Tuesday, February 28, 2017


I don't know why this topic occurred to me today, I am fortunate that I haven't crashed in a long time and I am really fortunate not to have had an encounter with a car while riding (Knock on wood big time) but as a coffee shop friend and long time rider once told me "if you ride a bike you are either a rider who has crashed or one who will crash".    A crash goes by many names; taking a fall, biffing it, colliding with the ground, failing to keep the rubber side down, and my favorite the pavement luffa.  I can speak to this subject because I have crashed a time or two.

Once while commuting to work I was taking the long way so I could descend a nice curvy road.  This road has two nice curves in succession and on the first I carved it like a pro (in my head) so flush with pride I thought I would really carve the next one and so of course I went over too steeply, my wheels went out from under me and I literally slid all the way across the road - from one side to the other.  I was very lucky that A) the curb was very high which stopped my progress which would  have otherwise carried me over an embankment and B) that no cars were coming at that time (shudder).  Adrenaline took over and I completed my ride to work but my very bruised flank stiffened up over the day and I rode the bus home equal parts shamed by my crash and relieved it wasn't worse.

On a weekend ride part of my route took me on a bike path that skirts a fairly industrial area and at one point the path takes an S curve that is bisected by railroad tracks.  I was going pretty slow, probably 5 mph, but I was thinking about the curve rather than hitting the tracks with my wheels perpendicular so of course I went down as my front wheel went out.  This crash was memorable for a couple reasons.  First of all even though was going slow my wheel went out so fast that I was levered to the ground quickly - head first - and I saw stars like I was in a looney tunes cartoon, I shudder to think what that would have felt like without my helmet on, not meaning to preach here just sharing an experience.  Secondly the crash popped my tire and I used my only spare repairing the flat so, shaken up and with no spare tubes, I cut my ride short and turned around and headed home.  On the way back I had to climb a hill and I had just lost a bunch of weight and I was amazed at how easy climbing that hill felt now that I wasn't lugging the equivalent of a  2nd grader along with me.

When I started to ride a road bike to train for the Seattle to Portland ride back in 2000 I got introduced to riding clip-less pedals....yeah there is a learning curve.  Early on my issue was that I would most often clip out on my right for a stop and sometimes end up leaning left - where my foot was still clipped.  Yep slow motion topple with my clipped out foot failing uselessly, I'm sure it looked pretty comical.  And in the "I can laugh now category" my first clip-less shoes were Specialized Mt, bike shoes that had both laces and Velcro closures, on a training ride I happened to glance down and notice that a shoelace loop was coming out from under the Velcro closure and as I was thinking "this is bad the lace is going to get caught in my chain" that is exactly what happened and boom I am on the ground with one foot clipped in and and trapped under me and the bike and the other clipped in with a lace tangled in my chain and to make it even better I am halfway in the road!  So I shimmed my way on to the shoulder -I am sure I was the picture of grace -and somehow freed my foot from shoe and managed to extricate myself.  Not my finest moment on a bike.

And my final embarrassing story involves a turtle.  I was out on a fine spring day with the sun out for a ride around the neighborhood.  I was descending a moderate hill intending to take a left hand turn and continue down to the waterfront.  I was in luck as the turn lane had cleared and the light was green and I had a good head of steam off the hill and then it all went pear shaped, the next thing I knew I heard a loud yell (it was me) and I was literally sliding on my stomach toward the cross walk.  I later realized later that I had gone too far to the right of the turn lane to set up my turn and my front wheel had clipped a traffic "turtle" that is used to mark the lane and hitting the little raised half circle had precipitated my crash.  Two things stay with me about that crash, 1) there was a bus stop at that corner and a bunch of folks came out into the street to help me up, collect my bike and gear and see if I was ok - they thought a car had clipped me -it was one of the coolest instances of spontaneous kindness towards a stranger I have had the honor to witness and 2) my synthetic "Old guys who get fat in winter" jersey was unscathed despite being skidded on the pavement -  I expected it be in tatters - must've been weaved with Kevlar.

Oddly since I have stopped worrying about speed on the bike and concerned myself with enjoying the journey my crash rate has dropped quite a bit...hmmm.

As always Ride (safely). Smile. Repeat

Monday, February 20, 2017

Odds an Sods from Presidents day weekend

I was fortunate on Sunday to get my market ride in before the real rain started.  You can see the ground is wet but heavy stuff came down later.

I did see a pair of his and hers Public bikes with nice Brooks leather saddles and grips.  Very nice for getting around and running errands.

And of course after picking up a few items of produce I did stop by the pub and broke out of my IPA rut with an Oatmeal Stout.

Since this beer (Skookum Brewery- Breakfast of crows) is made with espresso I figure this counts as coffeeneuring too.

I also picked up a wrench, ok a Y shaped hex wrench, and did some dry fitting on the Schwinn Passage.  I noted in a post last August that after riding the Passage I decided that some changes were needed.  I've had most of the parts for a while, stem and bars, and decided to finally get them out of the box.

I got the wider bars (Velo Orange Rando) and longer stem (Nitto Technomic) last fall and and was going to use some parts bin brake levers but I got an Amazon gift card for Christmas and purchased some Origin8 drilled levers instead.  First I had to get the old cockpit off the bike.

old cockpit - meh

After a few rides on the Passage when I first got it,  I determined I didn't like the cockpit; stem height too short, bars too narrow and I wasn't enamored with feel and function of the levers so buh-bye.  I loosely test fitted the new parts before putting the new cockpit on the bike.

Nitto is apparently convinced their customers might be gorillas so they included a nice warning in the packaging advising that you should NOT use a pipe extender to reef the hex bolt mega - tight...ok.

After the dry fit I put the new cockpit on the bike to see how it  looks.  Definitely going to lose the clunky reflector mount.  I am not convinced that much more than superficial work was done to this bike before it went on CL so I will be stripping it down and making sure all the bearings are cleaned and rebuilt with fresh grease.  The new cockpit won't be on for real yet but it looks good.

newer, wider, taller
Since I was in a small groove I decided to test fit the new saddle too.  It was a close out from Velo Orange - Model 5 Sprung touring -that I picked up for $50.  We'll see how it rides.

Hope to get to the real work of getting the Passage up and running with rebuilt main bearings and the other new parts I have for it.   I may be riding this bike in the 2017 Tour De Lopez. at the end of April.

I just signed up so I am committed, or at least I should be (rimshot).  I can't even remember the last time I did an organized ride - maybe 2010?  There are three distance options 12, 17 and 31 miles and Lopez is the flattest of the San Juan Island group so it shouldn't be too tough, but I will still need to ride to get in shape so that is a good thing.

As always ride.smile.repeat

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sunny Sunday ride

Olympic range

It was simply too nice out not to go for a ride today.  Earlier this week it was raining buckets so the sunshine and blue skies were a welcome change and a good reason to throw a leg over the top tube.  Normally I just head for the farmers market but I had a text from my Daughter, who on winter Sundays goes skiing with her mom, and my girl noted that the family dog was sad his mamma and girl had left him (hint, hint dad) so I made a stop since it was only a few blocks out of way and gave some love to the hound.

such a good boy

I did actually spot one cool bike today.  This Cannondale R300 started out life as an entry level road bike (probably in the late 90's), I had the R800 which was a few steps up, and the owner has turned it into what appears to be a very nice porteur.  Nice north road bars, city brake levers, bar-end shifters and a VERY generous front basket.

I normally get produce to juice at the market but things are pretty thin in early February unless you want apples, potatoes or leeks.  This week I got some local roasted hazelnuts and some raspberry strudel from the Czech bakery down the street.  I am munching on the strudel, after warming in the oven,  while writing this.

A trip to the market of course means a stop at the beer junction, in this case for a Port Mongo Imperial IPA.  Candy gram for Mongo? And while I was there I even got to watch a bit of the Lady Beavs basketball (from my beloved Alma mater Oregon State) take on the Lady Bruins on the Pac 12 network whilst sipping that fine brew. 

Just a lovely day to be outside and pedaling.

blue skies coming my way
As always: Ride. Smile. Repeat.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Paying for bike love

Fresh from the salon

I did something I haven't done in a while, realizing the bike I ride was in desperate need of some TLC I paid someone else to administer it.  I took my bike to the shop rather that doing the work myself.  I mentioned in my last post that my LBS was doing a deal where if you brought in canned/dry goods for the local food bank that they would do a "free" drive train clean.  Now we all now that the free maintenance is just a reason to go through your bike and find stuff that needs work they can charge you for but I was ok with that as no one had cast a critical eye on my Handsome Devil in about 5 years.  Other than putting air in the tires and an occasional wipe down I had not done Jack I'm ashamed to say.

And cast a critical eye they did.  I learned that one draw back of V-brakes is that water gets into the cable noodle but it doesn't really have a place to get out so after a while you get rusty cables which meant  the rear cable got replaced and while they were at it they shortened the cable housing which had been getting hung up.

streamlined housing run

They also checked my bottom bracket, which was fine, and my headset which was not.  The FSA Pig headset I used on this bike doesn't have a cap for the top bearing race to keep out dust and moisture so it was toast and they replaced it with new bearings and better grease and cleaned and lubed the lower bearings.
headset love
The front wheel also proved needy, it is after all one of Shimano's finest err I mean cheapest wheels.  The hub needed adjustment and it needed truing and before it could be trued the seized spokes needed to be soaked to loosen them.  A few broken spokes later and its up and running with the warning it might need replacement down the road.

The wrench also pointed out to me when I brought the bike in that one front brake shoe was just about shot so baby has a new pair of shoes up front.  And did I mentioned they cleaned it! My bottom bracket shell is so clean you could eat off it.

So my bike has been loved (by another) and my wallet is lighter by over a C-note but that's ok as I helped the local economy and I have fewer excuses not to ride more.

Ride. Smile. Repeat.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Hello 2017

Well folks after a winter hibernation I am back.  In 2016 I had a blog record 39 posts, not sure I will get there this year but I certainly have plenty to do, I just need to pick up a wrench and do it.  Parts have been purchased, a bike sits in the work stand partially disassembled, its just up to me to break the stalemate and start.  In the meantime, while doing nothing new, I did have a few firsts for the year of 2017.

1st market ride 2017
 Yes, readers of the blog will be familiar with a shot of the West Seattle junction, I finally threw a leg over the top tube and took my first ride of the year to my first farmers market of the year.  The crowds and produce were sparse as you can imagine in January.  It was approaching 50 degrees when I took off, which was a nice change of pace as its been in the 20s and 30s for most of the month.  Thats cold for us fragile Seattleites, give us rain by the bucketful but below 40 or above 85 and we want cheese with our whine.

small wheeled small child hauler
 With the dearth of people there was an equal scarcity of bikes, I had the whole bike corral to myself, so I took a shot of this kid hauler in the window of West Seattle cyclery.  The shop also had an interesting special on their sandwich board out front, essentially will wrench for food donations to the local food bank.

I normally clean up and tune my own drivetrain but this seems like a good reason to donate some food and hang out a cool shop.

And of course no trip to the market is complete without a stop to the beer junction to get a double IPA (Sticky hands)

I have half a mind to do an organized ride this year.  I have had my eye on the Tour de Lopez ride for over a decade.  Its not too far or too challenging just a bit of a drive, but that is to the San Juan's which I love and is an easy day trip if I choose.  It would require me to ride myself into shape, not a bad thing and I might even try to get the Schwinn Passage built up to take it on the ride, also not a bad thing.  We'll see, as my Mom used to say when I was small boy and wanted a toy, or a ride on the coin operated Horse in the Safeway.

As always. Ride.Smile.Repeat

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Coffeeneuring #7: C&P Coffee

Stock photo

I was saving the best for last and it almost didn't happen.  Like the hare in the story I breezed through the first 6 controls by October 30th, I was way out in front of this thing and only needed one final coffee ride and had almost 3 weeks to do it, no problem.   The first problem, the weekend of the 5th the elevator in my building went out and I live on the top floor.  I could have probably lugged my heavy steel bike up and down 4 flights of stairs but I figured I could wait it out, so no bike ride.  Second problem on the weekend of the 12th I needed to head down to Portland to pick up a replacement vehicle since mine had been totaled as a result of being damaged while stolen.  On the way home I started feeling a cold coming on.

I ended up burning two sick days and working from home the rest of this week, on Thursday, still coughing and sniffling and with my lower back seized up I reflected bitterly that with only two days left, I wasn't going to make it to ride 7 when it had seemed so easily in reach.  

Handsome Devil out front
Fortunately I started to feel marginally better and more importantly my back loosened up on Friday, so early today (Saturday) I set off on a rainy dark morning to complete the challenge.  As I mentioned above I had saved C&P for last intentionally, I live literally right next door -about 55 steps away, so I had to do a two mile ride first.   I didn't mind the cool and wet because I had been convinced a few days ago it wasn't even going to happen.   With the ride out of the way it was time for coffee!
Mocha and ham & cheese croissant
My friend Cam (the "C" in C&P with her Husband Pete) was working the espresso machine and made me my Saturday standard a "weekend Mocha" with local Theo chocolate.  I have been coming to C&P since they opened 12 years ago and I used to joke when I was unemployed and job searching from the Coffee shop that my apartment was my home away from C&P.   Why do I love the place; it's located in an old bungalow, the coffee is great, the people are awesome, the vibe is comfortable and welcoming, they serve beer and wine in the evenings and they host live music.  Why would I want to go anywhere else?  did I mention they are right next door?

I start most days by walking out the back door of my building, strolling down the alley and walking through the back yard to C&P, the back is a nice cool place to spend an evening on a warm summer day sipping a beer or wine and winding down at days end.

As I slip in the back door I am warmly greeted by my C&P only nickname as I enter and usually take a peek at the sports page while sipping my coffee before heading off to work.  Like I said I saved the best for last.  I can start my gratitude list early by being thankful that I was able to complete this challenge and that I have such a great coffee shop in my life.

Summary for ride #7:
  1. Where: C&P Coffee, 5612 California ave SW, Seattle WA
  2. When: Saturday, Nov. 19th, 7:30 am
  3. Drink: Theo Mocha and Ham & Cheese Croissant
  4. Ride: Damp, dark and cool, good bike friendliness with rack right in front of the shop and as my theme continues < a mile from home -in fact right next door!
  5. Distance: 3.26 Kilometers/2.02  miles
Challenge complete.

Ride.Smile.caffeinate Repeat.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Coffeeneuring #6: Cafe Ladro

snow? nah
What a difference a day makes.  Yesterday the sun was shining and I was riding in a short sleeved shirt, today the sky was leaden and I was wearing a merino wool sweater.  I really had no intention to coffeeneur today, but I rode to the market for some fresh veg. and on the way home I had a slight downhill and I just kept going all the way to Cafe Ladro.

You may recall that this was where I went on my Coffeeneruing training ride, today it counted.  I decided to get the specialty of the house -a Medici which is essentially a mocha with orange zest, and the raspberry scone was talking to me so I got one of those too.

And yes despite the coolness of the day I sat outside under the awning in a comfy adirondack chair, in part because I was already wearing the wool sweater and because I had produce in my pannier that I wanted to kept an eye on.

So now I have until November 20th to log one final ride, the last one will be to my favorite coffee shop in the world which happens to be right next door.

Summary for ride #6:
  1. Where: Cafe Ladro, 7011 California ave SW, Seattle WA
  2. When: Sunday, October 30th, 1:30 pm
  3. Drink: Medici with Raspberry Scone
  4. Ride: 180 from yesterday's ride, cold enough to need a merino sweater, leaden skies, good bike friendliness with rack right in front of the shop and as my theme continues < a mile from home
  5. Distance: 5.12 Kilometers/3.18  miles longest ride yet! included a trip to the farmers market.
Ride.Smile.caffeinate Repeat.