Monday, June 26, 2017

Spokane River Centennial trail - a Sibling Ride

Trail Map
I went to Spokane last weekend for a gathering of the Siblings.  The two middle siblings both live there, my oldest brother drove up from Portland and I, the youngest, drove from Seattle - about 250 miles.  I have, at one point or another, ridden will all three siblings individually as an adult but never with all three at the same time and was looking forward to a first ever group ride.  That is going to have to wait for another time, as it turns out my sister has been having some mild dizzy spells and as a trained Physical Therapist she is smart enough to listen to her body and my eldest brother didn't think he was far enough along after knee surgery to go for a ride.


My brother Steve my host for the weekend is a recent transplant from the greater Seattle area.  His wife grew up near Spokane and after raising 5 kids in Seattle they parlayed their modest rambler in the red hot Seattle market into a river front home in Spokane.  The view above is from their dock on a glorious June evening.  Part of the reason for my trip was to see the new house.  I am 95% thrilled for them and only about 5% jealous.


believe it or not I am the "little" brother

Fortunately I had not schlepped my bike 5 hours one way for nothing.  Not only does my brother commute to work on his bike most days but his house is about 200 yards from the trail at about Mile 16.  We got an easy 6.5 mile (10.4 km) ride in on the evening I arrived, after I fixed a brake issue he was having. We went from about mile 16 to just past mile 19 of the trail on the map above, construction prevented us from going much further but that was fine with me.

trail motif
The Spokane River Centennial Trail is a great public resource, per the website:

Forty miles long, the Centennial Trail begins at the Washington/Idaho state line and ends at Lake Spokane in Nine Mile Falls, Washington. Our one-of-a-kind Trail has its metropolitan center section in downtown Spokane in Riverfront Park, and branches out to more rural east and west endpoints. The Trail’s path generally follows the contours of the Spokane River, allowing access for many types of outdoor non-motorized recreational activities.

lazy section of river viewed from the trail
On Saturday morning we went for a longer ride, 18.5 km from mile post 16 to about mile post 10 on the trail,  It was a pleasant mild morning before the heat of the day.  The trail was being used by cyclists, walkers and joggers but didn't feel as "over loved" and congested as the Seattle trails sometimes do.  My impression is that  I would have never known I was near a city if we had not had to ride a short ways on roadside bike lanes to get to the path part of the trail, for most part it feels like you are out in the country.


The path, as the name implies. mostly follows the Spokane river and even crosses it a few times, the picture below is the "lock" bridge where engaged couples come leave a lock on the bridge as a symbol of their love.


I would certainly be utilizing this resource for exercise and just getting around if I lived in Spokane, for now, at least for the next 4 years while my daughter goes through high school, I am a happy Seattlite but who knows maybe some day?  In Spokane I might actually be able to afford a house, with a detached garage for bike tinkering, which is not happening in the crazy Seattle market.



Its easy to just do the I-90 straight shot from Seattle to Spokane, but since I didn't really have a time table I detoured to Cheney, home of Eastern Washington University on the way there and to Ellensburg, home of Central Washington University on the way back home.  That is where I spotted the cool College town bike shop above, ReCycle Shop, in business in Ellensburg since 1971,  It the kind of place I would like to hang out/explore but unfortunately they were closed on Sunday.  I guess that's an excuse for another visit.

Until next time Ride with family.Smile.Repeat.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Wheel Day - Ritchey Project part IV


Before I get to the Ritchey I thought I would share this fatbike I walked by in the neighborhood the other day.  I know our local roads are crumbling and I sure love fat tires but it seems a bit much for a city bike!

Today was wheel day for the Ritchey, something I have been meaning to do for about a month, but I took care of a few other things too.

Filthy front brake before


After some Simple Green and toothbrush, its still going to need some detail cleaning and some mothers but its a lot less filthy.


I also stripped the last of the Triathlon bits off the frame


No more CO2 canister holder on the seat tube.  I may just put all the triathlon bits together on CL for $5 and see if anyone wants to get areo on their old road bike.


I also used my first ever Park Tool, a chain scrubber, to get the chain cleaned up,  It will have a long weekend to dry out before I lube it.


I had already stripped off all the old rubber from the Ritchey wheel set the last time I worked on it, the first step was to put each wheel in the truing stand, the front needed a few minor tweaks but the rear needed zero so it was on to wheel clean up.


As you can see the front hub is dull,  I went over the whole wheel with Armor All wipes to deal with the dust and dirt and then put some polish on the hub.


Its not going to blind anyone but its an improvement, one of these days I am going to figure out the buffing wheels for the Dremel but this wasn't the hub to experiment with.


Rims before a good wipe down


And looking much better after.



Because its on the dirty end of things the rear hub got a scrub a hub treatment with Simple Green and a tooth brush to get all the grime off.


A bit of hub polishing and a Cassette cleaning and the rear is looking ready for some new rubber.




However I couldn't forget the skewers, they had some rust spots that I dealt with via the Dremel and a brass wire brush,


 And finally it was time for the new rubber I have had for a few weeks, I think I mentioned I got a great deal on the tires from Nashbar and then I got the rim strips and tubes locally to support my LBS, all in I was able to outfit the wheels for a little over $40 total.


I was so excited to get the new rubber on that I had one tire half on before I realized I'd not put on the rim strip - oops - did a bit of back tracking and here we are.


Many tires have directional tread so you want to make sure you have that figured out before you start mounting the tires on the rim, especially if your a bit anal and like the QR for both tires to be on the same side.   The other thing I like to do is have the PSI info on the sidewall oriented above the tubes stem so its easy to reference if you are putting air in your tires or heaven forbid you have a flat.


Now I can check wheels off the list of things to do, I realized its probably been about a decade since I mounted tires this skinny or pumped up tubes to over 100 psi.  I run low pressure high volume tires on the HD and rarely pump the 27" tires over 80 psi.

I am headed to Spokane for a 3 day weekend to visit with my siblings, little brother  has already had a few "could you look at this on my bike" requests so I will be bringing a bike and some tools with me. Next week I hope to make more progress on the Ritchey so we can get it on CL with the weather warming up.

Until next time. Ride.Smile.Repeat.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Ride me out to the Ball Game

Duwamish river with Mt. Rainier in the distance
One of my goals while I am on my "work hiatus" was to ride my bike to a ball game.  I was inspired by the excellent "A few spokes shy of a wheel" blog where "Rootchopper", a resident of the greater DC metro-plex, regularly rides his bike to see the Washington Nationals.  I did some research and found out that the Safeco Field, where my beloved and beleaguered (15 years with no post season appearance) Mariners play, is only 5 miles away and has bike parking in one of the stadium garages.  The route is mostly downhill or flat on the way there but it's a fairly gritty and industrial route going by the port and rail yards.  You do get a nice view of Mt. Rainier from the summit of the bridge crossing the Duwamish river though, and it was peaking out on my ride.


About a mile from the stadium I had to pause for this train whose end was just in the intersection when it stopped, fortunately they backed it up and we were able to get through, the final part of the route to the stadium runs on 1st avenue which is a busy 4 lane surface street whose only nod to bikes are faded sharrows.  I am not usually a fan of riding on the sidewalk as I think it comes with it own set of issues but in this case I made an exception.  I used to commute to downtown and used a better bike route but that was a decade ago and lots of construction has happened in that time so I just took the route google maps laid out.


Once I got to the stadium I dismounted and walked the bike as I was close to the garage and there were swarms of pedestrians making their way to the game and/or the beer garden you can't see in the photo above that was on my right.


On my way to the garage I spotted these racks but since I had read the bike parking was inside  I kept going.  As I neared the entrance to the parking garage the attendants must have seen my "this my first time and I don't what I am doing" look and kindly directed me were to go.

no lolly gagging!
The bike cage was really more of a cave, its a low spot in the garage with support beams running through it and any car that wasn't a low rider would have a difficult time parking in that area.  I'm just shy of 6 feet and I had to duck to get in and out. but it is nice they have a secure place for bikes.


I got the HD all locked up and squared away and swapped my bike helmet for my new Mariners cap.  I do like having a pannier for carrying stuff.  I thought I was going to do this trip back in May but between the rain, cold (48 degrees) and dark I decided to bike another day.  In anticipation of that game I decided to order a new ball cap after I realized I had been using the old one for 17 years.


The bike cage reminded me of ones I have used at various employers over the years and although it didn't have a keypad at the gate being inside a garage with parking attendants felt much more secure than outside.


With summer having not truly arrived yet in the PNW the bike parking was under utilized with less than 10 bikes in the cage but I expect things will be different in July.  I thought I had left home early, but by the time I got the bike secured and crossed the street to the ball park I only had 20 minutes to gain entry, grab a beer and a dog and make my way to my seat high above.


While waiting in line to get into the stadium I got to check out the new statue for hall of famer Ken Griffey Jr.


On my way in I took this shot from where the well heeled folks sit.


And the perch my 1/2 price ticket got me.  It was actually very pleasant, a mild 65 degrees, a good crowd for a Monday night but not jam packed.  A beer and a dog and the crack of the bat.

downtown skyline with the space needle peaking out on the far left


Olympic range before sunset
One benefit of being on the 3rd deck of a downtown ball park are the views.  The home town 9 ending up winning 6-2, on the back of two, two run home runs from catcher Mike Zunino.  This kid was struggling so badly at the plate to start the season that he was sent to AAA, but since he came back he's been so hot that they are starting to call this month Junino.

photo credit Washington Post
I felt comfortable enough with a 4 run lead entering the 9th to start making my way back to the garage, I left the stadium with the Tiger's down to their last out and by the time I had my bike out of the garage folks were streaming out of the ball park with the contented glow of a hometown win.  I walked my bike a few blocks away from the stadium and towards my old bike route, I wouldn't have been able to get there by car but as a pedestrian/cyclist  I was able to thread my way to it.  My old cycling route follows the road that runs past the port of Seattle, during the day its busy with big trucks but at 10:30 at night its pretty deserted and it has a real honest to goodness bike lane.


Since I knew I would be coming home in the dark I took my "night helmet", its a bit Rube Goldberg but it allows me to run lights fore and aft on both the bike and my helmet and it gives me light where ever I point my head, I just have to remember to keep my head pointed slightly down so I don't blind folks.  I had forgotten how fun it is to ride on a warm June evening at 10:30 pm, much different than a chilly, rainy, pitch black ride at 7:00 pm in February.  It was so mild I took off my light rain shell as I knew I would be heating up climbing the incline on the bridge.  Back in my kinda go fast roadie days I could big ring this incline but tonight I was lucky to be all alone so I could paper boy it (zig zag) in my lowest gear to the top.


Since I have a bus pass, no climbing chops currently and the last mile was mostly up hill I decided to go multi-modal for the end of the trip as the bus literally delivers me to my front door.  That gave me about 13.5 km of riding this evening and it also gives me an excuse to seek out another game so I can bike door to door next time.  As it was it felt good to sit out on my balcony after I got home, among the bike projects lol, and bask in the warm glow of a goal accomplished.  Ride, Eat Cracker Jacks,Smile, Repeat.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Parts bike or folly? - 1984 Nishiki Cascade MTB


I was looking in the CL bike parts section for 26" tires when I stumbled across a listing for a Nishiki Cascade mountain bike for $11 with the note that the wheels were probably worth $10.  The two things that caught my immediate attention where the Bullmoose  bars and the SunTour thumb shifters.  New Bullmoose bars from VO or Nitto can go for $80-$150.


The listing was pretty close and I figured so long as the bars weren't stuck it was worth it, as it turned out the bike was being sold by a nice old gentleman who had a cool set up; a detached garage with a wood-stove, a passel of Mountain bikes to work on,  and the faint whiff of cigar smoke.  Basically  the neighborhood grandpa who tinkers on bikes.  I think I know what I want to be when I grow up.

help me I've rusted and I can't get out of this seat tube!

Its good that I was only after parts because this bike has some issues:

  • exhibit A is the stuck seat-post
  • exhibit B is the rough shape of the paint; thin spots, worn spots, black over spray on the gray paint. the only frame I have had that was rougher was the curb find Raleigh GP
  • exhibit C - rust, not full blown but alot of parts are going to need a rust bath. and 
  • exhibit D is the canti brakes in pieces in a baggie only one spring when there should be 4 etc.  
Again its good I only want the cockpit.....


And then I spotted the lovely biplane fork and I started to get stupid ideas, this bike is not lugged, its an early tig welded frame but that fork is so cool.  When I was looking for information on the Miyata Trail runner from the previous post I stumbled across the excellent blog of Big Dummy Daddy (note he rides a Surly Big Dummy and he's a Dad) who had rebuilt a Miyata Ridge Runner and as a teen owned the exact year and model Trail runner that I had acquired.  Since he grew up riding MTB in the late 80s he is a wealth of info on them.  When the internet failed to come up with much info, I reached out to him about the 84 Nishiki and he didn't disappoint.  He pointed me to a great thread on Bike forums about Nishiki serial numbers.  Thanks BDD!


That info helped me figure out that this frame was built by Giant in March of 1984, I was a Sophomore at Oregon State University at that time with no idea I would become a bike nerd.


Worse case scenario the seat post stays stuck and the frame needs to go the great scrap yard in the sky, there are still bits that make this bike worth the price of admission.  The aforementioned SunTour thumbies and nice dia-compe levers and the Bullmoose  bars that will need a rust bath.


A Sugino GT triple crank with normal chain rings in case I don't like the biopace oval rings on the Miyata and pedals I like better than the ones on the Miyata, I need to see if they are serviceable.




SunTour front and rear derailleurs that at first glance appear to just need a good cleaning and servicing.


There is also a nicely crafted SunTour seat clamp quick release.  And lastly a wheel-set that appears mismatched but serviceable and might recoup my costs by themselves.  We'll see how it plays out, I am hoping I can deal with the seat post and pass this frame along to someone who will appreciate it and get it back on the road, I like to think of those biplane forks swooping down the roads and trails again.

The next few weeks should be interesting from a bike perspective:

  • Tonight hopefully riding to a baseball game Mariners vs Tigers at Safeco field
  • Saturday riding with all three of my siblings, I have ridden with all of them individually as an adult but I'm not sure I ever rode with them all at once as a kid and we haven't had a group ride as adults so it should be fun on the nice flat Centennial trail in Spokane, WA.
  • And in the second week of July I will be house sitting at my old house with access to a garage and a bench vise and I have dreams and intent to do alot of bike work and maybe free up some space around the apartment.  

With any luck there will be plenty to blog about in the coming weeks,  Ride.Smile.Repeat.