Sunday, February 28, 2010

Chilly Blossom TIme!

The Cascade Bicycle Club's annual Chilly Hilly Ride on Bainbridge Island might be the official opening of Cylcing Season in the Seattle area. The Seattle International Randonneurs had their Renton Spring Fever 100k Populaire today too, but I chose the Chilly Hilly.

I was eager for a spectacle, and that it was with from what I heard: over 6000 registrants, a new record. It was so tight on the roadways after the ferry dropped off our couple thousand or so that I felt like I needed the passing skills of speedskater Apolo Ohno to snake my way through.

It's called the Chilly Hilly because it's usually chilly in February (today was in the 50's I'm guessing and beautiful!), and because of the 2700 feet of climbing in 33 miles. It lived up to it's last name my knees can tell you.

Here's how it went:

Milling around in the ferry loading zone. See the Olympic Mountains in the distance?

Our boatload--there were several ferry loads full--from the gangway above.

Eager to disembark.

View from the ferry deck. See those Olympics again?

Here's a hill. Hard to tell from this pic, but I can honestly tell you: it is a hill.

Hill climbers. No shame in walking!

You tell me!

Preston pushes the Big Wheel. Very impressive!

My cleat came loose, and I couldn't unclip my shoe from the pedal so I had to take my foot from the shoe! The garrish orange thing is my socked foot.

Some of the many Islanders who sat on their front lawns to observe our cycling antics. Silly Chilly Geese!

The feet that got me up the hills. Wore my hot orange socks for good luck and good safety.
They must have worked! 

Keep it bloomin'!


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sputnik Hub Coming in for a Landing?!

Sputnik Hub as she sits today.

In a previous post about trying to take apart a flip-flop wheel for sew-up tires, I tell of my foolishly conjuring up a disaster hub. I called it my Sputnik hub, because after removing the nipples and the rim I couldn't remove the spokes! They were jammed in by the freewheel and fixed cog.

Above is a photo of our friend, Kian, holding the monster Sputnik hub I had conjured up. He and his sister got quite the giggle out of my absurd misfortune!

Goofy me, I'd had a hard time removing the freewheel and fixed cog, so I preceded with spoke removal without finishing that step.

Oops. That meant that once I'd removed the tire and rim, I no longer had any leverage for removing the freewheel and fixed cog. When I last left this story I was headed off to a local bike shop. That was about nine months ago.

The bike shop guy told me I was out of luck. He also told me he only worked there once per week, and if I hung around for a while the owner would be back soon. The owner, he said, was much more experienced.

But alas, the experienced owner said I should resolve myself to the fact that I had a very beautiful paperweight. Nothing to be done but accept the lesson learned. Grrrrrr.

So, I've been ruminating on this for some time, and last night while watching Apolo Anton Ohno win his final Olympic medal (I used to get my hair cut at his Dad's hairdressing shop!) in my basement bicycle lair I hit upon it! I brought out my VAR vintage axle vise (VAR is a venerated French bicycle and motorcycle tool maker), and clamped in Sputnik.

Venerable VAR #117, Axle Vise

With a chain whip and freewheel remover, I was able to get leverage on the fixed cog so I could remove the freewheel. Voilà!

The photo at the top of the post is where I stand today. I can imagine ways to remove the cog somewhat violently that will leave my hub intact now, but I'm not giving up. I believe I can yet remove the cog with both the hub and cog intact if I can just get the right leverage.

Stay tuned: restored hub and fixed cog OR paperweight?

Keep it venerable,


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunny Sunday Ride!

Rock bottom testing along the Green River.

Green River from the bridge. Hello Steelhead!

Tickle battle.

Tickle Truce.

Newly re-forked Fuji.

Keep it on the sunny side of the street,


Friday, February 19, 2010

Reforked Fuji

Newly reforked Fuji. Had to get the fork crown race seat ground to accept the headset crown race diameter. Boy, the cycling dimensions sure are squirrely, aren't they? Nice to have an appropriate fork remounted!

Thursday, February 18, 2010


the wheels run round
and the world unfurls
new energy is found
from muscles and whirls

why don't bicycles

amid squirrels that chatter
the wind sweeps away strife
old priorities scatter
on wheels a new life

ought not bicycles

down hills with great glee
uphill sweat soaking shirt
once more learning to see
that all growth starts with hurt

don't bicycles
teach us
to be?

we are challenging old forms
while some still charading
creating new storms
yet environment degrading

can't bicycling
new norms?

i'm cycling through time
and realizing i'm changing
can i help ring the chime
for priority rearranging?

on bicycles
can't we  

in the end it's the feeling
of our hard-pounding hearts
at our community's reeling
we can each do our part

doesn't bicycling
help us 
with healing?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Beautiful Spring Brevet...Except it Wasn't a Brevet or Nearly Spring!

Due to Dr. Codfish's invitation to ride the 0749 Lacey-Adna-Capital Forest-Lacey Permanent on what turned out to be a great weather day, ten or so of us rode what felt like a beautiful Spring brevet.

Crows seem to be following me lately, so the giant one above was a little disconcerting, but otherwise we just had fun, fun, fun. At least that's what I heard from folks.

For me, I pushed it harder and faster than ever before on a 200k. I joined up with faster riders, and it felt great!

We encountered this large heard of elk crossing the road near the Centralia Steam Plant. Maybe 75+ Elk altogether crossed the road while we watched. Quite a scene. One didn't cross. He/she got spooked and instead galloped rather frantically on a course parallel to ours for nearly five full minutes.

The Centralia Steam Plant, a Permanent 0749 landmark of sorts.

Here is a pic of me with a paper clip replacing my sunglasses screw and half of Josh's head. Try as I might I couldn't seem to get a good pic of the two of us. Sorry Josh. It took Josh to figure out that a paper clip might work. I was too trashed from hanging on to his and Rick's wheels to think straight enough to come up with a solution. Thanks for the repair idea and execution, Josh!

For a ride report that better captures the feel I think we all had, check out Doctor Codfish's ride report. He really captured this surprisingly fabulous day.

For me, it was all about riding harder and faster while feeling stronger and injury-free. A great combination and it's still only February. Come on, Spring!

Much thanks goes to Dr. C for inviting, cajoling, organizing and staying patient in the lead-up to this ride. You gave us Spring-bustin' out randonneurs a great gift, Dr. C!

Much thanks also to Narayan Krishnamoorthy for his patience and keeping us organized and legit. We appreciate all the volunteer efforts of Narayan and Geoff that make our permanent randonneuring possible!

Keep it with a spring in your cadence,


Monday, February 8, 2010

Needed: Calls/Emails to Make Cycling Safer!

I posted a little while back about the effort in Washington State to win Vulnerable User legislation to encourage automobile drivers to be more responsible around vulnerable users such as cyclists, tractor drivers, et al.

Well, Good News! The bill has passed out of committee, but it needs your help. Especially if you live outside of the Puget Sound area, your voice will matter a great deal (Puget Sound folks, please weigh in too!).

See the notice I received today from the Cascade Bicycle Club updating me on the progress of the bill, THANKS for taking action!

Thank you for sending a message to your legislator in favor of the Vulnerable User Bill! Your voice, along with 2,200 others, are part of what will make Washington's roads safer for everyone.

The bill squeaked through the Senate Judiciary Committee by a 5-3 vote last Friday afternoon. You can read more on the Bike Blog here.

We will still need the help of more Washingtonians outside Cascade's traditional service area to pass the bill through the Senate, since legislators are hearing from so many people in the Puget Sound Region. For example, some legislators around Lake Washington have received 200 or 300 of your messages, while some east of the mountains have only received one.

Please continue to educate your friends about the bill, and send them to our updated Action Page to send a message. Once again, your help is crucial to passing the Vulnerable User Bill.

The pic above is of three activists with compelling stories to tell, but who didn't get heard at the committee. If you have a story, please do contact your legislator for sure, and hook ukp with Cascade to help them make the most of your story. In my experience, stories for legislators matter.

Pass it along!

Keep it civilly active,


Thursday, February 4, 2010

On the Trail of a Fork...I Found One for the Perfect Trail!

About a year and a half ago I rammed my 35 year old Fuji into a tree and cracked the joint between my front fork and the dropout. I wasn't riding the bike; the bike was riding on the roof of our Explorer as we were pulling up to our little cabin on a forested mountainside. A low-hanging, and evidently stubborn, pine bough met the bike. Crunch and ouch!

I took the Fuji into Elliott Bay Bicycles and Bill Davidson pronounced my fork dead on arrival. He said that the original builder hadn't fed much meat from the dropout into the fork end, so it was inherently weak. Couldn't be fixed, so they ordered a generic replacement fork.

I'm always bummed when I look at it. It is a reminder of my carelessness, but also: the replacement fork is raked differently. The Fuji now has more trail than the way it was built, even though I now ride the bike with a handlebar bag. At the time, they encouraged me to look in the used parts bike shops for a replacement, but with an implied "and good luck" because the steering tube is exceedingly long and rare. (It's not that I'm so tall at 6 feet, but I originally bought too large a bicycle.) I did an initial search with--as expected--no luck.

So imagine my delight when I stumbled upon a near exact twin while pawing through used derailleur bins! The fork on the left above is my oldie. If you look closely--it is near impossible to discern unless in person--you can detect that the "new" fork is stouter. The fork rake is different too. Same overall amount of offset, but the arc of the curve is different. The crowns are also different, and the paint that remains is slightly darker. The chief thing is that it will restore the original trail of the bike.

As I've posted previously here and here, I am having a new randonneuring bicycle built up, so this old Fuji will be my backup. So what does it matter if she is equipped with an generic fork or original equipment? It's probably a good deal about sentiment. I do feel as if I'm at least partly restoring her back to what she represents: a solid Japanese bicycle imported into the U.S. for sale on a college campus at a time when bicycling began to capture the imagination of Americans again. And of course, she is also the bicycle upon which I've toured, commuted and first tasted randonneuring. As we all know and I said here, our bicycles are much more than the sum of their parts.

Not a bad tradeoff for a $10 bargain sitting around a used parts room.

Keep it on the lookout!