Friday, May 27, 2011

Wednesday-night XC race report

Yesterday was the second race of the Wednesday-Night XC Race Series. This week, they used the 24-hour course in its entirety. It looked like rain showers were a possibility, so I brought a wool base layer, a wool sweater, wind pants and a jacket.

Before the race, one of the owners of Two Wheel Transit took me aside and gave me some performance-enhancing drugs. This is the high-grade stuff, he got it from Mexico somehow. No corn syrup, it's sweetened with actual SUGAR.

I rode out to Riverside in a very light rain which stopped before the race began. Upon arrival, the first order of business was to bust out the bug repellent... I've fixed flat tires while being eaten alive by mosquitos before, and once was enough. I'm taking precautions!

The race went pretty well. Like last week, there was a wonderful diversity of riders. Tactically, I made a couple goofs: after a good start, I went too hard, then got gapped and couldn't catch up. The video clip below gives a blow-by-blow account if you're interested :) Oh, and for the second week in a row, my tubeless wunder-tires seem to have "burped" (momentarily lost their seal at the rim, and lost a bunch of air pressure), but by the time that happened, the leaders were over a minute up on me, so it made no practical difference in the end.

After the race, I hung out and swapped race stories with other riders over a root beer, watched some of the random prize giveaways (that's right, anyone can win prizes regardless of their place), then installed my lights and headed home to edit video from the Contour HD1080.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

24 Hour Team - Two Wheel Transit - Riders 3 - 6

Daniel Weber is a mt-biking miracle. In July 2006, he was hit by a car while on a training ride. The impact with the pavement shattered his L2 vertebra. The first orthopedic surgeon he saw in the hospital told him he would probably never work again, or lift up his little boy, and certainly never ride. 

His primary care physician, Dan Dionne, called in the big guns. Surgeon John Shuster had a very different prognosis. He would do a one-above-one-below fusion, a painful surgery and recovery, but one that offered much better and quicker results. Daniel's wife, Kyrsten, asked how soon he could get back on a bike. Three to four months was the answer.

After a very painful, difficult 3 months - and true to the doc's prognosis - Daniel was back on his bike. Dr. Shuster agreed that exercise would be vital to Daniel's recovery. At 5 month, even the surgeon was amazed that Daniel's fusion was complete. The bone had grown in much more quickly than anticipated. Daniel and Kyrsten knew that it was a combination of a good doc, a strong patient, and LOTS of prayer.

At 6 months, Daniel went back to work full time. Less than a year after the accident, Daniel on his bike for the 24 Hour Mt-bike Race, wearing one of his previous champion's jerseys. This year, 2011, is his fourth race since the accident. And he's turning in faster lap times than ever.  We are pleased to have Daniel as part of our 

team this year.

Dan Garrett - The other Dan on our Team is Dan Garrett.  He is a wicked-fast rider who will also be our runner for the LeMans start format.  He is a regular fixture at the 24 Hour Race as well as other off-road races in the area. Dan is part owner of Inland Elevator and a quiet and easy-going guy despite his cannibalistic tenancies on the mountain bike.  When asked for some biographical information he replied with "it really is not all that interesting"  Here is his submission for the blog.

It's my wife's fault I am now a bike addict. I was born 38 years ago in Spokane, grew up in Alaska, and moved to Metaline Falls at the start of high school. Graduated in 1991 and joined the Navy after a short attempt to go to college. After 4 years in the Navy I returned to Spokane, and started working on elevators 

During this time I got lucky and convinced a reluctant Rheanne to marry me. We have 3 girls: Amanda 17, Haiden 8, and Aidah 6. After the many, many years of no sleep and endless diapers, Rheanne decided to build up an old mountain bike she had and get back into riding. She had mostly given up on ever riding with me as I couldn't fathom why you would ever pedal a bike when they had been coming with motors in them for years.  One day she came home with a used rock hopper I think, and for some reason I ended up on the thing riding up some hill on an old fire road with her and some other people. I am not sure what happened, maybe it was heat stroke, but I enjoyed it! Then a buddy of mine from church, Dan Weber,  told me about Wednesday night races, which I tried out. Came in last, but had fun anyway. 

Then I tried cyclocross. Never in my life had I experienced such flat out physical exertion combined with endorphin overdose. There were great people to be around, my kids were welcome, and the family atmosphere with racing was awesome. Worst day of the year is the last day of cross.  I think I bought 5 bikes over the next two years and sold all but one of my motorcycles. And its for sale, (2002 Honda 919, $2750) so I can buy a good wheelset and a crankset.  I quit my job with Thyssen Krupp elevator last September to start Inland Elevator, Spokane's only independent elevator company,  with my two brothers. Just a weird bit of trivia: the three of us have nurses for wives, which is very convenient. As a result of my recent career redirect I am less stressed, a lot happier, and enjoying life more. Which includes lots of saddle time. Thanks to  Two Wheel Transit for letting me ride on the team.

Alec Forshag - Alec is a junior at G Prep and this is his second time racing in the 24 Hour Race.  He is typically a sprinter in track and field and used to his races being done between 11 and 23 seconds.  That will just about get him out of the start area and the rest will be determination and will.  He is riding a blue Gary Fisher Cobia 29" that he has had for a few years.  Even at 15 he researched bikes and determined the 29" wheels provided the most benefit to riders and racers alike.  

Bringing up the rear of the team is Geoff Forshag of Two Wheel Transit.  Also riding a Fisher 29" bike called the Superfly.  Geoff is happy to be riding with this group and appreciates all the work that goes into training and racing by his team mates.

That is the team!  We will see you at the race! 

Like a moth to the flame. A race report.

Halfway between the break and the field, the only thing going through my mind was, “this is not a good idea. Maybe I’ll get a flat.”

This past Sunday was the second race in SRV’s Inland Road Race Series, held in Post Falls. While it was dubbed a criterium, it was really more of a circuit race with a handful of wide, sweeping corners. For some reason, the night before the race I thought it would be a good idea to armor up and pin on a number. At dinner the night before my 6 year old daughter’s response was, “You’re racing? Well don’t take a pill like those other guys you used to race with a long time ago.” Funny, and probably a good story for another time.

So anyway, like I said to Vertical Earth’s Mark Konokey on the start line, a rest block will often bring you to a peak in fitness. In my case I hoped that the fact that I have about 20 days of riding in this year meant I’d be well rested and snappy for the race. Sadly, neither of these things were true.

Instead, here’s a semi baked, stream-of-consciousness version of the race.

· Wow. Mark is attacking from the gun. No way I’m going with him.

· It’s good to be near the front. This doesn’t seem too bad.

· I like going around corners. Unfortunately that guy in front of me clearly doesn’t. Stay away from him.

· I hate that sound! Two guys got tangled up. Yep, there’s the squirrely one that was in front me earlier in the race.

· Try bridging. This is horrible. There’s nothing worse than going hard when I don’t have fitness. It feels harsh and sucky. I'm a bad person and eat too many bagels. And peanut butter. Here comes the pack. Time to sit in.

· Attack, chase, catch, repeat. How exciting.

· Now that’s a good move. If you’re going to attack, hit the front going fast so no one wants to respond. Nicely done, Travis.

· Poor guy. They’re keeping him close and letting him dangle.

· Back together. Speed is up and down.

· Too slow. Take a turn. Man this sucks.

· Two laps to go. What are the teams with lots of riders doing? Why aren’t they working together or even talking? Put your guys on the front and peg it.

· It’s a field sprint for sure. One lap to go.

· That’s the wheel I want. Is this squirrely guy seriously going to fight me for it? Not worth it.

· I feel like hell. Two corners to go.

· Oh crap, there he goes. Should have fought for the wheel.

· Here we go. Opening up. There’s the gap. Go around. Close it.

· Patience.

· 200 to go. Full gas.

· How come I’m standing up and sprinting, but not going any faster?

· Finish line. Throw the bike.

· Got them. 5th place. How in the world did that happen?

· Gazooks. I feel like crap.

So there it is. 3rd place in my category and 5th overall. The race felt horrible. And great. And slow. And fast. That’ s racing.

If you haven’t been out to a race this year you should really try. If you can keep up with the slower guys on the Morning Ride, you can keep up in the races. Trust me on this. And I can guarantee you’ll learn something about yourself, have a fun time, and if you do more than a couple will find a new gear on your bike.

A hat tip to SRV and Forza Veloce for putting on a fun race. I can’t tell you how nice it was to get up, go to a race, bury myself and get home in time for lunch. Nice.

Here’s to a new race season.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Belle of the Ball

The setup at the Riverside State Park Military Airstrip.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work at the Trek Factory Bike Demo on Friday and Saturday this last week.  There were a lot of folks who came by to say hi and try-out some of the Trek road and mountain bikes that were available.  Some were just riding by and saw the set-up and came over to check it out.  Most people got to compare several bikes and all came back with smiles.  It was great of Rider 1 and Rider 3 of Team Two Wheel to swing by for awhile.  I even got to give both Trek reps a tour of the 24 hour course after we shut-down Friday night.

I had to control my hillbilly tendencies and not obsess too much about the custom Trek Truck

The most interesting thing from our standpoint was which bikes were getting the most ride time and the feedback on each from the customers.  If the event were a ball I can say which dance cards would have been full - yup the 29" mountain bikes were out the entire time.  People wanted to ride the Rumblefish, HiFi, Superfly and Superfly 100 and the vast majority came back with very favorable impressions.

One guy came back and said, "wow I thought all the 29" wheel stuff was hype, but it is not."  Another, more mature rider commented on how at first he was picking lines through the rough-stuff and how quickly he adjusted to the bigger wheels and plowed over obstacles.  The same rider even offered that he was faster over most sections according to his GPS data.

All of these comments were validating independent reviews and information provided by Trek on the 29" bikes.  We also discussed a lot of the features of the big wheels in Mythbusters, Investigate 29-Inch Wheels a few weeks back.

So there you have it - the 29" bikes generated the most interest and rider comments which is what a Demo Day is all about - let people learn for themselves by first hand experience.

No promises, but we are already trying to pin the demo guy around for next year.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

24 Hour Team - Two Wheel Transit

With the 24 hour race just less than a week away, we thought it would be a good idea to review some of the team members riding for this team  Some are very fast and will be averaged-out by the not-so-fast.   We will leave it to you to decide which category is assigned to each.

The current roster includes:

Tom McFadden
Dan Garrett
Dan Webber
Alec Forshag
Geoff Forshag
Jeremy Koziol

Let's work in from the ends.  Tom you have met early in the blog, but his story bears repeating.  The 2nd of our Ambassador team mates, meaning that this rider will fly the flag of another team for road racing, but will mountain bike race (mostly) for Team Two Wheel, is Two Wheel Transit employee Tom McFadden. You can be a customer of Two Wheel Transit for years and not necessarily know for sure that "Tom" exists, because he is referred to in the shop with great regularity, but he is in the basement working away on bikes from morning to nigh, with only a rare daylight appearance to grab a part upstairs to prove that he really exists. But trust me, Tom does exist. I know because I have not only entered the underground lair, but I have been on rides with Tom; most memorably, a daylight tour of the Midnight Century Course duly memorialized here: Midnight-Century-Daylight-Version.

So, as promised, I asked Tom the same questions I asked everyone on the team. Here are his answers.

Personal Biographical Information - I grew up in Alaska, came to Spokane as a kid, attended high school at Gonzaga Prep with an affinity for sciences, then went on to WSU to study Chemical Engineering and worked at Al's Schwinn in the summers. In 2001 I made a 5-year career change to being an all-purpose Information Technology guy, earned three Microsoft MVP awards for my efforts in helping others in the online community at a large computer forum, then went back to being a bike mechanic. So far I've worked at Al's Schwinn (out of biz), Two Wheel Transit (fired on my first trip through), Garland Cycle (out of biz), Columbia Cycle (out of biz, am I the kiss of death or what?), Wheelsport South, and now back to Two Wheel Transit. Oh, and I'm a 41-year-old hermit antisocial type :)

Personal preferences:
Cats --x----------------------------- Dogs
Road --------------------x---------- XC mountain
Dowhhill --------------------------x XC
Beer -------------------------------x Chocolate milk
Mac --------------------------------x Windows
TV ----------------------------------x Internet
Car ---------------------------------x Car-free
Wal-mart -------------------------x Fred Meyer

Cycling bio: I liked to ride as a kid, and commuted to grade school and usually to high school by bike. Since G-Prep was across the city from us, I also got very accustomed to riding in traffic on arterials, and dealing with issues like visibility. When I was at WSU, I sometimes would ride home for the weekend, then ride back Sunday night, and got very comfortable riding on the highway with big trucks. By this point I was already an irreversible fan of helmet mirrors too (Editor's note - Rumor is that he won a State Road Race Championship with a helmet mirror affixed).

In the '90s I began to ride mountain bikes, mostly on the South Hill bluff, and entered my first bike race at 49° North as a Beginner-class racer on a full-rigid bike. I was intimidated by the nicer bikes the other guys had, but easily got the holeshot at the first bottleneck and went on to win by nearly 7 minutes. Encouraged by that, I raced Sport class at a NORBA National at Mt. Spokane, but a confused course marshal mistakenly told me I'd gone off-course (I hadn't), so I ended up 3rd of the riders who'd actually gone the right way, instead of the Beginner-class route. I did a few more XC races but then had a hiatus of many years.

In 2009, I did some of the Twilight Series road races, which were my first road races. I moved to the B pack after the first race, then the A's after a few more. Tactically I had no savvy at all, and never felt that competitive in the A's... this is what I like about XC mountain-bike racing, there's no need for savvy, it's just one big VO2-max test :) Anyway, I was talked into racing in the 2009 Masters state RR championship by my SRV comrades, and we fielded five riders just in my pack, so when Royce and I joined Paul (aka Rider Two) for this epic 3-man 25-mile breakaway, we had three teammates to block for us, and you know how that all went down, but here's my writeup:

Also in 2009, I did four of the Wednesday-night XC races in Riverside, which was super-fun. I was pretty upset when it sounded like they weren't going to do them for 2010, but they did, and I went to all six including two back-to-back days in the mud. I raced the non-Masters age group to make it more challenging, and only took one 1st place on a day when Kevin Bradford-Parish, Mike Gaertner and Eric Anderson all didn't show up, but ended up winning the series just by high places every week.

Oh, and in 2009 I did the Midnight Century and it was a huge adrenaline rush. I trained for it in 2010 and was gunning for low 5-hour range, but as you know, I ended up piloting a group of three and had to hold the pace down a bit in the "middle 50" of the route.

For 2011, I'm looking forward to the Wednesday-night series again, where I plan to fly the Two Wheel Transit colors. I'm also going to do the Midnight Century again, as the unofficial Distributor Of The Smiley-Faces, and will be going solo this time, although anyone's welcome to as much draft as they want :)

Favorite Rides, etc. - In terms of a ride I could do routinely, I like the Hangman Loop (road) and the 24-hour course (off-road). For more "epic-rated" rides I'd say round-trip to the top of Mt. Spokane (road) and the Midnight Century route (mixed).

Other favorites - Doing the 24-hour race with the North Division Bike Shop team, who three-peated in the 10-person corporate division last year.

-I like night mountain riding as much as daytime.

-I tentatively plan to instigate a weekly XC ride oriented towards training

And lastly, on nicknames, here is the word from TM - As for a name/alias, I've used the online nickname mechBgon for nearly everything, so that should suffice for this too. No one calls me that in real life, although we do sometimes critique visibility equipment (lights, reflectors) in terms of whether they're "mechBgon-approved".

We will have to find out another time just what mechBgon means, because it sounds suspiciously like a Transformers name to me, which would explain a few things about Tom. In any case, we are glad to have him aboard the team and look forward to seeing him at the start and finish lines of a few mountain bike races (no, I'm not close enough to see him anywhere else).

Jeremy Koziol 

Personal bio information: My name is Jeremy Koziol, a home-grown local boy who is a teacher by trade, but a triathlete, runner, and cyclist at heart.

Cycling bio information: I got into cycling through triathlon and realized that I really like to cycle, race, and ride in groups. I started road racing last year (2010) in the Twilight series late into the season and loved it. Even after taking a pretty good top-ten sprint-finish crash that resulted in a bent wheel, injured pride, and a dead last walk across the finish, I still love it and I look forward to a long career of cycling in Spokane, WA.

My favorite local ride: Geeze, so many to choose from from around here, especially on the South Hill/Palouse area. Believe it or not, I really like the ride from my South Hill apartment to the Centennial trail out to State Line (where there is that old-fashioned hand water pump). A quick fill up there and I am good to head home, or if I feel really epic, ride out to CdA and do the Ironman CdA course that heads to Hayden Lake, ID. 3-6hr ride depending on my epicicity.

Nicknames: Ones that I can mention include J-Kozy and J-Baby (being the baby brother in the Team Felt Koziol Brothers riding team; yes, we ride Felts :o) (Editor Note - JK rode the course for the first time in flip-flop sandals and seems to be in no particular distress.)

There you have it - two of the riders who will be dicing it out this weekend

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ride of Silence - Post-Ride Post

I and about 100 of my cycling pals met downtown during Bike Week for the Ride of Silence. The idea is that around the country communities all over have a Ride of Silence, during which riders are silent and respectful of traffic laws, to honor the cyclists who have died in bike/car accidents and to draw the attention of motorists to our plight as moving targets for their steel death machines.

The Ride of Silence was organized by Jeanna Hofmeister with the support of the Spokane Regional Convention and Visitor's Bureau. It is organized in conjunction with Bike Spokane or Spokane Bikes or Bikes for Spokane People or The Peoples Front of Spokane Bikes or whatever Bike to Work Spokane is now called. It brought out many of Spokane's highest profile wheelsters including Woman of 24/7 Social Media Barb Chamberlain, Bike Event Organizer to the Stars Bill Bender and Resident Two Wheel Transit Bon Vivant Tomas Lynch. Seeing the three of them at one bike event is like some extraordinary extraterrestrial alignment of the planets in the heavens (insert your own Stephen Hawking joke here). Or actually, now that I think about it, having them all at one bike event is like another celestial occurrence - the sun coming up, because upon further reflection, they are the three people most likely to show up to support a bike event in the City of Spokane. In any case, it was good to see them.

And speaking of showing up for a bike event, a lot of others did too. I would hazard a guess, however, that almost none of the people who showed up for this group ride had ever done a group ride before. There are some indications of that. For instance, one guy showed up on a three-wheeled recumbent and the equipment alone indicates that he had no friends (or dates) so he wouldn't have had the opportunity to ride in a group. Although I have to confess it does make me want to see a pack race of recumbent bikes. The problem being that recumbent riders would all assume it was a government conspiracy to be invited to one place at one time and none of them would appear. Oh well.

Another indication of the lack of pack riding was the proclivity for hockey stops at the numerous traffic lights. For the uninitiated, a hockey stop is done when the rider brakes and slows in a straight line and then just before coming to a complete stop, you veer to the left or right as you put your foot down. Ideally you want to veer to about a 45 degree angle so that you cut-off the rider next to you or behind you eyeing that free space that previously existed in the lane next to you. Quite effective and I saw it repeated numerous times by different riders.

On the other hand, I don't want to make it sound like I am complaining. I loved this ride. First of all, it was silent, which meant that no one interrupted my stories or tried to top them, so that was good. Also, since there a self-imposed speed limit of 12 mph (that is the widely accepted speed at which you are honoring the deceased), I was able to hang with the group on the uphill sections and frankly, I was able to move through the group with ease, so that I could have taken every prime and easily won the ride on an uncontested breakaway. I'm looking for more rides like that.

The other thing I noticed, however, is that there was a distinct lack of lycra in this crowd. One prominent individual about town and local politics showed up wearing a suit. There was a lot of wool present and more reflective green material than I have ever seen gathered in one place. I was, of course, sporting my Two Wheel Transit jersey and in padded lycra shorts, as I think this is eminently sensible for riding a bike, but when I observed to a fellow rider afterward that I was the only person there not wearing underwear, this was taken as an odd observation. In most of my group rides, it would be considered very odd to show up wearing underwear, so clearly I was out of step with my comrades in Silence.

And, I suppose, it is appropriate to consider my fellow travelers as comrades, because there is a contingent in Spokane that still considers bikes and bike riders some sort of communist plot to destroy all that is good about America. Funny really, when the bike riders think that we are a symbol of all that is good about America, but there you have it.

Final analysis - If you want to ride your bike and also wear underwear, grow facial hair without regard to gender, easily win a bunch non-sprint and simultaneously draw attention to the real and significant danger of drivers failing to pay attention to cyclists on the road - then this group ride is for you. If, on the other hand, you want to ride your bike and also are used to shaving both your face and legs, struggle to keep up with people who pretended to be friends at the start of the ride, and occasionally "test your legs" with a race number attached, then honestly this ride is also for you, because this is an area where we should all stand together.

Even the recumbents, I guess.
Rider Three

Blog Correction - It has come to my attention that Tomas Lynch was incorrectly identified as the Resident Two Wheel Transit Bon Vivant. In fact, he is the Resident Two Wheel Transit Raconteur. My apologies.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Trek Factory Demo Days May 20 & 21

Just a reminder that the Trek Factory Demo will be in town Friday, May 20 and Saturday, May 21.  The demo will run from 10-2 each day.  This is a chance to ride the latest technology in both mountain and road bikes from Trek.  Trek will also be distributing $100 - Off Coupons toward the purchase of select models.

The venue for the event is the Military Airstrip at Riverside State Park.  If the location sounds familiar, it is the start/finish location for the 24 Hour Round the Clock Mountain Bike Race.  Here are the directions for getting there:

Follow Hwy 291 (Nine Mile Road) to 7 Mile Turn-off,  Turn left on 7 Mile road and proceed across 7 mile bridge and take 1st left.  Take right at first gravel road and airstrip on on the left.

We hope to see you there.  Please forward this information to a friend or two as well.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Wednesday-night XC race series has begun, and I got to the first race yesterday. I forgot to bring a memory card for my digital camera, so I can't show you the turnout, but it looked like a record. The course was the inner loop of the 24-hour course, modified at the end so we'd come through the Start/Finish area the same direction we started (upriver).

There's a race for everyone here, from novices and casual racers to bleeding-edge hardcore atheletes. A good contingent of the latter showed up, and had a great race at the front. I sat in 3rd for a while, then ended up sliding back to 6th for the second half of the race. I would've liked to at least be able to contest 5th place, but I couldn't hang. Maybe next time☺

Here's some video from the race:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ride of Silence - Today at 6 pm

Spokane cyclists will be riding in silence this Wednesday evening. The Ride of Silence, which is held in cities across the world to honor those who have been injured or killed while cycling on public roads, occurs every year on the third Wednesday in May.

Participants are asked to ride no faster than 12 mph and remain silent during the ride. The 3.4 mile ride begins at 6pm at the corner of Riverside and Howard. With no sponsors or registration fees, organizers hope people will be encouraged to come out and support their message of sharing public roadways.

For more information, contact Jeanna Hofmeister, 509-742-9372 or You can also visit

The Surly Pugsley is a Go Anywhere Bike

4 inch wide tires with 10 PSI sounds more like a tractor than a bike.

When we first heard about the Surly Pugsley we only viewed it in terms of a winter bike for riding on snowy trails and packed powder.  There are a couple of local evangelists who kept sending us photos of them doing just that on their fat-tire bikes.  The more we researched and came to love this fat boy, the more we realized it is a capable steed just about anywhere you have to get off and walk a normal bike.

We were planning a review of all the ways you could have fun on this bike but an Edmonton resident heard we had one in stock and promptly bought it.  Fortunately, the folks at Bike Radar had already written a very thorough review.

They even went as far as calling it a "Super Bike". From the limited testing we were able to perform, we think they have a lot of potential.  They are just plain fun to ride and inspire confidence at every turn.  We are sure it is just a matter of time before a local farmer figures a way to attach implements behind a Pugsley after one-too-many diesel purchases over $4 a gallon.  Just think, it could bring a whole new dimension to Bike To Work Week.

Enjoy the review.  Bike Radar Review

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


This is a follow-up to "The Racer Wakes at Dawn".  No, I'm not going to write in the same "The Doors meets Dr. Suess without the acid" style of writing. Once is enough for the writer and the reader, I think.

This post is about stage 2 of Frozen Flatlands. To refresh your memory I finished 3rd in the time Trial (TT).  The second stage was on the same day three hours after the TT.  It was only a 25 mile road race(RR) but with the 20-25mph wind I knew I had to be up front after the 1/3 of the race. I knew who was ahead of me and below me in the points after the TT. I was set.

After the TT I drove straight home to exchange my bikes and get a dry kit for the RR.  My wife needed the car for the afternoon so she drove me out to the race. I planned on riding the 15 miles home after the race to spin out the gams.  We arrived at the start and I was feeling relatively relaxed.  She and I sat in the car chatting about things not related to cycling as I began to put on my kit. 

As I started pull my things out of my bag and lay them out on the dashboard like I usually do when I noticed I had no shorts. No F'N shorts. I was immediately anaerobic. "I forgot my shorts!" I thought I said in a normal alerted tone.  My wife covered her ears apparently from my overly excited and downright filthy expletives that followed my statement.

"Wow, tone it down please. You sound like a shrieking eel." she said. "Well, do you understand what this means.  I can't roll up to the start with my twig and berries hangin' out.  There are children here.  I can't race. Piss."

"Settle down. You're not thinking clearly. First, the children aren't the only ones that would scarred by the sight of your undercarriage. I'm married to you remember. I know the potential psychological damage that.. those.. know, can cause by just a glance. Secondly, you know a lot of people here. Surely someone has a spare pair of shorts you can use."

She was right. I had ten minutes before the start to find a pair of shorts.
"Stop panicking," I told myself. "Just take a deep breath and look for a pair of clean or preferably never been wore shorts you can borrow."

I stepped out of our car, shut the door and start to walk aimlessly through the parking lot mumbling to myself "I need shorts.  I need clean shorts." Just then Michael Emde rode by and said with his Austrian accent, "Aren't you racing?"  He obviously noticed me in street clothes with tears streaming down my face and mumbling to myself.
"I was but I forgot my shorts and I don't have time to go...."

"I have a whole bunch of them in SUV - all brand new too. Here are the keys. All the shorts are in........." He had me at clean shorts. I didn't listen to another word he said. I was already skipping to his vehicle before he was done talking to me. I opened the back hatch and started to dig through the cornucopia of bags and race gear jammed in the back of his SUV. 

"Holy dirty chamois, who in the world brings this much stuff to a race?" I thought. "Oh, maybe someone who is prepared to help out morons like me that forget to bring something to a race." I stopped judging and began to panic when I could find everything but shorts.  Finally, after five bags and five strokes later I found one pair of shorts sandwiched between two bags and grabbed them.  I ran to the start line to hand to keys back to Michael and sprinted to my car to get dressed.

"So I told you you could find someone with a spare pair of shorts." my wife pointed out.
"You were right." I said, knowing that most people like to be acknowledged for giving good advice.  I started to get undressed when I noticed that the bib shorts had knots tied on the shoulder straps and the chamois smelt of chamois cream. They weren't new and most likely not clean either. I had no choice other than put them on and not think of the numerous possibilities of how they got soiled. 

Then was time to hesitate, I needed to put them on and fast. I wiggled and squirmed to get them on and thinking to myself, "Crap these are tight.". I noticed the tag in the shorts said medium as I fought to get them on like women do with their "skinny" jeans. Size medium would not be a problem if I normally wore mediums but I wear large and always large and on rare occasions extra large depending on the manufacturer. 

After I was able to tuck in my body and extra skin I have lately developed from 48 years on this planet, I looked down at the shorts, which didn't even come past mid-thigh and exclaimed out loud to my wife, "S*#t, I look like Daniel Craig when he came out of the water in "Casino Royale".   A hearty laughter poured from her side of the car punctuated by uncontrolled snorts.

"Dan....Daniel......Craig....ha, ha, mean, Rowen Atkins in 'Johnny English'. At least that is what I see from my view point.....ha,ha."  "Wow, that's a burst of confidence for me." I retorted. "Well, really, Daniel Craig."
"Last call for 40+ Masters. Two minutes to start." A voice barked through a bull horn.

I quickly installed my socks, Sidi shoes, and Giro helmet and then straddled my bike.  Sprinting to the start line, I looked back at the car to wave goodbye to my wife, only to find her pointing at me with one hand and wiping the tears of laughter with the other.  She seemed to be murmuring Daniel Craig at the same time while shaking her head.  I approached the line just in time to hear the official go through the routine of hazards and rules they must regurgitate before the start of every race.  

Halfway through the mandatory verbal USA Cycling throw-up, I felt pressure in my bladder.  The double espresso at The Scoop had stimulated my kidneys to process the liter of Powerade and 40 oz of water I had between the TT and at that very moment. I also believe that the extra tight shorts might have been contributing to this sudden sensation.

We rolled-out and headed towards a small community called Tyler.  The tailwind made it easy to cruise around 27 mph without effort. A few ambitious souls made futile attempts to break-away but to no avail.  Nine miles had passed with no major activity except the increasing size of my bladder. When we reached Tyler we crossed the freeway over-pass and turned right into the wind. 

The speed of the pack slowed substantially. At this speed I knew I would wet myself before the finish. I prayed to the cycling gods for sacrificial lambs to go up front to pick up the pace. My prayers were answered and three different teams sent up their henchmen to do the dirty task of putting pressure on the pack. This went on for most of the race until the last 5 miles of the race. 

By this point my concentration was on bladder control rather than a good result. I tried standing, sitting toward the back of the saddle, big gears, spinning, anything to relieve the discomfort that had been building since the start of the race - nothing was working.  Then someone with the strength of Thor threw down the gantlet. The pack began to disintegrate. Everyone was pinned against the center line fighting to find a draft. I forgot about bladder failure, and dug in to make sure no one separated me from the hope of a good finish. 

I noticed the guy in front of me arching his back and looking between his knees. I knew he was just seconds from cracking so I sprinted around him and forced him to give me his spot in the line. Just as I assumed my position in the line of pain, the rider two positions ahead of me began to go through the same ritualistic suffering motion. Again, I sprinted around two guys and forced my way into the sliver of draft provided by the rider in front of me. This went on for the next 3 miles.

I saw the 1k sign in the distance and thought it would be wise to look back behind me to take inventory.  There were 4 in front of me and 4 behind me. 

There was nothing but shattered dreams of victory dotting the ribbon of road behind us.  I think we all knew this was the final selection and the speed began to drop.  Without the constant struggle for position not weighing on my mind anymore, my bladder started to talk trash in the worse way. At 800 meters the speed jumped up and I got out of my saddle to put pressure on the pedals along with a greater sensation of needing to pee.  I quickly sat down to stop from watering-down the borrowed shorts. What would I say to Michael at the end of the race? "Hey, thanks for bailing me out with the shorts and here they are.  Oh, yeah, sorry for the urine."  I didn't think so. 

I choose to sprint it out in the saddle for it seemed to provide the most bladder control though the pressure was still quite strong. I  managed to cross the line in 5th with dry shorts and a full tank of urine. I didn't slow down when I finished. I just kept riding to the nearest toilet to relive myself.  And relieve myself I did, to what maybe a personal record for my longest pee in my life.

I think I'll double check the bag for shorts next time.

Rider Two

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sneak Peek at Who is Running the Trek Factory Demo May 20 - 21

Remember the Trek Factory Demo is this Friday and Saturday from 10 - 2 each day at the Riverside State Park Military Airstrip.  There will be the latest Trek mountain bike and carbon road bike technology available to ride in this great venue.  Click here for directions

From Trek will be Ric Abram and Drew Axt.  Ric is the rep for Washington State and Drew handles the demos for the region.  Here is more information on Drew.

Drew Axt

Newton, Iowa
Favorite Place to Ride?
Swoopy river trails, long climbs that culminate in epic descents, and any stretch of pavement that the sun is shining on.
Favorite bikes to ride?
I consider myself a 29er evangelist and love riding my Superfly hardtail and the HiFi Pro. When I'm pounding the pavement, the 6 Series Madone is my steed of choice.
Essential grooves?
Cut Copy, Rise Against, My Morning Jacket, Classic Country, RAC, Pretty Lights, The Hood Internet, Third Wave Ska and Punk.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Kickoff Breakfast at Riverfront Park Tomorrow at 7am

  • If you a planning on attending the Kickoff Breakfast tomorrow - here is the pertinent info.
  • Monday May 16 (7am): Bike to Work Week Kickoff Breakfast– Riverfront Park. Meet UnitedHealthcare pro cyclist Morgan Schmitt and enjoy pancakes from Mountain Gear and Roasthouse Coffee.  MUST register at RSVP on your login page for the Kickoff Breakfast and Wrap-Up Party.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bike to Work Week Starts Tomorrow

We hope that everyone has some plans for biking to school or work this week.  True to form, the weather is predicted to cause some challenges this week but we know everyone is ready after reading Are You Ready? last month.  

If you are a new commuter and need a ride-in buddy give us a call at 747-2231 and we will try to pair you with an experienced commuter in your area.  If you are an experienced commuter, give us a call at the same number to be placed on a list as last minute ride buddies.  

Above all, have fun and ride safely.  Here is a partial list of all that is going-on.  Check-in with for up to date info.

  • Monday May 16 (7am): Bike to Work Week Kickoff Breakfast– Riverfront Park. Meet UnitedHealthcare pro cyclist Morgan Schmitt and enjoy pancakes from Mountain Gear and Roasthouse Coffee.  MUST register at RSVP on your login page for the Kickoff Breakfast and Wrap-Up Party.
  • Monday May 16 (7am): Spokane Valley Ride to the Kickoff. Info on Eventbriteand route map on MapMyRide
  • Monday May 16 – Friday May 18 (6:30-9am): Energizer Station every morning all week at Roasthouse Coffee.
  • Tuesday May 17 (6:30-9am): Valley Energizer Station at Spokane Valley Medical Center.
  • Wednesday May 18 (7-9am): Morning Energizer Stations map at
  • Wednesday May 18 (6pm): Ride of Silence in downtown Spokane.
  • Thursday May 19 (6:30-9am): Valley Energizer Station at Wheel Sport East.
  • Friday May 20 (6:30-9am): Valley Energizer Station at Spokane Valley City Hall.
  • Friday May 20 (4:30 – 6pm): Bike to Work Week Wrap-Up Party! Hosted by Steam Plant Grill/Coeur d’Alene Brewing. MUST RSVP in your log-in info at
  • Spokane Valley Ride to the Wrap-up (4pm): Eventbrite info. Same route as Monday.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Bike to Work Commute - The Road Less Traveled

May is of course Bike to Work Month and there have been several kick-off events and challenges to celebrate locally.  What has not kicked-off has been the weather - it has not been conducive to bike commuting to say the least.  Combine that with various commitments and obligations and I have bike commuted to work a whopping 0 times in May.    I did use my bike on Cinco de Mayo to go to coffee, but that has been the extent of my bike as transport activities.

That all changed as today broke clear and relatively warm.  Though not my first bike commute of the year, it was one of the best in terms of fun and joy.  Total mileage for the round-trip is 23 and almost an equal mix of road and dirt.  This requires a trusty steed that is comfortable on both - a Gary Fisher Superfly with 29" wheels.  If I could only have one bike, this would be it.

The first part of the commute is rural with pretty light traffic.

It is nice to get warmed up climbing Baltimore to Old Palouse Highway and to 57th Ave. for a total of about 4 miles.  Then it is bike lane all the way down 57th to Hatch Road.

The current construction at the top of Hatch Road required a little creative off-road riding to circumnavigate.  It looks like it will really improve the ride and safety of the transition from Hatch to 57th when complete.  A welcome prospect for anyone who regularly rides this area.

Just after the construction, I had to cross the road to reach the secret entrance to the bluff trails.

Here is where the fun part of the commute begins - about 5 miles of High Drive Bluff Trails that offer some fast, twisty and scenic off-pavement riding.

The middle trail provides the most variety with both wooded and exposed areas.

The areas with full sun exposure are covered with flowering Eastern Washington balsamroots 
It is tough to keep your eyes on the trail when tempted by some of the scenic views.  I have several battle scares to prove it.  One thing you do not want to do is carry too much speed into some of the blind corners.  Not only could there be another cyclist or pedestrian, but many have off-camber slopes that can lead to unintended aerial launches.  

Finally the trail leads to a bend and climb where the view includes part of downtown, the west plains, and the far northwest.  Then you know it is just a few more minutes to downtown.

Today, I stopped the dirt segment of the commute at the park at 14th Avenue since I find the remainder of the trail a bit of a pain and not very inspiring.  Also, by cutting back to pavement it is a quick few blocks of easy pedaling and downhill riding to Two Wheel Transit World Headquarters on 1st Ave.  It is nice to have a few minutes to cool down before hitting the shop since the bathing facilities are somewhat limited.

The ride home is a the exact opposite with the exception that I sometimes ride down Hatch to Hangman Valley Road for some variety.  I feel incredibly blessed to have such an interesting commute - as if bike commuting is not fun already, this almost seems illegal.  If that is the case, I plan on breaking the law again this week.

See you on the trail and at the Bike to Work Week Kick-off Breakfast on May 16 in Riverfront Park.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Lost Art of Tire Rubbing

Each sport has its history and traditions - with over 100 years of history, cycling certainly has its share.

After riding with a lot of different people in various groups over the last 6 years, it finally dawned on me that no one rubs their road bike tires anymore.  If you have no idea to what I am referring, then you are probably under the age of 40 or began riding less than 10 years ago.  Rubbing one's tire is not the behavior of a deranged cyclist who has a fetish for his bike tires, but a habit born out of necessity in cycling years past.

When I started riding with serious riders back in the 1980s I would see everyone running a gloved hand across the surface of their tires on a regular basis - while still riding.  At first, I thought they were trying to keep their hands warm with friction until I realized that they were trying to avoid flat tires.  Each time there was a suspicion that the group had just ridden through broken glass on the road, you could hear gloves running over the front and then rear tire on each bike.  (Note that they were alway wearing gloves - do not attempt this without gloves) Light pressure was the key, just barely touching the tire surface was enough to dislodge the glass.

Then, like now, road bike tires are made to be very light while withstanding high pressure.  That meant thin casings and thin rubber due to limitations in the materials available during the period.  That also meant that glass had little between its sparkling sharp edges and the inner tube that held the air.  Cyclist learned that if they could knock the glass off of the tire surface before it could embed itself into the outer rubber then a flat could likely be avoided.  Also, gloves were made with real leather palms and mesh backs that left a cool suntan with a characteristic oval on the back of your hand. None of this synthetic stuff you see in gloves today.  The old gloves could easily withstand the friction of touching a moving tire.

I wanted to be cool like the other guys, so I started copying their rubbing behavior and proceeded to get my hand stuck between the spinning rear tire and the seat tube.  This served to lock my back wheel, produce a long skid and ended with me falling over in a dead stop with my right hand stuck behind my right leg.  Yep, cool as they come.  Apparently there was some technique required and where you place your hand in proximity to frame and wheel is important.

Later as Aramid fibers (think Kevlar) became less expensive and more available, they were incorporated under the tread in bike tires to increase their resistance to punctures.  Riders had fewer punctures and apparently the art (and necessity) of tire rubbing was no longer passed-on to beginning cyclists.  Being the Luddite that I am, old habits die hard and I still rub my tires after riding through glass though I do not get my hand caught anymore.  I really did not think about this ritual until I was riding with a friend last month and he asked me what I was doing - when the student is ready, the teacher appears - I could pass tradition to another rider.

He was kind and acted interested, but I could tell he did not share my enthusiasm for this behavior.  Maybe some day he will understand - until then he better keep a flat repair kit handy.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Rider Review - Trek 2.3 Road Bike

Trek 2.3 Rider Review

Despite having several years experience riding bikes I haven't gained much technical knowledge about them. I like how they feel. I like turning my legs in circles. I like going fast. I like swooping  through turns. I like to jump some curbs - it's that simple. Of all of the bikes I have ridden, the Trek 2.3 is the most enjoyable in all categories, except the jumping of curbs, which I avoid.

First thing great about this bike is that it is new. Bam - everything is smooth. Rolls nice. Shifts nice. Looks nice. Second thing I noticed right away when I rode it was its stiffness. My previous bike was an aluminum frame with carbon forks and carbon stays. I thought it was fantastic and full of springy life when I first rode it. However I have come to realize that compared to most bikes, it was like riding a wet noodle - especially in the handle bars. So much so that it is scary. I'm not sure why, but I have it on good authority that it might be because of a carbon steerer.

The Trek is stiff. The handlebars don't move when you pull on them. Instead the whole bike moves forward when you pull on them. I like it. The Trek frame is all aluminum with carbon forks. This time though there is  an aluminum steerer and it seem to make all the difference. I feel like the bike wants to go forward.

I also love how this bike turns for me. I suspect that it is partly because of a longer wheelbase since this bike is a 60cm  and I have always ridden on 58's.  This is just a guess though like I said I know little about frame geometry and the resulting ride, but it makes sense right? However you slice it I feel like I'm on rails when I corner. Taking turns on a stable glide.

The 2.3 has a full Shimano 105 gruppo (Italian for group) and the braking and shifting are great! Today's 105 is yesterday's Ultegra.

The one thing I wasn't sure about was the compact gearing. It has a 50x34 crankset instead of the 53x39 to which I was accustomed.  This set-up screamed hurky-jerky -spin- legs to me.  As it turns out I like spinning; it's my new thing and have been completely satisfied with the smaller chainrings. In fact I really haven't noticed them and when it is time to push the big gears the 50x11 is slightly faster gearing than a 53x12.

Finally, if all my previous bike were asses this would be the baddest of them.

Taylor Pilant

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I Found Spring Hiding Out in the Columbia Highlands

I was invited to join a group ride on Saturday from Okanogan to Nespelem and back.  Both NOAA and predicted sunshine and temperatures in the mid-60’s for that area of north central WA, so after Thursday’s snowfall, I could not get out of town fast enough.

I had to make a quick stop at Two Wheel Transit to pick up my bike.  My chain replacement turned into a chain AND rear cassette replacement.  I seem to have to buy a new cassette every year (much to Geoff’s glee) (Editor's note: I do not glee at premature cassette wear - PCW) and I DO get my chain checked regularly for wear.  And no, I am not a big gear grinder.  Bottom line is Campagnolo is not kidding when they say the life of their 10 speed chain is 1000 miles.  Tom, mechanic to the stars, had the Hampsten ready to roll and I was on my way west.

We headed out Saturday morning from downtown Okanogan, crossed the Okanogan River, and immediately began climbing into the hills to the east on Omak Lake Rd.  The route turns rural very quickly and winds through dry sagebrush rangeland with some scattered Ponderosas.  After about 3 miles the road tops out on a little ridge and you leave the trees behind and enter a region that looks like southwestern Montana –big blue sky, steep rocky hillsides and no structures or people.  And here is where we found spring.  The hills were green and starred with bright yellow bunches of Arrowleaf Balsamroot.  The bluish- green sagebrush leaves released a fresh, spicy scent as they warmed in the sun.  Omak Lake appeared several hundred feet below the road on the left, a long irregular shaped glacial furrow rimmed by white limestone.  Coming from Snowkane, this was almost sensory overload and so much the richer to be experienced on a bicycle.

The road flows along south for many lovely miles before bearing left to follow the Columbia River.  Here the road is called the Columbia River Rd.  It traces the north shore of the river rolling up and down rocky banks.  There are almost no cars out here and the drivers of the ones that do pass, usually roll down their windows and wave.  They are smiling, but you know they are thinking “what are those crazy people doing way the heck out here?”

About 5 miles before Nespelem, the road switchbacks for a couple of miles up the old banks of the river in the days before the Grand Coulee Dam.  One rider who knew the route (it was new to me) told me the climb was steep, but short.  Another told me it was not steep, but long.  It leaned more towards the not steep, but long variety of climb, but with very distracting views.  It was a good thing there was no traffic because I was weaving all over the road as I looked around.

The road topped out on a high plateau above the river and in a couple of miles, we were in metro Nespelem.  There is an option to take Highway 155 and make a loop back to Okanogan, but we opted to return the way we came for a round trip of 90 miles.  155 has more traffic (any road would have more traffic) and we were in a state of sun-soaked cycling bliss.  So after a stop for a snack and water, we headed back through spring’s hiding place to Okanogan where the temperature was 68 degrees.  It was about 52 and getting ready to pour in Spokane at that moment.  This made it even sweeter.

Miss Clairol