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.