and can be respected. Critical Mass riders try to take back the roads; they are Georgia. The world doesn't care about CM or Georgia because the casual news observers says "hey, it's internal, they were Russians before 91, and they didn't used to be on the road either".


On page three of the NYT article, you find a statistic wherein 2/3rds of bicycle plaintiffs lose. Let me tell you, cyclists don't go to court unless they are maimed. Dead ones only have the legal recourse of their families, and non dead, non maimed ones are told by police, as I once was after I was assaulted by some teenage boys in Fremont, "should I really make a report? It will be a lot of work to get the plate number from the 911 call you left. I'm surprised you can't remember it two days later" when the police finally showed up.

Yes, I'm mad that the U.S. invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and the whole world shrugged. I'm mad that Russia invades Georgia and people just want more Olympics. I'm mad that a driver ran over a couple of bikers, and they are the ones arrested. I'm mad that I can be assaulted on the road by a driver, get the plate number, I.D. the driver, name the car and distinguish where the dents are, relay that information to 911, and he doesn't even check the 911 call.

Drivers identify with drivers. Cylists are different and don't have recognizably powerful avatars like drivers do. Juries filled with drivers aquit drivers who kill or maim cyclists because they are biased. Drivers protect themselves. I'm glad that the Wobblies came out against the private automobile. I'm glad they saw it as a false sense of upward mobility. The Wobblies lost that fight, but they were right in the end. Ask yourself if you identify with Russia or Georgia, cyclists or drivers, the U.S. or Iraq. Ask yourself which side you are on.

And when the undercover cops infiltrate CM in Seattle this month on August 29th and either escalate a disturbance or create one so that they can try to shut CM down and discredit it in the eyes of the "bike shouldn't be on the road" public, I will remember the invasions of Georgia, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and I hope that I fight as valiantly as people in those countries have fought.

Roads are public rights of way. You as a citizen have access to them. Bicycles are recognized as vehicles by international treaty. Stand up for those rights. Use the roads, all of them.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Making a habit of a hobby

So I like to bike. That much is probably pretty obvious by now. These 6 AM bike rides through the summer have been divine. I'm actually using a bike without fenders. I feel so sporty, so Italian, so racy. I know all you cats out there already know about the light, airy feeling of riding without fenders, but this is new to me. Of my 6 bicycles, 5 have full fenders. 4 have generator lights. One has battery lights and one, the bike without fenders, has no lights at all. I don't feel real great about riding in the early morning without lights so I'll take care of that today, but dang, I understand why you all go out there with the lightest, least complicated (except for frame materials and gears) bikes you can find.

I'm learning.

Oh incidentally, I'm going to expand the morning rides through August. Meet me Thursday, August 7th at the I-90 bridge overlook at 6 AM for some fun times over Mercer Island. Then see me again on Friday, Saturday, heck, let's do this every day. I need to get trained up for this ride coming up soon.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

WWWW: August 6th 6 AM

Wednesday at 6 AM. Gasworks Park Parking Lot. We'll go to Blueridge and some other fun stuff.

Monday, August 4, 2008

More Photos from the Issaquah Easton Blitz

This is Kent. This is Kent with pants unzipped and rolled into his rear pocket.Here we are on the first part of Iron Horse Trail where a new sewer (purpose? new development?) is being put in.

On the way out of Easton, not wanting to backtrack, we crossed over a slough,
Hiked up the hill past the bridgeAnd then toddled down a hill with our bikes as hiking poles to steady us.
A fantastic paint job on the outhouses along the way. I love the orange, not sure about the white accents.
Action shot through the forest: Tokul Tunnel
Back at Kent's place.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Issaquah to Ensign Ranch and back with Kent Peterson in 24 hours, 47 minutes, and a good night's sleep to boot

Issaquah to Easton in three easy steps:

First step: Get to Issaquah when the Blue Angels have cut off the freeway so they can act like a bunch of critical mass cyclists. Half hour becomes two hours.

Second step: Grab Kent Peterson (the only man hearty enough, in this case, something of an internet cycling legend) and ride up through to High Point Road, down the freeway to Snoqualmie, onto Fall City Road, up the Cedar River Trail, over some large pipes and onto the Iron Horse Trail, up over Snoqualmie Pass (through the tunnel), down past Lake Easton and into Easton, past Easton to Golf Course Road (still on the gravel), let it get dark, backtrack onto Hundley Road and into Ensign Ranch.

Third Step: Kiss lovely wife who happens to be waiting for you and has saved two plates of food from the rest of the church campout people.

For Easton to Issaquah, reverse order, just like a Chilton car repair manual except: stop in Easton to get Kent some coffee, determine the best cyclocross "rundown" you can find after crossing the slough, stop at the pass to help a rider with a tire blowout (not the tube, the tire)

Best of all, take some extraneous hills at the end just make the route complete. How do you screen shot a gmap route and turn it into a picture to put on your blog anyway?

Photos, courtesy of Kent Peterson. Mine are coming in a while.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Another Wacky Editorialist And My Compulsory Upbraiding

Craig Groshart means well. I hope. No, I'm not sure that he does. You would have to read this to find out.

I'm not one to fly off the handle when people present these sorts of unresearched, bigoted editorials, but I do like to write rebuttals. Here is mine:

Mr. Groshart,

Thanks for your article in the in the Bellevue Reporter the other day. It's true that cooler tempers should prevail. I would like to point you to Washington State Law as it pertains to cyclists. Therein, you will find that if a lane isn't wide enough for a car to pass a cyclist in the same lane, the cyclist has every right to take the entire lane for safety sake.

To wit:

Question: What position in the lane should a bicyclist use?


1) Bicyclists traveling at the speed of traffic may use the middle of the lane.

2) A bicyclist traveling at a speed less than the normal flow of traffic should ride as near to the right side of the right through lane as is safe except when a) preparing to turn b) when passing another bicycle or vehicle or c) on a one-way street, where it is legal to ride on the left (RCW 46.61.770).

3) Bicyclists should ride in the middle of the right through lane when that lane is too narrow to permit side-by-side sharing with motor vehicles, and when hazards (such as drain grates or a rough edge) prevent riding on the shoulder or along the edge of the lane.

4) Bicyclists may ride on the road shoulder, but this is required only on limited-access highways, such as freeways.

Question: May bicyclists ride side-by-side?

Answer: Yes. State law allows bicyclists to ride two abreast (RCW 46.61.770).

I fear that what you are advocating will only serve to embolden drivers to verbally scold or even physically pressure cyclists to do something not in their best interests or even more dangerous. Drivers already have the added bully club of 3-7000lbs of car to use as a coercive tool and your misreading of state traffic law does a great disservice to all vehicles and all road users.

As for the recent critical mass incident, the driver ran over numerous cyclists before anyone touched the assailant's vehicle. The fact that the driver is not facing charges for vehicular assault is a byproduct of published pieces such as yours disseminated widely that make cyclists secondary road users and subject to prejudicial actions.


Brad Hawkins

Keep it polite, keep it direct, don't refer to Nazis, KKK, or George W Bush, and you'll do just fine in your own letters to the editor. Peace