Monday, May 30, 2016

A Very Respectable Effort And Finish By The Solo Siblings

John and I signed up to ride the 24 Hour Race solo this year, he in the 50-59 group and I in the new 60+ group. (After crewing for me last year, John decided to take a shot at going solo. Yay, John!) Our sister, Barb, volunteered to crew for us. 

We discussed camp decorations and decided to go with a 'Sofa King Solo Siblings" theme involving large posters of ourselves. We were also going to bring a sofa out but decided we would be too tired after the race to want to mess with it. Over the weekend I learned there are inflatable couches so I made a note for next year.

Frank Benish and I were the only entrants in the 60+ solo category. He was camped across the road from us. Cosmic Miller was his support crew. If you know Cosmic then I don't have to say anything. If you don't know Cosmic, he's the guy you want on your side if you want a high energy person taking care of all your mechanical issues and boosting your morale to take your mind off the pain. Cosmic was kind enough to help out me and John since we were neighbors and he was there and he had the time. He saved my bacon when we noticed I had a nail in my back tire. He got one of his and swapped it out for me for which I was extremely grateful.

Frank is quite the competitor and he took off fast on the first lap. And he kept up the pace. When I reached five laps, he had six. But he was going through some issues that I thought would slow him down. He was throwing up and he had a bad crash on Devil's Down. My 4:00 am lap went well and I fueled up real good. Cosmic was chatting the whole time I was there and was really emphasizing having fun. I took off and as I got into the lap I decided I would two laps without a break. Nobody saw me go by. After I didn't show Barb and Cosmic got to wondering about me. They went down to the timing tent and saw what I did. I knocked out two laps in under three hours but I emptied my gas tank in the process. Cosmic was pumped that I was making a race out of it. He told me that Frank had taken an hour break and I had caught up with him. So I ate a bunch more and headed out again hoping Frank was too tired, sick, and beat up to keep up the pace he set. But it was not to be. Sleep deprived people can't count very well and I was still a lap down. I thought my back-to-back laps were 11 and 12. They were actually 10 and 11. Regardless, Frank was not about to let up. He finished with 14 laps and three crashes. There are no photos but he was a bloody mess when he came in off his last lap. The man is a competitor.

Barb was a real trooper looking after me and John. I think she may have caught an hour nap in the night. All three sleep-deprived siblings were a mess when the awards ceremony started around 2:00 pm.

John and I were going to throw our posters into the dumpster. For some reason, Cosmic wanted John's and Frank wanted mine. I imagine they'll be showing up at some future bike race.

John's goal was to do ten laps (150 miles) and he reached it. Mine was to do 14 and I came up short with 12 (180 miles). That back-to-back emptied my gas tank and I was a sluggard after that. But I kept rolling the entire time until 10:30 am when I realized I just didn't have enough left in me to go around again.

Neither John nor I had a serious crash. My front tire slid out on a lose turn but I went down in dirt so the impact was not abrasive.

At base camp before the race.
The larger than life posters we made of ourselves were a big hit.

Falling in at the end of the pack for the start.
We're in it for the long game so there's no rush.

 John came in so hot from his second lap that he blew right by the camp.

Fueling up with some apple crisp that Barb made while Cosmic looks on.

Frank Benish.

John coming up The Pipeline.

Me coming out of Little Vietnam.

John heading out for lap #9.

Out of gas after 12 laps.

 The Sofa King Solo Siblings post race.

John and Barb catching a snooze before the awards ceremony.

On the podium with Frank.

Cosmic and Frank

To the victor belongs the spoils...

...but it's not like I left empty handed.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Rock Hopper Lives

I bought this Specialized Rock Hopper back in '92 in Montgomery, Alabama. It was seen a lot of wear and tear. It was my commuter for many years. I rode it on the self-supported tour Geoff and I did across Washington. About three or fours years ago I hung it up in storage after a couple of rough winters as my ice bike. (I still have my home-made studded tires.)

I've been thinking about bringing it back to life for a couple of years now.

Since I had a whole pound of powder and the color was just right, I had the frame powder coated along with the Haulin Colin porteur rack on the Elephant NFE. I had a lot of new components installed and now it's looking and riding really nice. I'll probably bring it with me for the 24 Hour Race and maybe do one lap with it just for fun.

Biking Everywhere

One of the great things about bike commuting in Spokane is that you can change up your route to include some beautiful countryside. It makes going to work so much more enjoyable.And it beats the hell out of racing to the next red light.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Sewing Project - Part 1

After reviewing a couple of sites where some people described how they made their own frame bags, I decided I wanted to do that for the Elephant NFE. It's cool to make your own gear. but the primary reason is I want the colors to match the bike.

Now the last time I operated a sewing machine with any sense of skill or confidence, Richard Nixon was about six months away from resigning. So, yeah, it's been a while. Last week I wandered into a Joann's Fabrics store where some very experienced ladies, some employees and some customers, answered my questions and helped me out. Regardless of how well they explained things to me I still had to be lead everywhere as if I was a blind man. But I got some cheap material to practice with, some thread, extra needles, and other sewing stuff. Fortunately, Kathy has an extra machine and all the cutting tools so I didn't have to pick up anything expensive.

I put a sheet of cardboard next to the triangle on the NFE, marked it off, and cut it down to size, giving me a basic template. Taking note of where the bottle cage bolts and cables are, I marked the template to show where the velcro straps would go. I used the template to cut the material and create both side pieces. Then I cut a long 3-inch wide piece for the part that fits against the bars. Last of all I cut strips of material to simulate the velcro straps.

Now comes the fun part. Between the diagram on the sewing machine, my failing memory, and the Internet, I managed to thread the machine. Okay, I'm on the road to success. I grabbed a couple of scraps, sewed a few stitches, and adjusted the machine until I got the length of the straight stitch I wanted. Then I started sewing the "velcro strips" onto the outer edge part. I had marked the placement using the cardboard template as a guide. After attaching all the strips on both sides of the outer piece, I attached one side and then the other. By the time I attached the second side I was feeling pretty confident on the machine.

I did not close up the outer edge piece because (1) it ended up too short so I couldn't if I wanted to, and (2) I would not have been able to turn the bag right side out. (You'll also notice I did not tackle the zipper. Baby steps, okay? All in good time.) I attached the bag to the NFE using paper clips to hold the straps in place. I was happy with the fit even though two straps were useless. The one that was supposed to wrap around the head tube was more in the corner so I cut it off. The strap you see at the very bottom of the triangle is supposed to connect to the seat tube.

Lucky for me, we have lots of experienced seamstresses in the family. I look forward to hearing from them.

Lessons learned:

You have to be very precise if you use a single piece for the outer edge part. I had two "straps that were way off target. So maybe I should use four pieces and use the seam allowance to align everything correctly.

If you don't have the needle in the correct position when you lift the foot and remove your work, you will break the thread and you'll have to thread the needle once again. That took me about 10-15 times before I figured that one out.

Monday, May 16, 2016

24 Hour Race Solo Competitors

The 24 Hour Race is less than two weeks away and so far there are 36 people racing solo. This is my third year going solo and I wouldn't have it any other way. There's something about it that really appeals to me that I can't fully explain. Most people chalk it up as crazy and I'm okay with that. Normal is boring.

My brother John is joining me this year. He's in the 50+ group along with Glen. They are in a crowded field. Several of us lobbied for a 60+ group and the organizers came through. Unfortunately, only two of us have signed up so far. On the bright side, we're both podium bound. But without more participation I think the category will go away like the fat bike category did.

Regardless, I'm looking forward to doing as many laps as I can. I did 13 my first year. Last year I was laid up with cramps because I didn't hydrate properly. So I wimped out in the morning and called it after 10 laps. I would like to do 14 this year. We'll see how my legs, my bikes, and my fortitude hold up.


Bike To Work Week Kickoff Breakfast

I was able to attend the breakfast this morning for only a short time. It looked like they were getting a good turnout. I missed out on the guest speaker(s) whoever they might have been.

Mountain Gear has been making pancakes for us every year now.
 And Roast House has been providing coffee all these years.

 Obligatory bike and Spokane Bikes photo.

No reserved parking needed.

My involvement in Bike to Work Week has been pretty limited this year. Work has made a lot of demands of my time. But I did manage to put together some commuter videos and I was pretty happy with the way they turned out.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Exploring And Training Ride

Today I decided to kill three birds with one stone. I needed to get a ton of saddle time (8 hours) in so my butt would be ready for the 24 hour race coming up in a couple of weeks. I wanted to see what other gravel roads are available in the foothills area south of Mount Spokane. and I wanted to get in a long ride on the NFE with a little bit of a load on it. I loaded up the Elephant NFE with six water bottles, four of which went into the porteur bag on the front and headed out.

As always, the three successive climbs on Kronquist were as enjoyable as ever. Just before the third climb I spotted a tom turkey in the road up ahead. He was spreading his wings and his tail feathers would spread and flash up and down. I was wondering what he was up to. As I got closer he took off and there sat a hen. Oops. Looks like I interrupted something. No doubt he'll track her down later.

Once I got to the foothills I took Temple to get over to Newman Lake. I stopped on Temple to have a snack not far from a house. The owner and his six dogs came outside. The dogs saw me pretty quickly and started making a ruckus. As they ran towards me their owner ran after them. Each time he called one by name that dog would pause. He'd call another one and while that dog paused the other would take off since the others were still running. So I had five big dogs and one little yipper advancing at me. I kept my cool and started talking nice to the dogs. The big ones chilled out, sniffed me, and headed back to the owner who had finally caught up with them. But the little dog wasn't having of of that. He kept making a fuss and wouldn't mind his master who then picked him up to take him back home.

The Summer Road only section of Temple is in such terrible shape that it's an absolute joy to pick your way through the washouts, rocks, fallen branches, etc. Heading east you're going downhill so you basically coast, steer and brake as needed. Since the NFE does not have front suspension the vibrations are transmitted all to well through the arms and shoulders as you're braking going downhill on really rough stuff. Fortunately, I was wearing good gloves.

Okay, so maybe this ravine on Temple isn't that rideable.

After reaching Newman Lake I rode around it for the first time ever. Starr and Muzzy roads have some fast traffic on them but not that much. I'm sure it picks up in the summer time. Studying the map before my ride, I saw there were a couple of gravel roads northwest of the lake. Cougar Lane made a large loop and it supposedly connected with Snowy Ridge Lane, which was also supposed to connect with East Foothills. It turned out Google maps was wrong. I rode up Snowy Ridge Lane thinking I was on Cougar Lane and ended up at a house. Three men standing next to a pickup truck looked at me with an "Oh, good, something else to talk about" look on their faces. I had the music cranking on my Bluetooth speakers so I rolled up to them with this Cajun fellow doing a cover of Dire Straits' Sultans of Swing. "We are the sultanes. We are the sultanes of swing." I dropped the volume and told them I thought I was lost. They agreed. Snowy Ridge Lane is essentially a long-ass driveway to this house. They told me how to get to Cougar Lane but that was signed as a private road. And the place where it looped back near the start goes through someone's driveway. So no new gravel roads there.

I got back on East Foothills and followed Norman back to Temple so I'd stay on gravel. Then I went back the way I came. Since I still had over three more hours of riding I rolled to the other side of town to Riverside State Park. The middle and high school mountain bike state championships were being held there and I was hoping they would be done so I could get some trail time in. They were just finishing up and were starting to break down the course. I took a leisurely route to Five Minute Hill and went up and down it five times. One thing I really like about the NFE is the gearing is perfect for climbing for me. Five Minute Hill seemed so easy each time.

I headed out of the park and went home via Indian Trail and Strong Road over Five Mile prairie. Going up Strong Road was an aggravating slog. It's dirt and gravel and it is washboarded like nobody's business. Trying to climb with the handlebars and saddle alternating going up and down was quite the exercise. What a relief to hit the pavement at the top. All in all it was a very good ride. I was out for almost nine hours and Strava says I was in the saddle for seven hours and forty minutes.

Monday, May 9, 2016

His Momma Is So Proud

It's so nice to see that Smokey's little brother finally found work.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Training Ride

I haven't taken enough time to train on the mountain bike and there's only three weeks until the 24 Hour race. I put in my longest day today. It went well and I felt good. Hopefully I can get a couple more long rides in over the next two weekends. I'm not out to set any records but I'd like to do as well as I did my first solo year. Thirteen laps would be good. Fourteen would be better.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Cathy Has Questions

In a Spokesman Review article, Cathy McMorris Rodgers said this about endorsing Donald Trump as the Republican Party nominee for President.

“Before I endorse him, I would like to have a conversation with him,” the fourth-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives said Thursday in an interview in Spokane. “I would like to ask him questions about some of the statements he’s made.”

She's mainly concerned with his comments about women. Here are some of the statements Donald Trump has made and not just about women.

I will build a great wall – and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me – and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words. 

When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re not sending you, they’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bring crime. They’re rapists… And some, I assume, are good people. 

Happy #CincoDeMayo! The best taco bowls are made in Trump Tower Grill. I love Hispanics! 

Our great African-American President hasn’t exactly had a positive impact on the thugs who are so happily and openly destroying Baltimore. 

If I were running ‘The View’, I’d fire Rosie O’Donnell. I mean, I’d look at her right in that fat, ugly face of hers, I’d say ‘Rosie, you’re fired. 

All of the women on The Apprentice flirted with me – consciously or unconsciously. That’s to be expected. 

One of they key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace. Good people don’t go into government. 

The beauty of me is that I’m very rich. 

I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her. 

My fingers are long and beautiful, as, it has been well documented, are various other parts of my body. 

My IQ is one of the highest — and you all know it! Please don't feel so stupid or insecure; it's not your fault. 

Look at those hands, are they small hands? And, [Marco Rubio] referred to my hands: 'If they're small, something else must be small.' I guarantee you there's no problem. I guarantee. 

Lyin' Ted Cruz just used a picture of Melania from a shoot in his ad. Be careful, Lyin' Ted, or I will spill the beans on your wife! 

The only card [Hillary Clinton] has is the woman's card. She's got nothing else to offer and frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don't think she'd get 5 percent of the vote. The only thing she's got going is the woman's card, and the beautiful thing is, women don't like her. 

I was down there, and I watched our police and our firemen, down on 7-Eleven, down at the World Trade Center, right after it came down. 

Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on. 

You're going to have a deportation force, and you're going to do it humanely," Trump said. "Don't forget, Mika, that you have millions of people that are waiting in line to come into this country and they're waiting to come in legally. And I always say the wall, we're going to build the wall. It's going to be a real deal. It's going to be a real wall.

There has to be some form of punishment."  (On women who seek abortions.)

If Hillary Clinton can't satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America? 

I would bring back waterboarding and I'd bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.

But Cathy's focus is mainly on the comments about women.

Donald, are you going to waterboard women?