Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Training for the big event!

LeMond Vs. The Badger 1986
Don't let the picture above fool you I have not been asked to ride the Tour de France, but I did do some training today, and it did involve riding my bike....to coffee.

I have been aware of the Coffeeneuring challenge, now in year 6, for a few years and read others blog accounts of their participation but have never done it myself.  I decided to change that this year and since the event kicks off on October 7th I figured I had better start training.



The basic tenet of the Coffeeneuring challenge is to ride to 7 different coffee shops over 7 weeks, since I live in one of the most coffee addicted and coffee shop dense places on earth, Seattle WA, that shouldn't be a problem.  In fact I found 7 coffee shops that are less than a mile from me and that's not even including the place with the Mermaid mascot.  One of the options of the challenge is to have a theme, so my theme is the coffee shop is less than a mile from my house, which makes things interesting since rule 7 states coffeeneuring rides must be at least 2 miles.  I will be doing some looping for this challenge to meet the two mile minimum, especially since my favorite coffee shop in the world is literally right next door - approximately 55 steps away.


For my training ride I selected a shop that is at the southern limit of my with in a mile rule, its  9/10ths of a mile away.  To get into practice I am logging the details of my practice run:


  1. where you went (address and website, if possible); Cafe Ladro, a local chain, West Seattle Location.
  2. the date you went there; September 27th -dry run
  3. what you drank; Short Irish cream latte
  4. a detail or two about your coffeeneuring ride, including your assessment of the “bike friendliness” of the location; The ride is a straight shot from my apt. and although the street has "sharrows" and a short section of bike lane its fairly busy so not a great ride route but bike parking is available at Ladro.  
  5. total mileage. 1.8 miles as this was training I didn't feel the need to loop for extra mileage to hit the 2 mile minimum.

One of the things I like about this particular Ladro location, in addition to the fine coffee, is the adirondack chairs out in front of the shop sheltered under an awning.  In temperate Seattle you can sit out front sipping coffee on all but the foulest of days.

Hopefully I will be up to the challenge of 7 grueling 2 mile coffee rides from October 7th to November 20th.


Until next time Ride, Caffeinate, Smile, Repeat.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Change of Scenery ride

I really love the views I get riding the Alki bike path but after doing 6 rides in a row on that route it was time for a change in scenery.  Whereas Alki offers scenic beauty in bunches the new path I choose is, shall we say, a bit more gritty.

new section of trail completed 2015

The Duwamish river trail follows what is a "working" river south of downtown Seattle and a fairly industrial area.  I passed warehouses, light industrial, chemical plants, concrete factories etc.  Quite a departure from the mountain and sound views I was used to but its good to change things up a bit.

A working river
At one stage of my adult bike riding nearly every ride was a group ride and involved loading my bike on the car rack and driving someplace to meet up and ride.  One day a neighbor, and fellow cyclist, saw me unloading my bike from the car and commented "your driving someplace to ride your bike?".  A simple comment but it resonated with me and I started to seek out local rides that didn't involve me driving somewhere.  I noticed in looking at my Seattle bike map that I had a number of bike paths in my area; Alki, Duwamish, Green River, Interurban etc. but they didn't really connect.  In fact it took me three tries before I could find a way to connect the end of the Duwamish trail and the start of the Green River trail.  I could see on that map it wasn't far maybe a mile and half but until I realized I had to jump onto to a sidewalk to go a short distance the wrong way on a one way street, thread through some sketchy neighborhoods and ride a frontage road I had never connected them.  Once I figured it out I had access to literally miles of paths.

a prettier section of the Duwamish
 So in order to keep my riding going I took my bike to the start of the Duwamish trail to get some riding in before sunset.  I had forgotten that dusk could come on so fast in September and I didn't think to check my tail light until I was on the ride to realize it had been too long since it had interfaced with a USB port and it was dead.  I was ok, however, and finished a 19 km out and back ride before the sun totally went down.  I was also able to do the ride without a "breather" stop this time, in part because I didn't want to burn daylight and in part because I felt strong enough to do it in one go which was a pleasant surprise.  Also in the section I was riding there was no place I really wanted to stop and hang out.

bike pedestrian bridge
I was able to make it to the start of the Green River trail which in the future I can use to create some longer rides.  Although the trail I rode is mostly warehouses, train tracks, and gritty urban landscapes, I did get some glances of the river and there are some nice art pieces here and there.
Boat sculpture 
I got off to a late start this summer with riding but I realize that weather won't be as much of a challenge to continued riding as daylight.  We usually have nice falls here in the northwest into mid to late October but the days are getting shorter so I might need to start taking a bike to work with me if I want to get in a mid week ride before darkness falls.

Riding, Smiling and Repeating.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

How Many Miles?

Polar S720i
I came across a blog post the other day, A few spokes shy of a wheel, and this cyclist had been tracking his mileage for 25 years and knew he had hit the 100,000 miles cycled milestone.  Reading about this stirred up all kinds of emotions in me; admiration that this person had hit such a milestone, regret that I had not kept better track of my miles, and indifference as I had turned away from being too metric driven about my cycling years ago and I thought it had changed my time on the bike for the better.


I rediscovered cycling as an adult in 1999, a friend called up and said "lets go for a ride!" I said that sounded nice but I didn't have a bike and he replied "I got it covered".  He came over with a hybrid or Mountain bike, I don't recall which and we went for a ride on the Burke Gilman trail which was only a few blocks away from where I lived at the time.  I do recall struggling up the "hill" back to my house which I discovered later was basically just a false flat.

an STP Mob

That led to deciding to ride the STP or Seattle to Portland bike ride as a new years resolution for 2000, the STP is a 200 mile, 2 day supported ride that happens every July.  I had by then purchased a Motiv Mountain bike from Costco because I didn't know any better , I thought  converting the knobbies to road tires would work just fine....  When I started riding in the spring of 2000 I noticed that when my buddy on his road bike and I were on rolling hills he could out coast me on the descent and then be halfway up the next hill before he had to pedal, whereas my momentum was spent as soon as the uphill started.  I very quickly realized I was going to need all the help I could get and so I dropped a load of cash on a Cannondale R800 road bike.

My Cannondale
And that started me on the path to riding distances, tracking them and working out so I could ride them faster.  By about 2008 or 2009  riding my bike was feeling like a chore and I went the other way and chucked the wired approach (with a Polar S720i cycling computer and all the gear I was wired all right) and start riding to enjoy it!  I noticed houses I had cycled past a hundred times without registering saw bald eagles, took in the awesome views around my neighborhood rides that I had been missing because I was heads down focused on my average speed, cadence and heart rate.  That eventually led me to a Steel bike and a love for Vintage bikes and this blog.

I had all the gear
So for me anyway, not worrying about mileage and all the other stuff was a good thing so why was I so stirred up by this blog post about milestones , does it really matter how many miles I have cycled or not?  And even if I really wanted to know the Polar was sold years ago, and any computer or binder I would have logged mileage in was long gone so I couldn't know even if I wanted to.  These days I just have a simple Cateye wireless computer that I don't even bother to set for each trip, I just ride.

I am, however, prone to obsessing about things so I started to recount rides I had done and trained for (STP,  Haleakala, Metric Centuries), bike commuting that I had done to various jobs, found an old account on MapMyRide that filled in some gaps for 2008-2011 and looked through some old emails and Facebook to capture a few other miles and kilometers.  I very conservatively estimated that from late 1999 to date I have ridden at least 3500 miles, I know that is way under reported and I will never really know for sure if I have done double that or  maybe just a few extra hundred miles.  In the end I am where I am, even if I knew I had done 10,000 miles of riding previously that wouldn't change the fact that I am a guy trying to pedal more these days and regain some semblance of fitness.

How many miles?  I'll never know but I do know that I will continue to Ride.Smile and Repeat.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Riding the Gauntlet

When you're old fat and out of shape you drive somewhere flat to ride

I don't do many ride reports because to do one you need to actually..um...ride, and until recently the only riding I was doing was a 10 block round trip to the farmers market on Sundays.  I'm trying to change that and  have ridden 7 of the last 9 days, at first to test out the Schwinn Passage and then to try and start building some fitness.  My Velo brother the Trailer Park Cyclist, threw down the gauntlet and challenged me to ride 24 miles.  My cyclo-computer is set to Kilometers, a cheap fiction to make me feel like I am going faster and longer, so I've modified the challenge to 24 kilometers.  That's 15 miles for those keeping score at home, I felt that was plenty challenging considering I hadn't ridden that far since the fall of 2013 and my longest ride this week had been 10 Km (6.25 miles) so 15 miles/24 Km was going to be more than double my longest ride thus far.
beginning odometer 72.95 km
A secondary gauntlet, to the distance, was riding on the Alki bike path most of the way, I like the idea of bike paths but I don't usually like riding on them, this one has bikes; tourists, joggers, kids on razor scooters, people walking dogs on extendo-leashes and it goes through some heavily travelled areas where folks step into the path without looking -all the time.  Usually I would take my chances with the cars on the road but I am so slow it doesn't really matter right now, and the views are pretty nice.

Seattle skyline looking across Elliot bay
A bit of a headwind on the first part of the journey but not too bad.  I saw uni-cycles, lots of two wheelers, some bikes with trailers and some 3 and 4 wheelers a local vendor rents out to the tourists during the summer.
Looking toward Vashon Island
When I ran out of bike path  I was riding for a distance on the road for the first time in a while, miles as a opposed to the few blocks I do on Sundays. 
Hanging on the sailboat not a bad way to pass Labor day
About 2/3rds of the way into the ride it was time to stop along the Alki strip....


and deploy anti-bonking protocols.


It was nice to take a bit of breather and rest the "sit bones" for while and then it was back on the bike.

Obligatory Space Needle shot.

I was getting tired but fortunately the headwind on the way out was a bit of a tailwind on the way back so that helped.  I was waiting for someone to blow by me and tell me how slow I was and I had a witty retort all ready to go:  I'm not slow..I'm Glacial.  Unfortunately no one obliged.

folks getting their exercise on the water

As I headed into the home stretch I could see on my bike computer that I was going to be a hair short of my goal of 24 km so I added a little extra loop to hit the mark.
ending odometer 96.99 km
Not exactly epic, no one cried,  but at the finish my legs were heavy, I had tightness between my shoulder blades and an overall feeling of fatigue, I should sleep well tonight.  So Tim Joe I will not set a distance challenge for you - just ride your bike and write on your blog about it.

post ride suds
I rode, I smiled and I am trying to repeat.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Helmet diaries and other things.....

Reenactment
For the past week I have been trying to ride more and do distances longer than the 5 blocks to the Farmers market, however due to my poor fitness I have been driving to a flat bike path along Elliot bay (cue shame and irony at driving somewhere to ride your bike).  On Wednesday I was loading up my bike, the de-panniered HD, on the rear rack and put my helmet and water bottle on the trunk while doing so, making a mental note not to forget they were there.  I forgot.  At the end of my alley I thought I heard a weird noise but dismissed it, and about 1/2 mile later I look over at the passenger seat and register there is something missing connect the weird noise and double back to find my helmet and water bottle.  Nothing, they are no where to be found.  Odd, but I press on and do a short ride on the bike path anyway (cue the slings and arrows of helmet-less riding).

Look Ma no panniers!
So this morning while out running errands I go to my local bike shop to get a new helmet, keep in mind I have about 4 LBS to chose from in my neighborhood.  I read somewhere a long time ago that all helmets pass the same safety rating and it occurred to me that the expensive multi vent super light helmet with the vaguely Italian name was no better at keeping me from cracking my noggin than the entry level Bell helmet at Kmart.  So I was just looking for something basic and settled on a nice modestly priced Specialized.
New lid
As the shop owner was coming up from the repair area to ring me up I am relating the story of how I stupidly lost the last helmet and he gets a slow smile and asks "was it red?" and I say yes and it was a Bell, and he goes back to the repair area and produces both my helmet and water bottle!   He explains that one of his customers was volunteering at a church, there is one near the end of my alley, and found them in the street and brought them into the shop.  How cool is that!? I wasn't too bummed at losing the helmet, at 5 years old it probably needed to be replaced anyway (styrofoam breaks down after a while) but the water bottle was a gift from my daughter so I was very happy to get it back.  Serendipity strikes again, thank you good samaritan!

Farmers Market bikes

I am always on the lookout for cool bikes at the Sunday farmers market and last week didn't disappoint.  First an 80's  Centurion Le Mans RS.


Its sporting a new SunRace rear derailleur, it doesn't take much to keep these old steel steeds going and I'm always glad when I see people making the effort.

New RD
And with lights, rack and leather saddle this vintage ride actually gets used.


Then I spotted a real prize, a Rivendell Clem Smith Jr.  I knew of them of course and they looked good on the web but in person it was absolutely stunning.  So clean and shiny it was as if it had just been wheeled out of the shop.
Clem Jr.

Fellow bike blogger Anniebikes just purchased a step thru model - the Clementine.

Dry Dock for the Passage

After three rides, with the front derailleur cable going completely slack on the last ride, I decided it was dry dock time for the Passage.  Issues with fit, frayed cable ends making adjustment difficult, brake lever position, need for brake adjustment etc I thought it was time to end the "just ride it" experiment and do an overhaul.  The new, wider, tires have already arrived and I have ordered enough new parts to equal what I paid for the bike lol.  In addition to the Nitto stem, different chain rings, MKS Sneaker pedals and bell I talked about in the previous post I added a few new items as well.


I found the stock mid 80's handlebars to be a bit narrow and since I already planned to replace the stem and brake levers I thought I would go the whole way and got some Velo Orange Chris' Rando bars in a 48cm width.

While I was there I took advantage of the 50% off sale on their sprung model 5 saddle rather than cannibalize the Brooks off my Motobecane.  I got brown as the other colors are sold out.
Lezyne HD Sport
Although I could get away with it on the short flat rides I was doing, I didn't like riding without a pump.  I really wanted to get a Zefal HD frame pump, the Passage has a brazed on pump peg for gosh sakes! but I went with the Lezyne for a couple reasons:

  • It was on sale and half the price of the Zefal.
  • I have used a Lezyne pump on the HD and really liked it;  small, light and gets enough pressure in a tire in about 30 strokes.  And it comes with a mount that fits under the water bottle cage.
  • I like the flexible hose at the end of the Leyzne because with a frame pump like the Zefal the pump body and head are directly attached to the valve stem and I always worry I am going to break off the tubes valve while pumping.
  • The Leyzne's hose has a Schrader end and a Presta end, easy peezy, the Zefal has a Chinese puzzle like head that needs to be disassembled to adjust for S vs P.
So there you go, enjoy the long weekend and Ride.Smile.Repeat.

Monday, August 29, 2016

First Ride(S) Impressions: 1986 Schwinn Passage

Elliott Bay from Alki Point
Yes rides plural, nothing epic both were about two miles each just getting a feel for the Passage and a couple baby steps towards some semblance of fitness.  So here is what I know so far.

Definitely smooth feeling steel and with no racks or stuff its surprisingly light especially as compared to the HD.  I started with approximations for fit borrowed from my Handsome devil; saddle height, distance of saddle from stem etc but its going to need some tweaking to feel as natural as the HD does.  The good news is I am in the ball park I don't think the frame is too big or too small, which would suck,  I just need to keep fiddling with it.  


After the second ride I am fairly convinced I need a Nitto Technomic stem to get the bars higher, right now I get them just about level with the seat but I am used to a more upright position on the HD and the stem on the Passage is maxed out.  I'll need to get a longer reach as when the stem comes up it also comes back and closer.
Those tires seem so skinny! The Passage has 27 x 1 1/4 tires the standard 27" wheel size but I have ridden 700x 47c tires for the last 4 years and its noticeable how much they smooth out the ride especially over the crappy pavement we have in my neighborhood.  Long term some 27 X 1 3/8 tires are in order.  Update: Actually Kenda K40s are on order as I found a deal for $8 bucks and change a piece at bike tires direct.




The front derailleur tends to slip after a while and I believe I have a slack chain, my guess is that the chain has too many links, it was ok in the middle ring  but it felt very "floppy" in the granny ring so I will need to adjust that, and if  I do I may also replace the free wheel.  I have a wider range IRD 6 speed (14-32) that I think should work -of course you start to peel away a layer and you find more and more.
I noticed a slight rub from the front wheel so it either needs to be trued or the brakes need adjusting which could prove interesting.  I did some web searching for adjustment info on Dia Compe 960 Cantis and didn't really find anything expect a ton of ebay listings.  I am going to try the stock option first but I do have my eye on some Tektro 720's that I think wouldn't look out of place on this bike, are reasonably priced and have greater adjustment options.  We'll see.


I am not sure the WTB saddle is going to be... um ample enough for my "luggage" and I do have a nice Brooks Imperial sitting on a bike thats getting no use right now so that might be a change too.

Ample coverage

After the second ride I am not sure I am in love with the stock SR SP-250 alloy semi-platform pedals, they are probably great with toe clips but I am not going that way just yet and in the interim I might try out some MKS Sneaker pedals for a better platform for my foot.

Minor wishes; I would like a bell for safety as much as anything and I usually avoid bike paths because even though they are multi-use I find that some of the people who use them are oblivious to everything around them and it would be nice to have a bell for a polite warning rather than having to whistle or shout.  I also have some cyclo -computers about somewhere and while I don't really care about my speed or distance in an of themselves they do provide a useful benchmark so I can say "back in August I was only doing X and now I am doing Y" - progress.


So the bike is rideable especially for the short flat stuff I am going to be doing for a while but the problem with having worked on so many bikes is that I notice when little stuff isn't quite right; fit, sloppy chain, faint brake rub, slack shift cables and it bugs me so it may not be the "just ride it" experience I was thinking of but I hope I can get it satisfactorily dialed in without peeling away too much of the onion, for now I am really just concerned about the functional and not the cosmetic which I also notice but choose to ignore for now.

The Curious Case of non standard Colors

While I was waiting to go collect the passage from seller I was scrolling through images on Google of 1986 Passages and I noticed something kind of odd.   The only catalog color listed for this bike is Midnight Navy (Blue) and indeed most of the bikes I saw were that color... but not all.

My Passage in Midnight Navy
On ebay there was a 1986 Passage in Imperial Rose (Red) a color for the 1987 Voyageur.
Passage in Imperial Rose
I also found an example in British Pine (Green) a color for the 1986 Voyageur.
Pinetrest Passage in British Pine
And I even found one in Gunmetal (Grey) a color for the 1986 Prelude sport bike
Passage in Gunmetal
It doesn't really matter but it does make a fellow wonder why is this?  Some ideas:
  • Like car companies back in the day you could pay extra and order a different color from the factory
  • April fools joke
  • The lines on the dot matrix printer at the factory got mixed up
  • They ran out of Midnight Navy one day and sorta improvised
Whatever the answer it did make for some interesting browsing.  Until next time..,

Ride.Smile.Repeat.