Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Annual Mileage Update

Today was all about building miles if I want to meet the goals of 5,000 and 30,000 miles.  The weather forced me indoors, not because I could not ride in the snow, but doing so would have required about 2 hours that I did not have to spare today.  Had I known I was going be so close to 5,000 annual miles earlier in the season it would have been far easier to build miles on the road bike than trying to make them up on the Superfly with studded tires.

There are only 4 riding days left in 2011 and I can't miss any if I am going to achieve the goals.  Stay tuned.

Monday, December 26, 2011

People from Texas are Tough!

Sometimes you have to be tough and creative to get your new Madone from Two Wheel Transit in Spokane, WA home to Huston, TX!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It is About the Ride

It was the Mileage Goal that got me out the door this morning for a ride.  It quickly became about being on the bike as the day broke clear and crisp with long shadows and sparkling snow.  I am reminded of the saying "As soon as you roll-out on the bike, you are doing what you came for."  It's about the ride.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

When 5 becomes 30

Earlier in the year I described how I rode the circumference of the earth without intending to do so.  I do not know what is magic about the number 5,000 but that has been my annual mileage goal since I began riding again in 2006.  Maybe it just sounds so much bigger than 4,000.  2008 was my best year with over 5,600 miles where 2010 was my lowest at under 4,300 miles.  My annual average is still around 5,000.

Regardless, once again this probably falls into the category of who cares, but it is a goal nonetheless.  Somewhere around September or October, I looked at my year-to-date mileage and resigned myself that there would be no way I was going to hit the goal with winter approaching and just thought I would ride as long as possible.  Through the magic of studded tires and no real winter to speak of so far I have continued riding outdoors on a daily basis.

I was putting in my mileage the other day and realized that I am not only a couple hundred miles from 5,000 for the year, but may also hit the milestone of 30,000 miles since 2006.  Over half of the 30,000 miles  have been on my 2005 Klein Reve which still has the same cassette and chain rings that came with the bike.  The remainder of the miles have been spread between two Trek Madones, the Gary Fisher Superfly and a Klein Aura that I had for a couple of years.

There are 12 days left in the year and if I do not get sick, hurt, snowed-in, run over, or too busy I might make either the 5,000 or 30,000 mile mark.  I will post an update on the 31st on how I did.  Until then,  Merry Christmas and safe riding.

Friday, December 2, 2011

P2P Grand Opening Tomorrow

For those who have not heard yet, Pedals 2 People has moved and is having a Grand Opening Tomorrow from 2-6 at 1527 E. 16th Ave. just east of Perry St.  It is a cool new location that gives them more room and flexibility than the Sprague location.   Head down and say hello and check-out the new digs.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Looking Back on this Seems Appropriate Today

It is the end of November and our hours of daylight are rapidly dwindling.  I feel my energy following the same trajectory and remembered this seemingly prescient posting from just a few months back.  I knew what was coming from experience.  Hopefully, reading it will take you back to that glorious day if only for a brief time.   Enjoy.

Some Like It Hot

Friday, November 25, 2011

A new experience - Black Friday Ride

I had the good fortune of being able to make the 2nd Annual Black Friday ride this morning.  Last year there was some new snow on the ground which combined with the colder temperatures caused me to stay in bed and miss the inaugural ride organized by John Speare.  I can't say for certain, but I think the ride was designed as a subtle protest against standing in line for hours and fighting the crowds at the after Thanksgiving Day sales events at national retail stores and malls.

About 11 people showed-up riding mountain bikes, cyclocross bikes and even a couple of 29" single-speed bikes. The single speed guys were very tough riding the variety of terrain with only one gear to work with.

The route is known by locals as the Northwest Passage and meanders from White Road on S 195 all the way to the trails along the Spokane River past Doomsday Hill. There is no way I would have ever been able to negotiate the ride even with a detailed map nor am I certain I could repeat the ride solo again since I was looking down trying not to die most of the time.

It all started with a ride from Hangman Golf Course up to the meeting place on 43rd Ave.  The cyclocross tire outfitted Superfly was the steed of choice for this adventure.  There was some ice on the road, but the bike handled it without incident.  I knew I was in trouble when I saw the serious looking crew assembled at the Rocket Market.

After introductions, we ambled down to the south where the fun began with climbing the grade to the top of White Road.  After that it was some technical single track along a cliff, fast descents and a death-defying leap across train tracks in front of an oncoming train blowing its horn for all it was worth.

More trails, fast descents and a spin through High Bridge Park and Peoples' Park put us down by the Spokane River.  More trails,  a flat tire and some regrouping brought us to the foot of Doomsday Hill.  Most went up the hill while those from the south took the highway back to Hatch Road.

It was a great ride with a great group all out for the same reason - the love of riding bikes.  It all added-up to about 40 miles for me and a really big grin for most of the morning.

Thanks guys!  See you next time.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Day Ride

One of the weird goals I have each year is to ride outside at least one day each month.  The other meaningless objective is to ride on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day (a Trifecta as Bill Bender calls it).  After last week's winter blast, I thought my outdoor days were done for the year but you always hope for a break with clear roads.  Today cooperated nicely and I sneaked in a 21 miler on the Superfly.

The road was even dry in a lot of places.

Apparently a lot of other folks had the same idea as I saw runners and cyclists as far out as Baltimore Road.  It really felt good to be out after a week on the trainer.  I am hoping to do the same tomorrow morning.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Time for the studded tires.

Pair of carbide-studded tires $130 to $180, good for year after year

Not falling on ice and breaking your elbow $15,000?

Out-accelerating the motorists from every stoplight Priceless!

You know you want 'em. :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

New Women's Group Forms in Spokane

Gals Get Going has recently formed to bring Inland Northwest women together for a multitude of activities and coaching opportunities.  More than just a triathlon or cycling team - there will season specific opportunities for workouts which will include cross-country skiing.

There is even talk of cycling tours and numerous rides during the season.  We know some of the coaches that have been identified so far and know them as accomplished athletes that balance work, family and outdoor lives.

We are still working-out the details of our affiliation, and very excited about the possibilities of working together in the coming year.

Check them out at: http://www.galsgetgoing.com

Sunday, November 6, 2011

CX0 Tubless Update - Riverside State Park

Yesterday I had the good fortune of riding with about 15 riders through Riverside State Park trails between 9 Mile Dam and 7 Mile Bridge.  This was THE off-road test of which I was dreaming when I installed the Bontrager CX0 Cyclocross Tires on the Gary Fisher Superfly back in October.  The setup for the day was tubeless with about 40 psi front and rear on in the 700x38 tires.

This ride was a good test for several reasons:

  1. The course included a lot of climbing and descents with some varied trail surfaces and technical challenges.
  2. There were 14 other fat-tire mountain bikes available for comparative purposes
  3. It was a blast!

I WAS able to climb anything the fat-tire bikes could climb though technique became more important.  The narrower tires meant that I had to keep my fanny planted in the saddle to maintain traction on the steeper sections.  I missed being able to maintain traction while standing to generate more power to get to the top of a climb as I can with full-on 29" fat tires.  This also meant that I had to be more deliberate in line and gear selection well prior to the base of the climb.

I WAS able to descend with reasonable control on the steep loose stuff dropping in to the Deep Creek area.  Again, this involved being a bit more cerebral at the top of descent and maintaining control since I could not depend on a big footprint rolling beneath me to save my bacon if I had to come to a complete stop quickly.

No surprises with either of these scenarios based on my test runs across the HD Bluff Trails the last few weeks.  

The tires absolutely rocked on the hard pack sections and paved road compared to the fat tires.  I observed that I was rolling faster at a lower energy expenditure than my cohorts.   One place I found myself wanting for big-volume fatties was anytime we encountered exposed baby head rocks.  The low-volume tires did not yield and wrap themselves over the rocks like I took for granted with a 29x2.2 at 30 psi.  This meant again that I was forced into picking better lines, and using more body English any time I encountered these smooth beasts.  I also felt more of the bumps through the hard tail with this setup.

Where they did not rock is when we hit some very deep and loose sand at the end of the ride.  I became the only casualty of the day in the battle to remain vertical when I sunk in the deep sand and fell over with an unceremonious thud.  The following riders showed incredible compassion riding around me while hurling various insults.

In addition to sand, I expect the tires would be miserable and ineffective in deep, slick mud as you often get down in the sections close to the river.  

Bottom Line:  

The set-up performed well for 99% of the conditions encountered and are a great set-up if you like commuting or road riding on your 29er with some off-road or gravel road jaunts.  the climbing ability was acceptable and the bike was lighter and faster as a result of the cross tire installation.  

Because they are not hardened against glass, running tubeless with sealant is a must for the streets of Spokane.  Remember, these are not high mileage tires so you can expect to replace the rear somewhere around 500 - 600 miles of road riding (your mileage may vary).

Friday, November 4, 2011

And We Are Live!

The Two Wheel Transit Online Store is officially open for business.  Browse and purchase the same great products we stock in the store all while wearing your pink bunny slippers.  You may have them shipped to your house or pick them up at Two Wheel Transit with Free Shipping.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

CX0 Tubless Update

I reported converting the CX0 tires on the Superfly to a tubeless setup on October 19.  The tires finally sealed-up and have been holding air consistently.  I have 336 miles on the set and have noted some tread wear in the center on the rear tire, but they are holding-up well overall.

Today was the first chance I had to run the tubeless setup on the HD Bluff Trails.  The last run across the bluff was with tubes and 80 psi in each tire to avoid pinch flats.  They gripped and handled well at that pressure, but the back end jumped around like a pogo stick.

Today I set them at 40 psi and rode to the south hill on the road and then jumped on the trail at Hatch road.  The reduced pressure made all the difference in the handling and improved the traction both front and rear.  They still roll fast through the hard pack and have enough traction to climb the steep rocky stuff.

I think this is the right setup for what I want this time of year though it might get a little pricey having to replace the rear tire every 500 - 600 miles.

I would call the experiment a success in that the 700x38 cross tires improve the road characteristics of the Superfly while making it fast and nimble on the bluff.  The ultimate test will be next weekend with a ride planned in Riverside State Park.  I will be happy even if they do not perform well in that environment since I do not normally need to ride my bike to the park for XC riding.

I will give an update next weekend after the ride.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Version 2.0

After much deliberation, Bruce and Geoff decided that the two year old Two Wheel Transit web site needed a new look and functionality.  The newly launched www.twowheeltransit.com reflects both where the shop is and where we are going in the future.

It is not perfect by any means and we will be tweaking and adding to it as we develop new content and features.  There will be daily Tip of the Day and you can read-up on any of the products we carry along with reviews as well.  There is also a user forum that lets people share what is on their cycling minds - though it is not specific to Two Wheel Transit.

Feel free to poke around and see what is new and let us know what you think.

Thanks for your support.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tubeless CX0 Update - Day 1

In Tubeless CX0 Update I described the conversion of my conventional 700x38 cross tires to a tubeless setup.  They were still holding air this morning although at much lower pressure than I left them with last night.  I topped them off to 60 psi and headed out on the open road.

After 1/4 mile I was treated to the sound of air escaping my rear tire and Stan's sealant spraying on my right calf with each rotation.  Dang, the hole that sealed last night, lost the plug.  I got it to seal up again with enough pressure remaining to limp back home.  I added a good measure of Stans and inflated the tire again.  

The hole sealed and I went out for an 18 mile road ride on the setup.  The tires held for the entire ride without incident.  This might just work after all....

The next report will be after doing some off-road testing.

See you on the road.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tubeless CX0 Update

Pulled the tubes out of the CX0 cross tires on the Superfly tonight and reinserted the tubeless stems I had removed over a week ago.  I was very pleased that they were still in the same spot I remembered placing them - a rarity in my garage.  Next I put a generous amount of Stan's NoTubes Sealant in the rear tire and popped the bead back on the rim.  It sealed immediately when I hit it with some high-pressure air with a satisfying "Pop". Then I noticed that it found and sealed the hole from the glass puncture on my rides this past weekend. So far, so good.

I applied the same process to the front tire but noticed that there was still a lot of soapy water sloshing around in it when I removed the tube.  As a result, it had washed the old Stan's sauce off of the hooks on the rim so it was not sealed as well as the rear.  It took more sealant and a couple more shots of pressure to pop and seat itself on the rim.

Remember that these are not specifically listed as tubeless tires so this application may not work.  I pumped them up to 80 psi and will check them in the morning to see if they hold.   If so, I will do some riding with lower pressures on the bluff to make sure they remain sealed during use.  I will have a couple of tubes and lots of air with me just in case.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

More CX0 Update

The cross tires work well for what I want them to do on the road and bluff trails with one exception.  There is  a lot of glass that has been ground into small bits on the road that make it hard to see.  As a result, I have had 2 flats on the rear in as many days.  The tires are designed well for what they are - off-road higher volume cross tires.  As such, they are not very resistant to glass punctures.

I think going the tubeless route is a must for the roads around here.  Doing so would provide a level of self-sealing for punctures while allowing for lower pressure for the off-road riding.

Monday, October 10, 2011

700x38 Ride Report

Last week I reported mounting 700x38 cyclocross tires on the Gary Fisher Superfly to get better roll on the road, while still maintaining enough off-road-ness to ride the HD Bluff trails occasionally.  I have about 75 miles on the set-up.

The road performance is outstanding.  These tires are light and give good traction with little rolling resistance or noise.  They make the carbon fiber mountain bike feel almost like a road bike and a lot of fun to ride on the road.  I also did a test run across the bluff on dry trails to test the off-road capabilities.

The tires performed well for climbing, stopping and maneuvering on the dry trails.  The were also fast rolling and improved the flick-ability and quickness of the bike.  I did notice that the rear would break free if I hit a berm while carrying a lot of speed, but is was nothing unmanageable. 

The big difference was the feel of the ride itself.  Going from high-volume, tubeless tires with 30 psi to low-volume 80 psi meant for a lot of chatter when riding over the rocks.  I pumped them to the maximum pressure for the road and to ensure I did not get a pinch flat over the rocks.  It was not the end of the world, but you could definitely feel the difference.

Overall, I think the ride quality is worth the trade-off for speed and noise since I mostly ride the bike on the road for now.  The wheels are still set-up for tubeless tires, so I may just find a tubeless cross tire to see how low I can go with the pressure and still keep a fast rolling tire.

Now if I could just get that trail of soap bubbles to stop following me around.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

700x38 and Change

I will admit at the beginning that it makes me a tad squeamish to take the carbon road bike out in the rain, mud, and grit.  It also seems to be a crime to strap a bunch of lights on the front and back when the available light is not sufficient for safety in the spring and fall.  These conditions just beg for the Superfly to come out and play.  It is very happy in nasty conditions and I still get a good workout.  As I stated in  Bike to work commute - the road less traveled if I could only have one bike, this would be it.

I have been running 2.25 tubeless tires on the SF with very good results since June.  But with strictly road riding now I find them to be a tad heavy and noisy.  As a matter of fact, they tip the scales at a svelte 800 grams each which is great for maintaining momentum over rocks and stuff, but not exactly ideal for bombing around the south hill.  After several rides I started thinking of switching to road tires since 29ers are actually 700C wheels on the bike.  That would take care of the road, but I still enjoy hopping on the HD Bluff trails on a regular basis so road tires would be less than ideal for those occasions.

I know some riders who switch to their cyclocross bikes for the tougher conditions this time of year.  This got me thinking about switching to cyclocross tires on the SF as a way to lose weight, reduce noise and rolling resistance while maintaining the ability to ride on dirt.  Rider 1 told me of riders on the pro mountain bike team he used to manage who trained on cross tires because it forced them to pick better lines. Sounds like a perfect fall experiment.

I chose the Bontrager CX0 Team Issue 700x38 tires for their low profile, aggressive side tread and reasonably low weight for this experiment.  A pair weighs less than a single 29-3 MTB tire so I already shed 1,000 grams.  It is curios that these are listed as cross race tires but they exceed the maximum width of 33mm listed in the USA Cyclocross Rules for 2011.

The transition was fairly easy since I just needed to remove the tubeless valve and rinse the Stans juice off the rims.  A couple of things to note with the new tires are that they are directional so you have to pay attention to their orientation and they tend to stick to the side of the rims so they don't seat all of the way at first.

This meant that I had to put a lot of soapy water on the beads to get them to pop in place.  It looked like a Disney movie where the bubble machine was out of control when I inflated the tubes but I did get some satisfying "POP" noises as the bead seated.

The visual result is a bike that looks like a burly commuter or hybrid.

A short run up the street indicates some promise for this setup.  It felt reasonably quick and fast for off-season riding.  Plan on some updates in the near future as I get some miles in on the road and trails in the coming weeks.  I'll be the one leaving a trail of bubbles in the rain.

Until then - See you on the road.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

In Case You Are Looking to do Something with the Kids this Weekend

Trips for Kids (TFK) founder Marilyn Price recently sent the following
message to Bike Bits, along with a PDF link to a great story from
Canadian Cycling Magazine: "I'm writing to tell you about one of our
chapter directors, Rick McFerrin. Rick had started our TFK Twin Cities
program in 2001, and then started another TFK program in Calgary when
he moved there in 2005. Last year he and his wife cycled from Calgary
to Mexico with their three kids (ages four to ten), and then they all
cycled back to Calgary." Here's the link to the story (in PDF format)
about this amazing journey:

Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Explainer

A couple of weeks back I wrote a blog about Charles Pelkey, a former VeloNews staff member who was fired from his job the same day he got a cancer diagnosis (http://twowheeltransit.blogspot.com/2011/08/i-was-just-riding-along-and.html). Charles, as you may recall, is a multi-talented guy, who has a new website with live, minute-by-minute coverage of cycling events (liveupdateguy.com), but he is dearer in my heart for being a lawyer who rides a column called "The Explainer."

For those of you who noticed, the Explainer space on the VeloNews website had remained well after Charles' dismissal and I was beginning to think it extremely cheeky that VN had continued to trade on his good name and erudite explanations. Well, it turns out that the space was being reserved as negotiations were apparently going on behind the scenes to get Mr. Pelkey back penning this column as a freelancer. Not the same as employment, which tends to come with insurance, which one finds handy when one is battling cancer, but nonetheless.

But without further ado, here is a link to the latest Explainer entry about clenbuterol issues - http://velonews.competitor.com/2011/09/news/the-explainer-reaching-the-threshold-and-a-doping-explainer_193156. Charles does an excellent job of answering difficult legal and technical questions in the cycling world with accuracy, insight and in a very reader-friendly fashion. Please take a second to click on the link so that Charles and VeloNews notices that it is a needed and appreciated service.

If you want to catch up on prior Explainer columns, here is the link for that - http://velonews.competitor.com/category/explainer.

Charles touches on his cancer fight in his latest Explainer column and I heard from him recently that chemo is tough but he is doing okay. Please take a second to check out his column.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Great Way to End the Shop Ride Series

Thursday night was the final Two Wheel Transit sponsored Shop Ride.  We closed the shop early that night so all shop employees would be able to join the 20 or so folks who came out.   Team Two Wheel was out in force with Gage, Paul, Andrei, Scott, and Tom all in the mix.

The weather was a perfect temperature in the high 70's which means a few of the riders heated things up with a blistering pace.  It was all in good fun and the ride regrouped several times to ensure no one was dropped.

Fortunately, Tom brought about 1/2 of the shop in his panniers because there were numerous flats and fixes that needed attention on this particular ride.  We had a couple of shop first on this ride - a kid threw something at the group (where were his parents?) as we rolled through the West Central neighborhood, and Patrick from the Scoop was waiting for us at the finish with his Scoopmobile full of great ice cream.  What a treat!

He had great flavors like huckleberry, peanut butter fudge, and strawberry - all of which I needed to "sample" in my post-ride depleted state.

Thanks to all who rode with us this year through rain, lightning, sleet, heat, wind, smoke, and tough kids.  A special thanks to the sponsors of Team Two Wheel: McSpadden General Contracting, Davids Pizza, The Scoop, Desautel-Hege Communications and NAS Pension Consulting for helping the team with jerseys and racing.  Also to team members: Andrei, Gage, Lynn, Paul, Scott, Taylor and Tom for racing their legs off, representing the shop and making the shop rides a success.

Look for the classic white and black shop jerseys at Spokefest next Sunday.

Bruce and Geoff

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Time to Add Some Fibers to the Diet

Despite my denials to the contrary, cooler weather is here for our morning rides.  Rides with temps in the low 40s makes it tough to ignore the inevitable change in seasons and the need for different clothing options.  The lower temperatures are compounded by our geography where cold, dense air collects in the small valleys at the bottom of our hills.  Sometimes the temperatures are as much as 15 degrees below those on top.

I tend to work-up a sweat on climbs so a 30 mph descent into colder air really gets my attention.  This weekend I had to pull-out my secret weapon to staying comfortable this time of year - Merino Wool head to toe.

The wool provides a super comfortable loft for warmth and superior wicking for moisture management which gives it the broad temperature range needed for this time of year - all in a single layer.  Ibex Giro Full Zip Long Sleeve Jersey, El Fito 3/4 Bib Knickers and Teko Mid-weight Hiking Socks.  There is nothing else I would rather be wearing - period.  I like the hiking socks since they are longer and thicker than regular cycling socks while still fitting comfortably in my road shoes.

If you are like me and want to comfortably extend your outdoor cycling season as far as possible - consider adding some (wool) fiber to you diet - it might be what the doctor ordered.

See you on the road.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Nicest Thing Said To Me On A Bike

You would think that the nicest thing said to me on a bike would something about being fast, or strong, or looking good in my lycra, or after I won a race, or something like that, right? But that is not what sticks out for me as being the nicest thing said to me on a bike. And, in fact, the nicest thing that I remember being said to me was not really meant to be nice.

Here is the scene. A group of twenty riders and about 20 miles out of town with a long way to go to get home. Far enough along that we were all warmed up, all breathing hard and hearts pumping. We came to the bottom of a longish and steep climb and the group started to split up. First it was a couple of clumps with little separation, but then the lead group spit out a few and the hind groups splintered into ones and twos as the impetus went from "stay with the group!" to "survive the hill!"

I drifted farther and farther back, so that I was in danger of being trailed off the ride completely alone as the leaders on the road were pushing farther and farther away. I wasn't the only one moving much slower than the front of the ride, but I was getting to be in the company of fewer people and quickly in danger of becoming the last one on the road.

As I came along another rider, he said, "I was looking for you. I know that all I have to do is stay close to you. 'Cause I know one of your teammates will make sure you get back in the group."

It was said in a slightly derisive/slightly amused tone and it wasn't intended as a compliment. In fact, it may have even been a veiled put-down, since the clear statement was that I was the weakest guy on the team; that someone "had" to look out for me. And is absolutely true that I am the weakest link in the chain. I mean "someone" has to be the weakest guy, right? And what's the downside to having stronger teammates, really?

Anyway, it struck me at the moment as funny, as well as true. He was just thinking about self-preservation, but even if it wasn't meant as such, I took it as a compliment.

When you watch pro racing, there are times that domestiques are called by the team director to fall back and protect a leader, or to pull a potential winner back into the group after a tire or bike change. That is a sign of respect for the leader and, frankly, it is just doing the job for the non-leaders. That is definitely not what was happening here. This would be more like a leader/rouleur falling back to help an aging and out-of-shape teammate back into the peloton who shouldn't have been on the road in the first place. In other words, that just doesn't happen in pro racing. And it wouldn't happen in any race I was in either.

But this was a group ride and the astute fellow who spoke to me knew that almost "no matter what," that I had some teammates who were not just teammates, but also friends, who would notice I wasn't there at the top of a climb (not surprising anyone) and they would take some action to make sure I wasn't left behind. It might be as simple as saying, "hey, let's wait up while everyone gets on" or it might be drifting off the back of the group as it rolled along flatter roads to offer me some shelter on their wheel and a pull back to the group. But, no matter how it was done, they would look out for me. And that, my friends, is a nice feeling.

And no matter how it was meant from the rider who was similarly dragged back by gravity that day, I took it as a great compliment.

He may have seen it as weakness in me or in my teammates, but I have to admit it was also observant. I hadn't really thought about the fact that those guys would come back and get me no matter what. I guess I knew that, but I hadn't thought about it in those terms or realized what he had realized as we were huffing and puffing up that hill. But after he said what he did, it made me guess that I had been a good enough friend to my teammates that I was a good enough friend to them that it was worth taking care of me. Even as slow moving as I was that day. And what nicer thing could you say to a guy than that?

So, to Rider One and Two, who were there for me that day and lots of other days, I say, "Thanks!" It is always good to be on a ride with you guys and I look forward to it many more times. Right up until the point you get tired of hauling me back to the group.
Rider Three

Reminder - Shop Ride Tonight at 5:30pm

Tonight's shop ride looks to be a great ride with good weather and a good group if the ride inquiries are any indication.  In addition to Team Two Wheel members being in attendance, there will also be a special guest I spoke with yesterday.  It is up to you to decide who it might be.  Thanks for a great summer!  See you there!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Last 2011 Official Shop Ride This Thursday

Once spring finally arrived, we had a very good and consistent string of riders for the Thursday night shop rides.  We have had a great time with each group that attends, but the waning available evening light means the season is coming to an end.  With that in mind, we will be holding our last official Shop Ride of 2011 this Thursday at 5:30 pm.

Team Two Wheel will be on hand to offer autographs, riding tips and regale us with stories of racing and adventure on two wheels.  The ride will cover the 20 mile loop from the shop to 7 bridge and back and is no-drop as always.

We would love to have a large turn-out for the final ride this year - so please mark your calendars.

See you on the road.

Friday, August 26, 2011

I was just riding along and . . .

The worst words in a bike mechanic's life are, "I was just riding along and . . ." This is usually followed by a tale of innocence that somehow results in a tangled mass of broken bike parts that is assuredly covered by warranty or it's the mechanics fault and therefore a shop expense. These would be funny except for the deadly serious approach by said innocent customer.

Former VeloNews editor Charles Pelkey was recently "just riding along" when he ended up a mass of broken parts himself. Before July 27, he was a well-respected journalist working for a major cycling publication. After July 27, his position at VeloNews had been eliminated and he was diagnosed with cancer.

As a writer and editor at VeloNews, I was quite aware of three particular job duties he had. He is, in addition to a journalist, a fellow attorney and was writing a column called "The Explainer". It is an unfortunate side-effect of our current society that all sports involves an extraordinary amount of legal wrangling and cycling is no different. Charles would wear his lawyer's hat, use his cyclist perspective and then come up with an explanation of the legal processes surrounding doping cases or other courtroom matters that the man-on-the-street could understand and appreciate. It was a voice of sanity and much appreciated, even by those who understood the legal process.

Charles next specialty was live-blogging for races. I have gotten up many an early morning to read the minute-by-minute report of races in Europe which Charles was providing by watching a live feed of the race and reporting the action online. It is surprising how live and how real the action is when you are reading it, but it absolutely takes you onto the road where you live the attacks and counter attacks in your mind's eye, and then feel like you are there for the final rush to the line. It is just as exciting to read it line by line as see it on TV, and often for our beloved one-day races that is not an option. I confess to also using these feeds to supplement my desk-bound attention to these races from my office and they are a great way to keep up but not have you slack-jawed staring at a TV or video feed during the grand tours. Luckily for us, Mr. Pelkey has taken this skill with him on the road and is now reporting on races from LiveUpdateGuy.com. His coverage of the Vuelta today was supplemented by ESPN's Bonnie Ford and Mad Dog Media's Patrick O'Grady (creator of the "Old Guys who get Fat in the Winter" cartoons, among much else). It was by far the fastest way to know about Tyler Farrar's crash. Oh, you didn't know about his crash today? You should have been tuned in.

Charles' last specialty, of which I was aware at least, was the jovial and kind-hearted rejection of amateur bloggers who want to step into the limelight. Yes, I was one of said bloggers who contacted Mr. Pelkey to offer my services. I thought that VeloNews wouldn't have realized that they needed the cycling tales of an overweight 40-something enthusiast, but that if they would just take a look at this plucky star-in-training, it would be a match made in heaven. I would speak directly to their primary readership, that is made up of other overweight 40-something enthusiasts who want more and better equipment, more time to ride and more time to contemplate our collective obsession. Alas, it was not to be, but Charles couldn't have been pleasanter about it.

As a result of these specialties, I was mightily sorry to find out that not only had Charles been dispatched by VN, but that he was facing surgery and chemo treatment along with the impending end to his medical insurance. It's a cold world sometimes.

Thankfully for Mr. Pelkey, he has friends and resources and, just for good measure, he has a ChipIn account from NY Velocity. He has asked people to hold up on donations for now, but just in a case, here is the link - Pelkey ChipIn.

And lastly, just so you know there is some humor in this dark story, here is a Twitter exchange between Mr. Pelkey and someone well known for his work in cancer, Mr. Armstrong - http://twitpic.com/5xzbyo.

So there I was, just riding along when . . .

Best of luck to Charles Pelkey on the road ahead. Along the way, be sure to stop by for live updates of bike racing at LiveUpdateGuy.com.

Rear Rubber

As much as I hate to admit it, it is probably time to replace my rear tire.  If you can't tell from the photos, it is down into the 2nd layer of threads.  Most likely the result of my panic stop yesterday which means I rode another 14 miles on it with 3 high speed corners and a 37 mph descent after it occurred.

Nothing risky or dangerous about that....

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Case of Contributory Negligence?

An accident is seldom just one event or decision - it is usually the result of a series that create a causal chain - like all the tumblers in a lock needing to line-up in the right order and click in to place for the key to be turned.

Quite often in personal injury cases or other liability issues, a portion of the blame for actions leading up to the accident is assigned to each party.  This apportionment should theoretically ensure that one party does not shoulder the full liability when the injured party somehow contributed to the circumstances that lead to an accident or injury.  It is probably much more complicated than I am able to grasp, but hopefully close enough to accurate to serve as setting for the remainder of today's post.

I have been riding in the early morning light for the last few weeks and have taken it for granted even though I know it will soon wane and we will be running lights just to ride before work.  The ability to ride as late as 7am meant that the sun has been high enough so as not to pose a danger to me on a bike by blinding an oncoming motorist or make it difficult to see me with back lighting.  Today I had an 8am meeting which meant I needed to be out the door on my bike by 6am to get a ride in prior to the meeting.

As I was leaving, I noted that the sun had not broken above Tower Mountain yet and briefly considered a flashing headlight in addition to the Superflash Blinky I have been wearing on the rear the past week.  My westerly route on 57th Ave would put the sun at my back and very low on the horizon.  Adding a flashing light on the front would increase my chances of being seen by oncoming traffic in these conditions.  "No, I am in a hurry - too much time to mount, I will be late for my meeting, I will be careful, it is light enough" were all justifications for setting-out with no headlight. CLICK

The first 3rd of the road ride was pleasant and uneventful followed by turning west on 57th Avenue with the rising sun behind me.  CLICK.  As I neared the Starbucks across from Albertsons, I was focused on trying to time the stoplight at Regal and lost a little of my situational awareness.  Then it happened, a driver in an SUV heading east into the sun suddenly entered the turn lane and began a left turn into the Starbucks drive-through entry just as I was about to cross her path. CLICK  We simultaneously recognized an impending collision  and jammed-on the brakes - both stopping just in time to avoid the impact.  Disaster averted but it probably left the driver shaken, angry or upset at the near miss.  

I was not particularly upset since close calls happen to me rather frequently and I continued west thinking about the contributing factors to the near miss.  I looked at my shadow in the next sunlit area and saw how long it was compared to recent morning rides. 

This means the sun was really low and just over my right shoulder.  The angle was almost directly in the turning motorists eyes.  I thought how much a light would have improved my chances of being noticed and allow her time to register my presence, speed and direction.  How much had my actions contributed to the near miss?  Fortunately that question won't be answered by an investigating officer or jury since the collision was avoided.  

Had I contributed?  Yes, I could have taken steps to be more visible in a variety of light conditions.  Now it is time to move from denial that summer is ending and to dust of the lights again, pull-out the bright clothing and  choose routes that minimize the direct sun behind me.  Motorists are human and make mistakes too.  We need to increase visibility, ride defensively and take measures to avoid being hit by a car.  Otherwise, we are just lining-up the tumblers needed to turn the key that leads to an incident.

See you on the road.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Day at the Track

7 Eleven Velodrome; Colorado Springs, Colorado
While at a Medicine of Cycling Conference in Colorado Springs, I learned that the Winslow BMW US Grand Prix of Sprinting was going on this weekend at the Velodrome. I had never been to the Velodrome in Colorado Springs. In fact had never been to see track racing live. There were young racers there from Columbia, Trinidad, Holland, Australia, Canada and of course, the US. I was able to see Sprints, Team Sprints, Keirin racing and some Flying Lap record attempts. Pretty awesome. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Day 1 Medicine of Cycling Conference

Yesterday was Day1 of the Medicine of Cycling Conference. It was held at the US Olympic Training
Center in Colorado Springs. This conference is designed to try to bring together physicians interested in cycling to share their expertise as team doctors and generally improve the medical offered to cyclists.

Topics this day discussed being a team doctor for amateur and professional teams, osteoporosis in cyclists (a significant issue because cycling doesn't “load” the bones to strengthen like other weight bearing activities like running or even walking), sport psychology (talking about the psychological characteristics of champions and over-training or rather under-recovery), cardiac concerns, concerns specific to women and exercise induced asthma (how it effects performance and what to do about it).

Lunch was in the dining hall with the athletes that are there training. Lo-fat healthy food to power these young bodies efficiently and effectively. No burger and fries here. There were several countries represented, Holland and Australia were ones that I was able to identify with some certainty. It was amazing to see the many young athletes relaxing, but reminding myself that these are some of the finest athletes in the country and perhaps the world.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

47 F - Really?

The last time I rode when the temperature was below 50 F before today was Hoopfest weekend - which does not seem like all that long ago.  Today it was 47 F when I rolled out the door and even colder where the cold air settles in the low spots along Palouse Highway.  Though I love the Ibex wool, I just don't quite feel prepared to pull it out of the drawer yet.

Remember the shop ride Thursday night at 5:30 pm.  Pizza will be served afterward courtesy of Summit Ridge Christian Fellowship which means we will have some Tri-guys along for the ride.  Leaves and returns to Two Wheel Transit, 1405 W. 1st Ave.

See you on the road.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Some Like it Hot

Here is a news flash for you - summer is finally here!  It arrived just in time for mid-July riding after nearly doing in the Ironman racers in late June with near freezing water temperatures.  I am a bonafide - hot-weeny when it comes to riding in warmer temperatures.  My preferred ambient temperature is between 55F - 65F which means I need to get out early in the day when highs will be in the normal summer range.

Today, I was thinking of doing just that, but various activities kept delaying my departure to the point where I would be about 5 or 6 hours later than normal.  This would not be critical as the temperatures would still be in the 70s.  As I pondered this scenario, I started thinking back to the seemingly endless winter and late spring and summer and how looking forward to summer heat is all that sustained me during those times.  Today, I wanted to feel the heat that I dreamed of for months on end.  To do so meant I would have to go about 3pm to experience riding at the high temperature of the day - 90F.

As I rolled up Baltimore about 3:15, I could feel waves of heat radiating up from the pavement.  Occasionally, I would feel a bit of breeze, but it too was just like a blast furnace on my face.  I usually, start perspiring toward the top of the two mile climb, but today it evaporated as soon as it hit my skin so I felt amazingly dry.  My throat was parched at the top of the climb and the tepid water in my bottle felt great.  I savored the heat knowing that the days are getting shorter and I felt just a little bit of fall on yesterday morning's ride - it was as if I hoped I could somehow store it up to use on a dark, cold day in December.

Another thing I noticed is my knees did not feel sore as they usually do on the morning rides in cool temperatures and just out of bed.  My cadence was higher (not a bad thing for me) since I knew I would blow-up trying to push higher gears.  I still did not feel uncomfortable even nearing the top of my second climb up Jamison - just a really dry throat from the effort of the climb.  I was comfortable throughout the ride and found I was really enjoying it - to the point of thinking how I can get some more hot rides in before the weather turns cold.  By that point, if I have a bunch of hot rides under my belt, the change will feel good even though I have to add a layer of clothing.  Hopefully, I will be ready for it and feel I pulled the most heat from this short summer as possible.

See you on the road.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Measure of a Man

We frequently hear of ways to measure a person’s worth – by their adherence to principles, by their faith, by their actions, by their actions under stress or at war, by the way they treat their mother or their spouse or their children or their dog, by the way they dress or shine their shoes, or the way they show up on time, or the way they keep smiling in the face of adversity. I suppose all of these have their place in considering the underlying character of an individual, but I have another way of looking at it. I like to measure a man by the way he rides a bike.

Well, now that I think of it, it isn’t so much how they ride a bike, but how they ride a bike in a group, and even better over a number of group rides. When you ride with a group of people, you get a strong sense of who they are, and not just who they are on a bike, but who they are as humans in both their strengths and their weakness. I think you get to see just what someone is made of and maybe for the same reason that you get the measure of a person when you go through something stressful together. I think, though, that going through a car wreck or a hurricane or a jewel heist is a more compressed or one-time version of that stress and some people shine when they might not otherwise. Riding a bike often results in putting you under pressure, and it does so regularly in some groups, and then the good and bad become elevated or more extreme. I suppose a group ride is a bit more like a marriage, with some easy times, some hard times, some really really hard times and somewhere an underlying idea that you can stop showing up when it's not worth it anymore.

As a result, you have the chance to see how people react to stress and pressure; not only their own, but others’ as well. You see what happens when they are strong and you are not, and vice versa. You see what happens when they run low on food, or energy, or time. You see what happens when accidents or mechanicals occur. When the wind blows or it rains or snows or the sun is baking everyone. When these things happen, you see the good and bad in people. You see those who look after others, you see leadership, you see selfishness, you see thoughtful and un-thoughtful actions.

Even when the ride is rolling along and no one is under pressure, you hear what people have to say. You hear comments about sex and money and business and religion and politics and other people and sex. Or you notice people not making comments about one or more of these things. You hear about plans and goals and intentions in life or sport or business. You hear about successes and failures in these same arenas. And you hear reactions to all of these things happening to other people. I hasten to add that I don’t mean to sound like every group ride is a rolling philosophy session or time on a psychiatrist’s couch. Some rides take place with nothing more meaningful than a discussion of bikes and fitness, or breakfast and passing gas. But when you add up day after day, or weekend after weekend, and in particular when you add up year after year, you really get to know the people with whom you ride bikes.

I ride, sometimes, with a group of guys who have proclaimed on their jerseys, "Non siamo qui per fare degli amici. Siamo qui per girare!” Which translated means, “We're not here to make friends. We're here to ride.” And maybe today, just like 20 years ago when those guys started riding together, it was true, but along the way, you can’t help making some friends, and you can’t help taking the measure of a few of those riders.

And to bring this rumination to a close, I have to confess it was inspired by considerations of one of those riders - the eternally strong Sam J. He recently had the opportunity to do me and my family a good turn, and he did so in spades. And while I am deeply gratified by it, I am not surprised. I had taken the measure of this man a long time ago. While we rode bikes.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Cool new taillight!

Heads-up to any of you who've wished for a REALLY powerful taillight. We got some of the new Cygolite Hotshot in. They're affordable ($40), self-contained, lightweight (56 grams with mount), they recharge from a USB port, and they have a LOT of power. Want to be seen in daylight? Get one of these, make sure it's aimed straight & level, and you're in business. This is far, far more powerful than the popular SuperFlash or any other taillight we've sold.

Another interesting feature: they're adjustable. The flashing modes can be sped up or slowed down by holding down a button. Adjusting the steady mode changes its intensity. So if your commute is partly the Centennial Trail, and partly roadways, you can set up the steady-burn mode pretty low for the CT where you don't want to be blasting people, and then switch to one of the full-power flashing modes when you hit the street.

Here's an impromptu video clip I shot:

And here's the runtime chart from the back of the package:

We currently have four of these, come check 'em out :)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Midnight Century, 2011 edition

I rode down to The Elk on Saturday night for the Midnight Century. Wow, what a turnout! John counted 38 starters, and even more remarkably, it appears that at least 34 of them finished! I'm really impressed, folks... that's a daunting course overall. The first 25 miles are just there to lure you in ;)

This year, I didn't get nearly as much training in, so I was about 6-8 pounds over my "raceday" weight and felt feeble. Where's my leg strength gone...? Maybe I'm just getting old. :( But now the course is familiar, the weather was perfect, and my bike was set up really well for this ride, so I just pressed on, resolving not to overdo it.

We started at 11:59PM. I thought it would be cool to beat the official sunrise time of 5:34AM, but between painting smiley-faces and direction arrows with spray chalk, and stopping to fix a problem with one of my lights, I had too much off-the-bike time to hit that target, and came in 11 minutes after sunrise. Here's the Garmin's results.

My vision was flickering, a sure sign I was reaching my endurance limits. I soft-pedalled home and discovered a shortcoming in my MC planning: recovery food! I had only two pieces of bread left, so I made a fat peanut-butter & honey sandwich and guzzled the last of my chocolate milk, plus a Powerbar and a bowl of cereal. After a soak in the tub and a nap, I rode down to the store and rectified the food situation: ice cream... cookies... ooo, pizza! And more chocolate milk. There, that oughta do it. :)

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Little Bike Commute that Could

My mode of transportation to and from work is less about my desire to bike commute and more about what else I may have going on that day.  Some days I can bike to work and stay at work all day then simply bike home.  Other days require that I pick-up kids, carry heavy stuff or attend meetings that would be very difficult to get to by bike.

On days that I know I will be driving, I typically get a road ride in before I need to go to work.  This means making sure that I ride early so I am back and showered in time to take it downtown.  The other day, I was planning on doing just that until some email responses and other tasks extended beyond the time I had estimated and my morning ride became impossible if I was to make it to work on time.  Dang, I really needed a ride that day.

Fortunately, it occurred to me that I still had enough time to grab my stuff and bike to work and still get my needed riding in for the day.  Normally, I bike commute when I have ample time - not when I don't have enough time.  In this case biking the 11+ miles on my bike was going to save me time - wow, what a concept.

Next choice was which bike and route to take.  Should I bomb in on the road bike or thrash in on the mountain bike and enjoy the High Drive Bluff trails on the way?  I am not sure why, but the mountain bike seemed to make the most sense that day.  The ride was a nice combination of both road and dirt trail though a little warm due to the weather.

One thing I noticed though was that my off-road riding was not as confident and fluid as I remembered it being last time I was on the bluff.  The grass and foliage on either side of the trail was much taller and more dense than I remembered and interfered with my sight lines and the lack of moisture made the surface a touch sketchier than this spring.  All of which conspired to make me ride a little slower.  Would I make it on time?

I probably lost a little time on the bluff, but the last mile on the road was heaven as I went flying down from 14th to 1st and made every green light along the way. Yes, I made it in less than an hour and felt exhilarated upon arriving.  This experience has made me rethink the whole time issue with respect to bike commuting and look for more opportunities to combine my need to ride and the need to be at work.

The ride home was a little more relaxed and a great chance to enjoy being outside on a bike on a warm summer evening.

See you on the road (or trails).

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Famous Ed's shop ride

Tonight's shop ride started from Famous Ed's up at 57th & Regal. Wow, that was some great turnout! I didn't count, but there must've been at least 30 of you out there, making it one of the biggest turnouts ever. Do you folks prefer the South Hill over our usual Riverside loop, or was it just a good conjunction of the planets tonight?

Reminder - Special Shop Ride Tonight at 6 PM

Shop ride tonight 6pm riding the Hangman Valley Loop.  Departs and returns to Famous Ed's 2911 E 57th Ave.  See you there!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Bike, a Summer Morning and a Tailwind

Saturday night, two friends stayed at our house overnight on their way to Pullman to play golf.  They offered to drop me and my bicycle off somewhere along the way so I could ride home.  I quickly rejected the idea of going all the way to Pullman with them after a 57 mile ride on Saturday that included Mt. Spokane.  I wanted a couple of hours in the saddle –nothing too taxing.  I had them drop me in Rosalia with its rich selection of Palouse rural roads in all directions.

I chose a route that would take me north first up Old Highway 195 to Spring Valley Rd and then took a right towards Waverly.  The minute I started pedaling up the gradual hill out of Rosalia, I knew this was going to be one of the best rides of the summer.  The wind was blowing strong and steady out of the south.  And my destination?  About 40 miles north.  I big-ringed it through the wheat, barley, peas and alfalfa for about ½ an hour when I saw a rider, head-down into the wind, coming towards me.  Well, this being a roadie south of Spokane, I knew him.  So Roger and I stopped, stood in the middle of the road (you can do this on Spring Valley Rd. on a Sunday morning) and shot the breeze for 15 minutes.  I continued on my merry way, dropping through Waverly and heading east til I joined Highway 27.  I turned north again for a few miles, went through Fairfield and took a left onto Jackson Rd.  Jackson connected me to Valley Chapel and me and that tailwind whizzed back to my south Spokane home with embarrassingly little effort.  It was a rolly 40 mile ride that seemed like a flat 20.  I felt guilty.  I felt like I should go do a couple of hill repeats up Tower Mountain or chop a cord of wood.  But then I thought about why we REALLY ride our bikes and it is because it is a LOT OF FUN.  And I was lucky to get a perfect sunny day with the time to enjoy it.  And I sure did.

These two never miss an opportunity to have a good time doing their favorite thing on a summer day.  These are two of my dogs doing what they do best.  

Wella Clairol

Friday, July 29, 2011

Now I Get It

I am for sure a novice mountain bike rider. The last time I did some real mountain biking was back before there were tracks for mountain bikes and before there was even front suspension. Then most of the riding was dirt roads and no big thrill. I think that speaks for itself as to what I thought about the thrill of mountain biking. A big grind to get uphill for a brief thrill. I didn't get it. Earlier in July, I was at a medical conference at the Sleeping Lady Resort in Leavenworth and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try some mountain biking and learn why so many people are so excited about it.

Once in Leavenworth, I asked around. At Das Rad Haus, the mountain bike shop for Leavenworth, they mentioned Freund Canyon, as did a couple others that I asked. It seemed easy to get to, just a mile or so out of town, so off I went. Starting in town, meant going uphill, (Duh! It's called mountain biking) I obeyed the sign pointing me to the right for the uphill.

It was slow going. In fact, I was going slow enough that I fell over 3 times. Twice I dropped a wheel into the gully in the middle of the double track, which brought me to a standstill and once was my fault as I spun out my back wheel when I stood to pedal. At multiple times on this, I wondered about the wisdom of my route choice and the allure of mountain biking in general. 

I did not know this trail at all, but had read  it was a loop.  After climbing for what seemed like forever and always away from town, I was beginning to wonder if I had somehow gotten off the track. I continued to see tire tracks, so continued on. Finally the trail switched back, but did not start to go down.

Oddly enough I heard a motorcycle close by and shortly two motorcycles passed me. At least I knew I was on the right path.

Finally, I was clearly topping out. Then came the downhill single track run for 4 ½ miles. What a hoot.

Now I Get It. No crashes and I am sure almost anyone could have done it faster, but Now I Get It! No air for me, although there were clearly some ramps that had been used by others.

Even some water hazards. It is a lot steeper gulley than it looks in the photo and I was not sure how to navigate this. I ended up walking my bike across (chicken) though I am sure there are riders that would bunny hop it without a thought.
And some spots to just let the bike run.  I forgot to check the max speed when I finished, but anything down a tight single track can seem pretty fast.

And some nice views. I knew I would like that part, the peace of being off road and up in the hills. Someday I would like to do a back country multi day trip. But I was totally surprised at my reaction to the downhill. Now I get it.

Owner 1

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Trip to the Hardware Store

Each person who rides has their personal inventory of reasons to get out on a bike.  Depending on the day, these include: exercise, transportation, community, enjoying the outdoors, competition and recreation.  For one particular rider it appears to be like a trip to the hardware store.

On a recent ride we were returning home on Highway 195 and I hear him exclaim "Oh!" behind me and come to a stop.  My mind is reeling with possibilities as I stop to see what happened.  Did he flat, or cramp, or get a critter in his spokes?  What would cause a cyclists to suddenly abandon forward momentum in a headwind?

As I rolled back to his position I saw him examining something as if he were a Spandex-clad Indiana Jones with a valuable ancient artifact. There he was with a huge smile on his face and what appeared to be a large metal hook.  He was mumbling incoherently about how this would be perfect for his pickup or tractor or something as he eyed his new prize.

If you have spent much time on the area roads you may have noticed that they are littered with all sorts of things from glass to car engines and tools.  This guy is a professional at a well-respected financial institution who uses his bike rides for a hardware scavenger hunt.  I can only imagine the list of desirable items he has scrolling through his head on each bike ride.  It probably ranges from 12mm sockets to a Flux Capacitor. He was raised on a farm so I guess he knows what to do with all  the tools and implements the rest of us routinely dodge while riding.  Me, I have enough old parts and things I never use in my garage.

I have occasionally read about this type of behavior in the Cycling Spokane blog, but never witnessed it in person.  Apparently it helps keep the roads clean and reduces their carbon footprint by recycling.  The item in question easily weighed more than this person's bike so I was even more amazed when he stuffed it into his jersey pocket and remounted his bike. Then he spun away with his jersey stretched to the point of just barely clearing his rear tire.

The good news is the extra weight allowed me to quickly catch back up and match his pace for the remainder of the ride.  I have a new strategy for riding with him now.  I will litter the road with shiny tools and parts before riding with him on days when I am feeling a bit sluggish and get a secret rest stop each time he stops to examine a new artifact.  Eventually, he will have so much extra weight in his pockets that even I will be able to match his pace.  Sometimes smart is better than fit when it comes to cycling.

See you on the road.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Birthday Wrap Up

For a lot of blogs this week that focus on cycling, they will be doing a Tour de France wrap up, but why would we want to be following the crowd? No, instead, let's do a wrap up on my personal birthday.

My day started . . .

No, I'm not really going to re-cap my day, but something did strike me as I was unwrapping presents. It turns out that I am a serious cycling fan. Maybe a deranged or unhinged fan. Here are a couple of items that were in my birthday present collection.

A new bike seat - yes, I had a fair hand in getting this present, in that I specified the specific thing I wanted and then begged for it, but I was still unreasonably happy to pull it out of a gift bag.

A check - yes, I got a check from thoughtful relatives and upon seeing it, I immediately considered what cycling item I could buy or what bigger project this particular check should contribute to in the future. It never occurred to me that I should do anything else with this money. After all, I'm sure my kids will get scholarships and my home repairs will fix themselves if I just wait long enough.

It's All About the Bike - A book about building up a custom bike and apparently refuting that other's guy's book suggesting it is not all about the bike.

David Millar's new book, Racing Through the Dark - Not available yet in the US, my thoughtful and wonderful wife ordered this from the UK so that I could enjoy as soon as possible. I was hungry for this book. I was thirsty for this book. I wanted to read this book so much I could taste it. Okay, maybe I'm just hungry, but I really really wanted this book and it is very nice to have a spouse that supports this need by spending as much on postage as the book to get it for me.

Clothes - I also got some clothes, but it does make me wonder if I can return them for cash so I buy some more cycling stuff . . .

I see a theme here. I used to think that I just "liked" cycling, but I think I may have moved past that point. It may be a sickness or an obsession, but like most addicts, I'm fine with it. I ain't going to rehab yet, not matter what happened to a specific chanteuse.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Speaking of New Views

Anyone who has been on a Thursday night ride with the shop knows it is typically the same route, but with different people and speeds each week.  Even though it is the same route, it is never the same ride and never gets boring.  Regardless, it is sometimes good to have a venue change just to mix it up a bit.

We have never done a remote start shop ride, but want to try one on August 4th from a cool location and ride one of Spokane's signature rides.  We hope it works, but need everyone's help to make it a success and spread the word.

Famous Ed's is a very cool neighborhood bar and restaurant that also serves David's pizza.  It is located at 2911 E 57th Avenue and will provide a great starting and stopping point to ride the Hangman Valley loop that evening.  The start time will be 6pm (for this ride only) to allow everyone to get up there and ready to ride.

All other Thursday rides will continue to leave from the shop at 5:30pm.

After riding the loop in reverse we will gather again at Famous Ed's to recover with some pizza and your favorite beverage.  The owners even said we can bring our bikes inside if we like.

As always, this is a no drop ride at recovery pace and we will regroup at the bottom of Hatch, top of Baltimore and whichever route we take to get back up the south hill.  

We hope to see you there.  Please help spread the word by letting your riding pals know about this ride.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A New View

Hey Subaru, thanks for yielding to oncoming traffic....

In case you have not noticed, there is a significant amount of road construction underway throughout Spokane this summer.  It disrupts routes, affects businesses and makes our life seem miserable as we try to get to where we are going.  From our perspective, most of it is badly needed repair and upgrades to existing roads.

None of us really likes it, but we all endure the hardship for the common good.  An unexpected benefit comes from the necessity to change our routes whether it is on the morning ride or during commutes.  One such change became necessary as a result of Phase II of the work on South Grand recently.  

I had to find a new route to get to 33rd during my morning ride up the south hill and back and settled on a circuitous path around Hart Field and onto Manito.  The change in my ride was not huge, but the modification was enough that it caused me to notice different houses, yards, landscaping and people enjoying their morning.    It also altered the rhythm of my ride slightly to avoid some of the boredom that can come from riding the same route day after day.

Just like I vowed to ride without the bike computer occasionally in Joy Ride, I am also committing to altering my routine to include different parts of the route on a whim just to see what I can see.  Who knows what I may find.

See you on the road.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cycling is the New Golf - No, Really

Golf has long been viewed as a place to entertain associates, a way to recreate and seal business deals with customers.  It also has its own rules and nuances that seem foreign to newcomers and outsiders.  We believe that cycling has now achieved the same status as golf when it comes to bringing people together for various reasons.

Like golf, cycling together let's you wear brightly colored clothing that may not be viewed as welcome in other settings.  A lot of money is raised for deserving charities through golf tournaments and organized bike rides.  Of course neither is fully appreciated when viewed on television by non-participating friends, spouses or teens.

These days you hear more business people who plan bike rides with clients and associates to create a closer bond and opportunities to discuss business in a more relaxed atmosphere.  There are even phrases that are correlated between the sports.  Here are just a few:

In golf you play through - in cycling you say "on your left" as you pass a slower rider.   Or what is your handicap compared to what is your gearing?   Fore is replaced with car-back to warn of an approaching motorized vehicle.

Golfers have been known to stop for a beer or two after a round on the links which is also true for cyclists -think Famous Eds, the Elk or the Flying Goat.

In our opinion there are many things that make cycling better than golf.  You do not have to make a tee time, you can start and finish just about anywhere, you get real exercise, you do not typically lose as many balls and you do not have to worry about a foursome.

We are sure that now that this theory has been put out there that more similarities and examples will come to mind so stay tuned for a future update.  Now, if the requisite golf tournament for high school reunions could just be replaced with a 50 mile group bike ride.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Shop Ride Tonight at 5:30

The weather looks good with highs in the mid-70s.  Come out and ride at a recovery pace for this no-drop ride. Leaves the shop at 5:30 pm and returns at around 7:00.

See you there.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Well, It Finally Happened

Winter would not let go this year and spring was wet and wimpy.  Even the first day of Bike to Work Week was monsoon-like.  With such poor weather leading into summer you would think that riders would be frantic to spend as much time on the road as possible.  Yes, you would think.

A very dear customer was in last week and we discussed their new bike and whether they had been out on it yet.   No they said, the prior two weeks were too wet to ride.  I asked about the following week to which they uttered the words I thought I would never hear this year - "It's been too hot to ride outside this week."

It was as if all conversation in the shop stopped and all heads turned in the direction of the unthinkable phrase.  Time seemed to stand still and the magnitude of the words sunk in.  I asked for a clarification and received the same response.  Slowly the shock abated and conversation began again, though in more muted tones.

Usually, riders start altering their riding times when the highs hit somewhere in the mid 90's, but that just means they go earlier in the day.  If memory serves me, it has only reached 90 once this year so it seems far from too hot to ride.

I am going to get out every day there is not ice on the road even if it is for a spin around the neighborhood.  If it is too hot, then that means a ride to the Scoop to cool off.

See you on the road.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Di2 Update

One of the burdens of shop ownership is that of R&D - sometimes you must be the guinea pig for the sake of the business.  This is a very new role for me since historically, by the time I adopted new technology it was not new anymore.  Seriously, I did not have the new fangled index shifting on a road bike until some 21 years after it had been introduced.  That's how far behind the curve I have traditionally been.

Two Wheel Transit applied with Shimano to be a Di2 Electronic Shifting Demo Center.  This meant we needed to have a suitably equipped bike for the purpose so I volunteered my 6 Series Trek Madone.  The system has been installed on the bike for almost 4 months and has proven itself to be reliable, accurate, quick and solid.  As a matter of fact the battery just  indicated that it was down to 50% which is proving to be better charge life than advertised by Shimano.  The other cool thing is that there is nothing that goes out of adjustment with normal use - no more shifting adjustments or tuneups.  My only complaint has to do with my clumsiness when stopping occasionally I initiate an unintentional shift that makes starting again a little more difficult until the shift completes.

I am going out on a limb and predicting that electronic shifting will be on the majority of road bikes sold 3 years from now.  The introduction of Ultegra level electronic shifting is a precursor of things to come.  Next will be mountain bikes and the XTR system.  Time will tell if I am right.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Shop Ride Tonight at 5:30 with Pizza Afterward

The weather looks to be warm and clear tonight for the 1st pizza ride of the month.  This no-drop ride will leave from the shop at about 5:30 pm and return after riding to 7 mile bridge to hot pizza.  Ride and pizza are free, so feel free to join the fun.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Andy Schleck's Madone 6.9

Bike Radar did a nice job of profiling Andy's 6.9 Madone with Shimano Di2 in time for the tour.  The Schleck paint theme is currently available as an option through Trek Project One.  They even offer the 140 mm stem that Andy prefers. Enjoy.


Monday, July 4, 2011

Cycling and Navel-Gazing

Yesterday as I started my commute home, I rounded the corner and was hit with a hellacious headwind. I hadn’t been paying attention from the climate controlled environment in my office and I was unprepared for it. Not usually being daunted by the wind, I just put my head a bit lower and starting pumping. At some point I usually find an equilibrium where a bit of increased power to the pedals overcomes the headwind and progress continues steadily. Yesterday, however, the wind was stronger than I thought and it was very effectively catching my swollen panniers, acting as a perfect drag on my efforts. Unwisely, perhaps, I just amped up the wattage a bit and tried to keep going at the same speed. I was only able to keep this up for a handful of blocks when I realized that starting an effort like that 30 seconds into my ride was unwise and further, no matter how undaunted I was hoping my courage would be, that wind was a serious and unrelenting force. Quickly I was forced to give up. I stopped pedaling, huffed and puffed a few big breaths and hung my head down in exhaustion. As my eyes re-focused, I realized I was gazing at my own navel.
Now, navel-gazing got a bad rap in the 70’s as legions of middle-aged men decided to abandon wives, jobs, mortgages and commitments to “find” themselves, which reportedly involved a great deal of navel-gazing. Of course, these guys weren't literally staring at their navels, they were getting high and driving red sports cars while trying to pretend they weren’t getting any older. They were actually getting older, although they certainly weren’t getting any wiser, but that was initially besides the point. Somewhere along the way, however, all that short-term fun with convertibles and blondes had to give way to the unrelenting reality of settling paunch and rising hairlines. From there, it was a quick re-direction from recreational drug use to meditation, EST and the aforementioned navel-gazing.
If they had actually taken the time to really focus on their navels, it is possible they would have been struck by the awesome process of life, from creation to birth, to the severing of the umbilical cord leading to that very belly button, and from there in an inescapable journey from toddling infancy to adulthood to the inevitable decline as their bodies broke down. They might have taken the time to reflect upon that journey and the community of family and friends that makes that process possible and worthwhile. They might have come to realizations about meanings and purposes of not only their lives, but all of the lives around them. Or instead, they might have decided that navel-gazing was less fun than riding around in that convertible. I don’t really know. I wasn’t there.
What I do know is that none of that went through my mind as I gazed at my navel and caught my breath. Instead, I realized that my own navel was inappropriately cushioned by excess poundage that was not helping my pedal my bike. That staring at my navel was dangerous and stupid while I was rolling down a busy city street with high winds. So instead of any more navel-gazing, I just started pedaling again and made my home in that hellacious wind.