Monday, December 21, 2009

Northgate Ride

Ride to Northgate Mall to buy Christine a GPS for Christmas.

1559 feet of elevation gain.

29 miles.


Brakes and brake levers came for Brimstone today. I installed the friction shifters and brake levers on Musette to get a feel for them. The canti brakes will of course have to wait for the Sam Hillborne.

Bicycle Repair Man

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Bar end shifters from Velo Orange came yesterday. Rivendell also has them but they are charging $88 bucks as compared to Velo's $60.These are friction "silver" shifters from Diatech.

Friday, December 18, 2009


I ordered parts for the Hillborne yesterday. Cantilever brakes, brake levers & bar end shifters. A local bike shop mechanic says I can put up to 48mm tires on my current rims. I'm thinking 700 x 38. Not sure if I want some nobbies or smooth.

Also got word from Rivendell that the next shipment of Hillbornes will have double top tubes for my size, 60cm.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Green River Trail Closure
Elevation Graph is 1 way.

So, having the week off, I committed myself to making a 40 mile ride yesterday even though everything seemed to be against me. First it was raining but I knew it would be raining a lot more in the next few days. Then I got downstairs and forgot my helmet. No biggie. Back up stairs. The plan was West Seattle to the Green River Trail and then back up the Interurban Trail.

Lucky for me I only got a block away before I remembered my map. Not so lucky for me I was about 5 miles away when I realized I had no cell phone. Now this wouldn't have bothered me to much, in fact I wouldn't carry my cell phone with me nearly as often as I do if it wasn't for my wife. I almost quit the ride right then and there. Fortunately the Green River trail passes right by our credit union's main office and they have a courtesy phone. OK I can leave my wife a message and she'll know why I'm not returning any of her texts or calls.

Things started looking up. The rain stopped. I was able to shed a few layers of clothing. I made it though all the industrial zones and freeways and was now on the peaceful Green River. Just then, as I entered Southcenter, the trail was closed. Why is it closed? They used it to build a 3 foot wide sand bag wall in case the river floods. That was the last straw. My 40+ mile ride turned into barley 30.

I did get a few shots of a beaver. Something I never saw in the wild in Arizona.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


I called up Rivendell and put down $300.00 to reserve a Sam Hillborne frameset today. Their next shipment is due in Feburary/March. I wonder if I can rack up 10,000 miles on Musette by then. She's got a little over 9000 now.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Derailleurs and Chain Wrap Capacity

Back on November 12th I posted about chain size and how mine changed in relation to the different chain rings/rear cassette I installed on Musette. See - Chain Length

In my continuing drive train saga I learned about the derailleur cage and chain wrap capacity. Chain wrap capacity is how much chain the derailleur will take up as you shift through the gears. Sheldon Brown has a good article on it here - The derailleur cage is that long part on the rear derailleur through which the chain passes containing the two little pulleys (jockey and tension pulleys). From my understanding, generally the longer the cage the more chain wrap capacity your derailleur has.

I could have got into trouble with this when I replaced my small chain ring and the rear cassette as this gave me a greater range. Fortunately I didn't exceed my rear derailleur's capacity. I was, however, having problems with the jockey pulley riding on the largest gear (28t) in the cassette. This wasn't so much a problem in riding/shifting but would eventually prematurely wear out the jockey pulley. Normally the "B" screw on the back of the derailleur could be adjusted for this but mine was already at it's limit. I found a solution (Downgearing Your Bike) in Sheldon Brown's site. Use a larger screw or take the "B" screw out, turn it over, and screw it in again. You gain the added few millimeters from the head of the screw. I'm sure there is a limit to this in the derailleur but it worked for me.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Next Bike? - Touring Bike? - Country Bike?

I've been thinking a lot lately about my next bike and I finally started saving to make it happen. I should probably have enough by next summer, if not sooner. I think I've narrowed it down to a Rivendell Sam Hillborne.

The Sam Hillborne is sort of a step down from Rivendell's Atlantis, their true touring bike. They refer to it as "country bike" and it has all the things I'm looking for. Strong lugged steel frame, many brazons for racks/water bottles, wide fork/frame clearance for fatter tires and room for fenders.

It's interesting how my preferences in a bike have changed over the last 10-15 years. In my 20's and early 30's I owned a Specialized Hardrock Ultra. I wasn't into commuting or long rides. I guess I was more of a trail guy. In truth the bike sat around and didn't get rode that much like most bikes of most people. I probably didn't get more then 500 miles on it.

Now we move to my early 30's It was in 2002 that I decided I was going to start riding to work. I quickly noticed people on road bikes zipping past me and figured I needed something different. I remembered the junker $50, garage sale, road bikes I had as a kid and went in search of one. New not garage sale. But, of course, I was limited in money so I settled on a steel frame, entry level Fuji. Still much faster then the Hardrock. I loved it. Actually this turned out to be a really good bike for me. At least the frame, lasting until this very day with 9000+ miles on it.

I rode most every day, through the summer, to work. I tried to ride through the rainy season but just couldn't do it. I wasn't prepared mentally and the bike physically. The following year, 2003, I picked up commuting again and managed to ride through the winter. Most days at least. I was liking the bus less and less. Now at that time we were still a 2 car family and I would treat myself to driving to work on many days when I felt I just couldn't ride even though this meant paying for parking. This is also the time when I finally picked up some fenders for the bike. Growing up in Arizona fenders on a bike seemed pretty sissy but just like fashion the more I saw of them the more they became "normal". Once I got a pair, managed to cut, fit, and jerry-rig them in that bike's tight frame clearances I loved them. Of course this meant my tire size was now fixed to a low volume, high pressure 700 x 28c or smaller but that didn't matter at the time. I dreamed, occasionally, of lighter faster bikes. Carbon fiber, aluminium, titanium.

2004 we moved back to Arizona. Rides were few and far in between. Work was to far for commuting by bike. Suburbia. Sprawl. Traffic moving at high speeds. Phoenix. It was not a bike friendly place. The bike mostly hung upside-down in the garage.

In 2006 we returned to Seattle. I started commuting daily, by bike again. I sold my car in the move. One car between us now. Picked up a rear rack for the bike. Wore out a lot of parts. Learned a lot about bike repair. Learned how easy bike repair is when you know how. Changed my body position on the bike which made longer rides more enjoyable. While there are many times I do enjoy it I became less concerned with riding fast. This is also when I started to really see the bike as a thing of sustainability, freedom and a money saver.

Last December I rode to work in the snow. While everyone else was trying to figure out how to get to work it was, although a little challenging, business as usual for me. The lower West Seattle Bridge was a little slippery and I realized again how beneficial a fatter tire would be.

A buddy and I did a few "long" day rides in the more rural areas outside of Seattle this summer and I am now mesmerized with the idea of bicycle camping. Just riding out some rail trail or logging road, into the mountains and camping overnight. And just today I lowered my tires to the minimum pressure. Usually I ride the max. What a difference in comfort.

Camping, back country roads, higher volume lower pressure tires, the ability to haul stuff, comfort and a change in mental attitude have brought me to the Sam Hillborne. I'm going to purchase the frame/fork and transfer many of the components over from Musette. It should make for some good posts.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Brooks - Break-In

I've rode 2286 miles now on my Brooks B-17N and the saddle is still in great shape. While the saddle never really felt bad to me it wasn't until about 1000 miles of riding that I really noticed it feeling "broke in". It was a sunny summer day and I hopped on Chromie for a change of pace. Half way to work I remember thinking, "This saddle (a Bianchi saddle) actually doesn't feel as good as my Brooks.

I never did any of the crazy break in remedies I've seen on the web such as soaking your Brooks in oil or using leather conditioners other then Proofide which Brooks recommends. I only use Proofide about once every 3 months now. Some people complain that Proofide costs to much for so little but it only takes a tiny amount to do the whole saddle. My tin is still almost full and will probably last me many years. I weigh 175 pounds and in 2000 miles I've never needed to adjust the seat tension although I did add a few laces to the bottom. Of course I don't store my saddle (or bike for that matter) in the rain and if it is left out, while stopping somewhere, I cover the saddle.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Chain Length

I was browsing through my Park Tool Big Blue Book on Bicycle Repair and I came across a section on chain length. (See Park Tool Article Chain Length Sizing.) Low and behold, when I last replaced my drive train, I had cut my chain too long. Even though I matched it up link for link with my old chain I didn't take into consideration that the smallest sprocket on the new rear cassette and the smallest new chain ring were, in fact, smaller then before and thus the chain would need to be resized.

Park Tool Website

Monday, November 09, 2009

Leather Bike Bags

Back in July I fabricated some leather bike bags/panniers for Musette. The first image shows the leather, freshly purchased, rolled up on the back rack (as I wait for the lower West Seattle bridge to close again) where it would soon be sitting in a lightly different form day in and day out. The next images show various stages of construction and the final product on the rack and hanging with the shoulder strap attached. All attachment points are snaps for quickly removing the bag while the bike is parked somewhere.

What about leather and Seattle rain? I oiled the leather well. As long as it gets to dry out after being rained on and treated once in a while with a leather conditioner it will be fine. In fact the color of the dye actually blended more evenly after it was rained on. I wouldn't leave it soaking wet for a long time as I suspect mold would grow. My bikes/bags are stored inside.

The best part is I get compliments on it most every day.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Delta Leonardo Da Vinci Wall Rack

Over Halloween weekend we re-arranged our living room. In the process we removed one of two bookshelves and wall mounted my two bikes with the Delta Leonardo Da Vinci Wall Rack. Leonardo Da Vinci wall rack is a kit from Delta, Leonardo being the actual hook the bike hangs from and Da Vinci being the lower wall mounted tray for the second tire. Both parts can be purchased separately or together for about $20. They're rated to hold bikes up to 40 pounds. I've heard they don't work well with fat mountain bike tires but they are great for my 700c. This whole process freed up a bunch of space in our tiny, 1 bedroom condo. The bikes sort of divide our living room from the entry way and at the same time don't. The energy in the whole room is better although the photo doesn't do it justice.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chain Wear

I picked up a chain wear indicator from Park Tool today for 10 bucks. As you may know replacing your chain before it gets to worn will add miles to the life of your gears. Cassette's and Chain ring's cost quite a bit more money. I can pick up a chain for $20. The tool is easy and takes seconds to use.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Spoke Replacement

I replaced the front wheel, on Musette, a while back (Musette's Front Wheel). Today I replaced the broken spoke in the old wheel. As I stated before I've deemed it not strong enough for me while braking hard downhill but if something disastrous happened to the front wheels on my bikes this one could come in handy as a spare. (Provided nothing disastrous happened to me at the same time.)

Now as I recall the old wheel was so out of true when that spoke broke that I could hardly ride the bike. It kept rubbing on the fork like a brake. When I replaced this 55 cent spoke and tightened it up the wheel came right back into true. Almost perfect on both the lateral and radial. And this with no truing stand. It was easy. I could do this on the road. I'm probably going to invest in a few spokes as spares and keep them in my bags. I know I could definitely fix and true up a wheel enough to get me home from somewhere.

Interesting note both spokes that broke on that wheel are almost right next to each other.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Traffic Signal Sensor

I don't know what they do in other cities but if you're riding around Seattle and you get stuck at a light that won't change look for the "T" on the pavement. That is where you should place your wheel. The traffic signal will then detect that you are there and change in your favor. I have to admit I've seen these around Seattle but it wasn't until another cyclist pointed it out that I knew what it was for. He told me that the light would never change for his wife. She called the city and they came out and painted the "T". Since I've seen them at several lights and they've always worked. I've also seen an alternative mark that looks like a little bicycle with a vertical dash above and below it.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

West Seattle, Vashon, Tacoma, Gig Harbor, Southworth

Friday the 14th we I did another hilly one. This time I rode down to the Fauntleroy ferry in West Seattle, where I met up with Tim again. From there we took the ferry to Vashon Island and rode straight across to the Tahlequah - Point Defiance ferry. This ferry, the Rhododendron, is one of my favorite ferries of Washington because of it's querky little size.

Once in Point Defiance we rode through a small part of Tacoma and across the Tacoma narrows bridge. The newly built bridge, next to Gertie, has a wide lane for bikes and pedestrians.

From here we wound our way up through Gig Harbor to Chantal's house. Chantal, our friend and co-worker drove us into downtown Gig Harbor. A place we would soon discover we would be riding through. It's a small town with some charm left in it, for a few more years anyway. Best buys, fashion clothing, and Barnes & Nobles are moving in fast. By the water, I probably refueled the 3000 calories I would burn off today on a BBQ burger and sweet potato fries.

After lunch we played with the kitty's for a while, said goodbye and started our way North to Southworth. This was likely the best part of the ride for me. Once we climbed a few hills we had a beautiful forested, country ride on the Crescent Valley Drive with little traffic and smooooooth roads. A long beautiful downhill followed this. Of course then came the hill from hell (11% grade) in Olalla. We took a short rest near the top of this hill where we could see West Vashon and the ride we did just last week. Likely the same area where I ate all those blackberries. I was proud of the hills we conquered. My knees, a few days, later are not.

After a few more hills we were racing down Banner Road. Banner to Sedgwick. Sedgwick to the Southworth ferry and a sweet boat ride home.

See the route -

Total elevation gain 3900 feet.

3313 Calories
45% from fat
Max heart rate - 174
Average Heart rate - 133

Max speed - 44 mph
Time - ??? 3 - 4 hours?
Average speed - 12 mph
Distance - 46.02 miles
Odo - 8378.1

Friday, August 07, 2009

Vashon/Maury Island's

I was getting a little bored with the Alki beach/Burke Gilman rides and looking for something new so Tim and I took a ferry over to Vashon Island for a leisurely ride through rural farmland, forest and beaches. One nice benefit of this is the short (about 2 miles) ride from my house to the ferry. The original plan was a pretty straight shot across Vashon, over a small isthmus to Maury Island, out to the Point Robinson light house and back but we felt so good we rode over to the Westside highway during the ride back.

First image is the elevation profile. We climbed several times from sea level to about 300-400 feet totaling about 3500 feet of elevation gain. Of course this made for frequent downhills. YEA! Second is of the Point Robinson Lighthouse. Third is Tim just before a short unpaved area and right after climbing probably one of the most steepest hills I've ever done.

We didn't bring much in the way of food. I had a little tiny Cliff bar and we ate donuts on the ferry over so at some point along the West Side Highway an incredible hunger came over me. Unfortunately this is the side of the island where there is no grocery or cafes. Fortunately nature provided miles and miles of ripe blackberries of which I ate about a pint or more.

You can see more photos of our ride here -

The total mileage for the ride, including the ride to and from the ferry was 38.34. Maximum speed was 41.0 mph. Average speed was 10.2 mph.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I don't do Carbon Fiber

Why don't I do carbon fiber? I mean besides the fact I can't afford it? Rivendell bikes sums it up pretty well here - Here are some quotes from the site -

Failure mode is one of those "more important factors." It is how suddenly failure occurs after the first crack, hole, or gouge. Nobody talks about it, but it's really, really, really important.

Materials that fail fast are said to fail "catastrophically." Of all materials used in bikes, none fails more catastrophically than carbon fiber, and none fails more slowly than steel. You want your bike stuff to respond to trauma by bending and denting, not shattering and snapping. Metals tend to do that. And once that's covered, you want plenty of time and lots of warning between the onset of failure (a crack, for instance) and total material separation. Steel is the first place winner here, too. Reparability is desirable, too, and steel wins that one, also.

Another quality to consider in a frame material is how well it ages; the degree to which it stays strong as it gets old, and environmental stress in the form of ozone, ultraviolet radiation, salt air, and temperature extremes affect it.

In this regard, metals are far superior to rubber, plastic, and carbon fiber. The resins used to hold the layers of carbon fiber together degrade with exposure to ultraviolet.

Defect tolerance is the ability of a material to be safe even when defective.

It matters because perfect quality control is impossible, no matter how white-coated engineers in sterile rooms you have monitoring production. Some bug or booger or bubble will work its way in, and then what?

Then you want a material that maintains its integrity.

The least defect-tolerant material used in bikes is carbon fiber. (And most carbon fiber comes from China, as a matter of fact.) The most defect-tolerant is steel.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Swiss Army Bicycle Trailer

Riding home the other day, past the local lumbar yard, I saw a man loading some wood on a bike trailer. I stopped and talked to him a while about it for he didn't just have some short 2 x 4's. He was loading up something like four or five 2 x 4 by 10's and maybe a 2 x 10 that was 16 feet long. I, of course, thought this was great.

But as we got to talking what I found more fascinating was the bike trailer itself. It was a Swiss Army bicycle trailer designed to carry a stretcher. The Swiss Army had a bicycle brigade/unit (as well as many other armies) up until, I believe, the mid nineties. The man picked it up from an army surplus for about $400. Although quite heavy, the trailer was obviously very strong and could hold a lot. I found some photos of one of these trailers online. I believe it might be from the same man's flickr account.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Surly Pugsley

I just came across this on the web and had to post about it. While I would probably never own one of these, this the Surly Pugsley is quite an innovative bike. I'm not even sure Surly still makes them.

Designed to go anywhere, through sand, snow into the back wilds. Here's a quote from Sheldon Brown's website, "Who should ride Pugsley? Hunters of all types (animal, mineral, or vegetable), beach/desert riders, snow/ice riders, wilderness explorers, and anybody else in need of a bike that will provide extra stability, traction, and floatation when the terrain gets loose and unpredictable. If you fall into any one of those categories, you should ride a Pugsley."

And this, which I really love, "Since this bike is intended to be capable of serious wilderness travel, Surly decided to make the wheels interchangeable! The front fork is designed to accept a 135 mm rear hub. The usual setup is to provide a singlespeed rear hub for the front, with a single sprocket. Thus, if you're off in the wilds of northern Saskatchewan and you prang your rear derailer, you can shorten the chain, swap wheels, and ride home in a single gear."

Read more about it here -

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Commute record - to work.
  • Time - 19:01
  • Average speed - 18.6 mph
  • Top speed - 42 mph
  • Distance 5.94 miles
  • Odometer - 8053.3
1 minute and 14 seconds faster then the previous record! Had the wind at my back and carried no baggage, not even a tool kit. Dropped down Genesee instead of Yancy. Did about 22-24 mph up E. Marginal Way. Cut in towards Pioneer Square at Main. Took Cherry from 1st to 3rd. Chain fell off at about 3rd and Union but I had to stop for the light anyway. It's amazing, just a month ago I thought I could never match 20:46 again.

Monday, July 13, 2009

700 x 25c

I changed Musette's front tire back down from a 700 x 28c to a 25c. I think this is the sweet spot for this bike. With such a tight front fork the 25c doesn't rub on the front fender but still has some substance to it.

Friday, July 10, 2009


I just had to tighten the bindings on my clipless pedals. Over the last 2 months or so I've pulled my right cleat out of the binding like 3 times. Today was the kicker. I was sprinting up Pike. I took the middle lane because it was open and being out there I wanted to keep up with traffic. I got up to a moderate speed, shifted, stood up on the pedals, got the bike rocking back and forth and it happened again. Things became a little squirrelly as my upper body kept rocking the bike back and forth and my legs weren't spinning anymore to balance it. Adrenaline went up, time slowed down while I some how managed not to go down. Anyway, I did not want that to happen again so the allen wrench came out and the tension went up. Five clicks clockwise.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Yet another new record time riding to work. This time by a significant 29 seconds.
  • Time - 20:15
  • Average Speed - 16.6 mph
  • Top Speed - 34.5 mph
  • Distance 5.65 miles
  • Odometer 8004.4
Although there were times I thought my heart was going to explode. The stoplights were actually nice rest stops. I had a light to moderate tailwind. Also it was on this ride that I rolled over Musette's odometer past 8000 miles.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Musette's Front Wheel

While I've had my back wheel rebuilt 2 times the original front Fuji wheel has lasted almost (20 miles short) of 8000 miles. I've only needed to replace 1 spoke, until yesterday. I was riding down a steep hill, in traffic, which meant a lot of braking. Just at the point where I was about to turn off I had to come to a complete stop and that weight was just too much strain for the front wheel to handle. Boink, broken spoke. Now that I think about it the 1st time a spoke broke I had also come to a quick stop on a slight downhill. The wheel was warped pretty bad. It kept hitting the front fork and acting like a brake. I started to carry the bike but that got old real quick so I got back on and just powered through. After work I carried my wheel up to Velo to get the spoke fixed and just decided to replace the wheel.

The new wheel cost me $100. It's hand built and has 36 spokes as opposed to 32 so it should be stronger then the old wheel. It feels very close in weight. It's composed of a Campy hub and a Mavic rim although I know nothing about the spokes.

Monday, June 22, 2009

New time riding to work as of Thursday 18th -
  • Time - 20:44
  • Average Speed - 16.2 mph
  • Top Speed - 34 mph
  • Distance - 5.61
  • Odo - 7916.2

This time I set out, from the time I left home, with the intent on beating that unattainable previous record. I did so by 2 fraking seconds. I believe with a strong tailwind or no traffic I could smoke this one too. I hit a lot of stoplights. It seems like if I can ride home in 23 minutes I should be able to blow this one away. Traffic and the long slight climb of 1st Ave must be what's getting me. If I could beat 1st Ave I could beat the time.

Friday, June 12, 2009

I blew away my old record time riding home from work.
  • 5.68 miles
  • Max speed of 24 mph
  • Time - 23:27
  • Average speed 14.4 mph
  • Odometer - 7851.5 mile

I had a slight tail wind down Marginal Way which became a slight headwind along Spokanne. It was blowing from the West/NorthWest. I powered it up the lower West Seattle bridge and stayed in the middle chain ring up Yancy. Rolling up Avalon I stayed in the 10-11 mph range instead of my usual 7-9.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Seattle to Woodinville ride.

Yesterday, bunch of friends and I did a ride from Seattle to the Red Hook Brewery in Woodinville. Here is the route I took - The elevation profile is for a 1 way trip then the whole thing was done in reverse. I started from home, in West Seattle, went over the West Seattle Bridge, up the waterfront, right between Queen Anne & Magnolia, across the Ballard Bridge to the Burke-Gilman trail. There I met up with two friends and we continued on to Gas Works Park where we picked up two more. The last person in our group met us in the U-District. We continued on Burke-Gilman to the Sammamish river trail which took us to Red Hook Brewery.

At Red Hook we did a real nice tour of the brewery and ate lunch. Good food, good beer. Try the Redhook BBQ burger. Yum. The return trip was basically the same route in reverse. I took it real easy the last few miles and my knees feel pretty good. Here is what my bike computer read at the end -
  • Odo 7811.3 miles
  • Ride time 5:32
  • Average speed 11.3
  • Distance 63.02 miles
  • Max speed 28.5
And here is what my Heart Rate Monitor read -
  • About 3050 calories burned, 55% from fat
  • Max heart rate 172 bpm or 93%
  • Average heart rate 119 bpm or 64%
It was a good time. I don't ride much out of West Seattle & downtown and it is a shame because it is so beautiful here in the summer.