Sunday, March 28, 2010

Baseball = Mountain Biking. Huh?

Attention please: Ignore my whiny comments about mainstream stick and ball sports kids and parents not digging bikes. During Ian's little league baseball game on Saturday, I wound up talking bikes with two parents - nice dads of kids on Ian's team.

One of the dads mentioned really digging riding years ago and even entered a few mountain bike races. He's been off the bike for awhile though. They live right in our neighborhood and when I mentioned hitting the local trails for a tour, he said why not tomorrow? Otherwise we'll just talk about it and never actually do it. Perfect! Father and son both planned to ride.

Another dad offered to join in as well, with son and daughter along for the fun. Wow, this should be cool. I goofed around with Ian, since he seems to be embarrassed that I talk bikes at baseball games. Now he thought it was pretty cool some of his team mates planned to ride with us. See, dad's not so weird after all.

Ride was planned for 9:30 AM on Sunday - today. Woke up to 47 degree temp and rain - not bad, but wet. One dad called at 8:30 AM to cancel, due to the weather. No problem, riding in the rain is not for everyone. Ian and I suited up and rode over to the local woods to check if the other family showed up. Sure enough, they did. Dad riding a clean older Klein, 10 year old son Jack on a new GT. They rode over to the park as well. Sweet!

Ian and I played tour guide and showed 'em the local trails. They've only seen a few of the trails and didn't realize the other areas linked together with singletrack. The rain stopped and the boys enjoyed the muddy trails - only really muddy in a few areas. The dad, John, mentioned they've been meaning to ride and explore the area, but this was the first time they checked it all out. I'm glad I gave them a little incentive to get the wheels rolling.

I think they had a blast, John said it's the most fun he's had in awhile. Jack seemed to really have a great time and did fantastic as a beginner. I showed him how to roll over some small log drops, lean back on downhills, and a few other pointers. He seemed to dig it all. Dad and son had a few falls, but no big deal and they laughed it off. Ian also seemed to enjoy riding with someone his own age for once.

In the end, they did a great ride - about 10 miles of singletrack - much more then I expected young Jack to pull off. We had a fun morning and I'm sure we'll ride with them again. I'd also bet we see the family that canceled out there eventually as well. Good stuff.

Jack on left. Check out that smile - think he had fun? Ian on right, nice job as tour guide.

Official stand by sign photo - required by state law. Say good bye to the Cannondale and Specialized - last rides for both.

Official sign photo number 2 - with me standing as stupid as possible. Thank you.

This ride spells the end of the line for my Cannondale and Ian's Specialized. Ian has outgrown his bike and makes it look like BMX bike now. The 24" wheel Specialized has been awesome over the last two years, will now be mothballed for future use by daughter Amy. My Cannondale as of tonight as been stripped to the frame, as per Project Access. Cannondale parts now being transferred over to Ian's new frame.....

Almost finished. This will be one sweet bike for a 10 year old. Ian is psyched - me too. Should be ready to hit the woods by the weekend. Oh yes.

With my Cannondale now a bare frame, what will I ride? After much debate, obsessive research and counting pennies, I pulled the trigger on the Sette Razzo 29er. Should be here in a few days. For the dough, a nice parts spec and a cheap way to enter the big wheel world of 29ers. I've read all positive reviews online and even if you tossed the frame and replaced it with a Niner EMD - still a great deal. Should provide some interesting blog posts down the road anyway. So more to follow.

On its way via UPS - please hurry, oh brown truck.

I'm still without a car, as mentioned previously. Did a little looking around this weekend, but not much. I'll need to get something eventually. Hitting the spring stride with 100+ commuting miles last week and the mountain bike ride today. Who needs cars?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What a Difference a Day Makes.....

Yesterday, sunny - nice. 41 degrees for ride to work, chilly, but felt great. Saw one bike commuter down for the count, appeared to play tag with a car at one of the street crossings on the Burke-Gilman Trail. Van stopped, fire trucks, bike laying on the ground, woman being loaded onto backboard - don't know what happened - hope she's okay.

Ride home, 65+ degrees - awesome weather. I stopped at REI and test rode a 2010 Scott Scale 29er. Medium frame fit me okay, would need to tweak it with a longer stem. Pretty good deal for $1500. Only obvious cheap-o parts are the Deore level crank and shifters - but they work just fine. Bike felt light on it's feet, steered nice and I could even wheelie it a bit - a good sign that a bike works for me. I left seriously considering buying one. It's on my list anyway.

I continued my ride home and felt pretty good. No rain means the Ibis carbon bike comes out to play. Been many weeks since I've ridden the carbon Ibis and it felt incredibly light and fast - though my spring legs do not. Still a great ride home.

Today, woke up to pouring rain, so drove in. My car has been running like crap for a few days. Missing at low revs, like it's only running on three cylinders - especially when cold. Then when warm, low on power and still not right. I threw some new plugs in the other night, hoping for a simple fix - didn't work. Next on the list was new plug wires, then after that a trip to the shop if needed. While picking up the spark plugs, also ordered new drive shaft assemblies to replace the incredibly clanking CV joints. I planned to waste a weekend soon replacing those.

Well, none of that will be needed. Driving home tonight, really running bad. Once the motor was hot, would idle - but rough. Low on power, but made it home okay. Once in my driveway, revved the motor to 7000 rpm (redline) and held it for a few seconds at a time - partly because I was annoyed at the situation, and partly looking for a magic cure of clearing out a fouled plug - dreaming I know. Hey, a boy can dream, can't he?

During one of the 7000 rpm bursts of stupidity, something toasted - complete with death metal thrashing sound. Add in flickering oil pressure light and burning smell. Game over. Motor done. Just what I need - excellent....

1992 Nissan Sentra SE-R with 117,000 miles now toast. I've owned it since new, a pretty long run, but not many miles. Add in the wasted CV joints, occasional slipping clutch, cracked windshield and faded paint - not worth fixing. Adios amigo.

Later, I popped the hood to check the oil level - just curious. I recently had the oil changed at my usual quick oil change joint. When I pulled the dipstick - there was no dipstick. The handle was there, but the dipstick itself appeared to be broken off. Sweet. Snapped off and discarded at oil change place? Or snapped off and drifted into motor? Only Santa knows for sure. He does watch everything you know.

My good neighbor Kim wandered over to inspect the carnage. We attempted to see if the dipstick was buried in the motor using a long magnet. Mission impossible. Even if the broken off dipstick drifted down, don't see how that would hit anything. No way that could get sucked in the crank - don't think so. Until my x-ray vision glasses are back from the shop, I'll never know.

With hood open, I started the motor to give Kim a taste of Death Metal. He ran for cover as I pegged it off redline hoping to give it a full spectacular death - maybe even with a burst of flame. With the thought of putting a rod through the block and coating my driveway with oil - I shut it down - to much all around laughter.

Hey, gotta see the humor in every situation. And what's funnier then trying to blow a motor up? Being a recovering gear head - that is included on my list stupid funny items.

Bike Hauler 1992 - 2010. R.I.P.

With my current project of building Ian up a bike, and/or me scoring a new one - not a great time to be looking for a car. Lovely wife said to go ahead with bike plan if needed - so I plan to. How cool is that? What a wife, eh?

I'll start looking for a decent used car in the $3000 - $5000 range. I don't really need anything super nice, since I ride more then drive. Still, with carting kids around - we need two cars at times.

Looks like I'll be riding to work everyday now - no choice - until the car situation is worked out. Good excuse to get those spring base miles in. Yeah, I hope.

Stay tuned for more details as they unfold.....

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Cleaning and Riding

Spring is in the air and a young man's fancy turns to, uh - riding. Yeah, that's the ticket. Took a day off work last Friday and squeezed in a 2 hour mountain bike - nice. Commuted to work today, usual 34 mile round trip - all good. Time to break out of the winter slump and get some real miles in. Oh yes.

Budding trees and runny noses also means spring cleaning, and my eBay garage sale continues - all proceeds to build up Ian's new bike, code named Project Access - which also may require dad (that be me) scoring a new bike to hand some parts down. An even trade of dough, old stuff for new stuff, is always cool for the family budget and allows guilt free upgrades - no?

This week's selling action......

Like new vintage wheelset. Performance hubs (appear to Sansin), Araya RM20 rims, 36 spoke, 130mm spacing, freewheel compatible - complete with Shimano 6 speed freewheel. Six speeds - count 'em. Sold !!

1999 Ellsworth Truth frame, Fox shock and Chris King headset. Bit of a bidding war on this one. Sold !!

Vintage Scott SE cantilever. SE stood for "Self Energizing" - as in some widget buried in that black Cylinder-O-Mystery drove the pads deeper into the rim - kind of sucked in by the wheel rotating. Anyway, a few watchers on eBay, a few questions - no sale. Listed once again, will see what happens.

Shoe covers for toe strap pedals. Total old school in new condition. Sold !!

Vintage "Deer Head" logo Shimano Deore derailleur. Sold !!

Vintage Ringle bottle cages from the '90s - remember these? 27 watchers on the item, a few questions about shipping - then no sale. Weird. Listed once again.

Funky vintage Campy crank. A few watchers, questions about shipping - then nada sale. I relisted for another week.

Very cool old school Suntour XC Pro pedals. My Craiglist sale from the other week fell through. Listed 'em on eBay. Sold !!

This week's eBay update now officially over. I'll pull a few other vintage goodies from the garage on list 'em on eBay in the next few days. It's been fun digging this stuff out and watching the online action.

I made a little progress on Project Access over the weekend. Cane Creek headset cups pressed into headtube, Shimano LX crankset and BB now in place. Ibis seatpost now installed, providing a safe clamping area. New chain and SRAM cassette await something to be attached to.....

Still a few parts missing, but not for long.

I've reached critical mass and want to get this project done. Final decision time, been dragging my feet - finish purchasing parts for Project Access - or pick up a bike for me and move my old XTR, Fox fork and Mavic ceramic rims to Ian's frame. Will decide by the end of week.

Being Family Guy is crimping my usual XTR level of fun - and I can live with that, since there are more important things screaming for dough. I've been looking at mid-priced level 29er hardtails, including a Scott Scale 29er today at REI. Not a bad deal for $1500, though the graphics are bit garish for my taste. XT rear derailleur, Rockshox Reba SL fork, mixed in with some lower level parts. It also felt a bit heavy.....

I've also been watching this on eBay. Used, cool Trek 69er built up with XT - nice bike. I've demo'd this when available from Trek - since discontinued. 26" rear wheel and 29" front wheel....

I've also spec'd out a Niner off the Colorado Cyclist site. Not a bad deal, though still well over $2000. I'd dig one of these, but don't think I can swing that at the moment....

I keep coming back to this, the Sette Razzo 29er. A killer deal for $1200. You could swap the frame out and still be ahead - though all good online reviews. Cheap enough to swap some of the stock parts out and still have a killer deal. Hundreds of dollars cheaper then similar spec'd bikes. Frame specs are slightly off for me though. I'd need a medium frame and run a long stem......

Enough bike pondering and wondering for today. I need to hit the sack - thanks for reading....

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Commuting 101 - I See The Light

Yesterday at work, some fellow bike commuters and I put on a little Dog 'N' Pony show about bike commuting. Partly a Bike Commuting 101 course and partly to start drumming up participants for the upcoming Commute Challenge in May. We've participated in this event for the last five years or so, with more folks signing up every year. It's a great event and we get loads of companies involved here in the Seattle area.

Even though our little shindig was advertised to 500 or so IT types, and we had close to 100 people signed up for the Commute Challenge last year, only about 15 people showed up for our little talk - complete with PowerPoint presentation. You know it's official when you fire up the projector and start clicking through PowerPoint slides.

We had fun away and it went well. We all brought our bikes into the building (usually frowned upon), talked about differences in design, how to carry clothes, be safe, pick a route, online resources - lots of info packed into an hour. Plus, in a sense we got paid to talk about bikes - can't beat that!

In April, we plan to hold a class on general maintenance and how to fix a flat. Being ex-bike mechanic dude, I volunteered for that as well. Should be fun.

Now that the clocks have changed once again with daylight savings - light after work. Yes! I left work at 6:00 PM and made it home before dark, no problem. Lights can be now be stashed away until the fall.

Even though I do what I can to ride through the winter (some winters better then others), my riding time is probably 50% or less compared to summer. So in reality, this is the official start of the season for me. Time to get consistent once again and I can't wait.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Commuter Dreams

Portland commuter documents his bike commute to a Tour De France commentary. Super well done for a home video - great job. Also a nice showcase of the Portland area, check out the number of bike commuters in the early shots.

Who hasn't ridden with Paul and Phil in their head, announcing your every move. Come on - admit it!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Bikes 'R' For Kids - Well, They Used To Be

My son Ian, currently 10 years old, has been bitten by the mainstream sports bug over the last year or so - much to the amusement of his non-mainstream sports Weird-O-Dad (that be me). He signed up for basketball and that multi-week program just ended. Now little league baseball has started - his first year ever trying this out. The wife and I have now entered the "drive kids around to practice" routine a few days a week. It gets loopy with coordinating who drops off, picks up, cuts out of work early, eating dinner late, and squeezing homework in.

Still, Ian enjoyed basketball and is digging the baseball deal so far - which is cool. The coaches all are dedicated folks who appear to really enjoy coaching kids with sports. Nobody is making money off this, it's for the good of the kids and the love of the game. I've yet to see over competitive or psycho adults thinking their kid will be the next big sport star. Everything has been focused on learning and having fun - they way it should be.

Me, being bike geek and racer fan, wonder why programs like this don't exist to get kids riding and racing bikes. Yeah, some programs do exist - like Rad Racing, but compared to mainstream sports - face it - bike racing for kids doesn't exist. Ian and I hit almost all races of the Indie Series the past two seasons and I'm always amazed how few kids race mountain bikes. There's a few hundred adults racing and just a handful of kids - same deal at cyclo-cross races.

I know BMX is fairly big and very kid oriented. This hasn't been on our wavelength, though maybe we should check it out. Having to compete or practice on a manicured track with a bike that's fairly useless for anything else, kind of turns me off though. Still, at least there's other kids involved.

Without even putting racing into the picture, many kids don't even ride bikes period. On school field trips or during sports practices, I've asked Ian's pals if they ride bikes at all. Some do, usual up and down the street kind of thing, others mention occasionally doing a ride with their family. A few don't own bikes and have never ridden - we're talking 10 year old kids here. Scary. Most parents I chat with at sports practice, when I mention Ian also races bikes, have no clue what I'm talking about. They only know about soccer, basketball, baseball and football.

This is too bad. Most kids love to ride bikes. Most kids love to be in the woods. Most kids have insane amounts of energy to burn off. Shorter mountain bike races on less technical courses are perfect for kids. Cyclo-cross courses are also perfect - even remove the barriers if needed. If more kids were exposed to this, they would dig it for sure. It's also a different and good companion to team sports - since everything depends on the individual - not a team.

The other day, after hanging around Ian's baseball practice - watching several fields full of kids practicing baseball drills, with endless streams of parents picking up and dropping kids off - when I got home, I emailed the local mountain bike club email list (a few hundred members) inquiring if any parents were interested in meeting once a month or so for a kids ride. Easy fun woods cruise, length depending on who shows up - just to get some kids together.

I received 3 responses - one woman who's kids (11 and 13) road race - inviting Ian for a training ride. Very cool offer, but we're sticking to dirt for now. One offer of maybe, but his 9 year old son might not be ready for this. The last response indicated his son was too young at the moment, but had the same idea of organizing rides for kids in the future. That was it, since then - nada.

I'm not giving up however. I'll try again and see if anyone responds. It would be cool to get maybe 5 kids, who could handle a 5 mile or so singletrack ride. Meet once a month or whatever works. Phase II of this could involve creating a low key race team. Something like Rad Racing, but way more beginner oriented. I'd totally dig getting something like this going.

Until then, I'll visit the mainstream sports world via my son's interest and support him the best I can. We'll also continue to ride together and hit some races this season - said he's still interested. I'm glad for that....

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Garage Sale Continues

Not much blogging or riding action over the last week or so. I haven't ridden in 11 days now, due to various reasons - from allergies (spring comes early to the Pacific Northwest), to work, to family related reasons - just too busy.

As usual though, bike related tomfoolery continues. My garage sale to score some dough for Project Access is going well. I've sold off some items and will list more stuff on Craigslist or eBay soon.

What's been sold.......

Clean Burley solo trailer sold quickly on Craigslist. These are always in demand, built well and hold their value. This trailer is headed to family number 4 to use - pretty cool. Having scored a killer deal when purchased off a neighbor a few years ago, I actually sold it for a profit. I did give the same neighbor a like new Trek Jet 16 bike for their son for free, just to keep the good karma rolling.

I've been saving these for years - but why? I never plan to use toe straps again. If you were to use toe straps, can't do much better then old school Suntour XC Pro pedals. Go ahead, try - I double dog dare you. Sold quickly on Craigslist for a pretty penny.

Items not pictured include...

Ibis Trials Comp featured in last blog post. Only had one bidder, but that's all you need on eBay. Bike is boxed and will be headed to Nebraska tomorrow. I hope the new owner digs it.

My cool neighbor Kim who I've known for 20+ years, has been threatening to give me the two bikes hanging in his garage collecting dust. And he did just that two weeks ago. Both bikes early '90s vintage. Pre-suspension, steel frame and forks, 1" quill stems, old school stuff - not worth a whole lot, but still decent bikes. One was a lower end GT with Suntour parts. The other a Giant with all XT - not bad at all. The Giant truly was giant being a 22" frame however.

I've been emailing recently with my old bike shop pal and ex-Greenpeace head honcho John about his utility bike project. He's been looking for a suitable donor bike to rig up a Xtracycle - maybe with electric assist. Him being a tall dude, the Giant would be perfect for this project, so off it goes to Virginia after we worked out a deal. If we were corporate types, would call this a "win win" situation.

Future items to sell are a '99 Ellsworth Truth frame and a pair of old school wheels in new condition - Sansin hubs, RM20 rims, 130mm spacing. If anyone out there in Blog Land is interested, let me know. There may be other goodies as well.

Along with selling off bike related stuff, I purchased a few items to build up Ian's bike. The shipping damaged frame was replaced by Performance - new one looks great. I then scored a new Cane Creek headset, Shimano LX crank (with BB), and chain off eBay. Followed by a new SRAM 9 speed cassette off Craigslist. It's mind boggling how much bike stuff - new stuff - that's on eBay.

At the moment, plan is to score myself a new 29er hardtail, then move my old XTR, Fox fork and wheels, currently on my Cannondale, to Ian's frame. The new parts I scored would still be needed - since I want Ian to run a 170mm crank and my chain, cassette and chain rings are toast.

While cruising the local bike shops for empty bike boxes needed for shipping - and checking out 29ers and other bikes - came across a 2007 Gary Fisher X Caliber leftover at Kirkland Cycle....

I took it for a fairly long test ride. Medium size frame, 17.5" seat tube and 24" top tube. With the stock 80mm stem, felt way too short. The nice bike shop girl swapped a 120mm for me to try. I also flipped it over to lower the bars. Ah, much better. Technically I should fit a large frame and run a normal sized stem. At almost 5' 11", I always seem to fall between medium and large for most production bikes. I also like a stretched out position, with the bars a little low - what I'm used to. With the 120mm stem this bike could work for me. It also gets me on smaller frame to compensate for the monster truck 29er wheels. Killer deal, since it's a leftover, but I passed. A little heavy with lower end SRAM X7 parts (2007 version) and the sparkle metal flake silver paint was a little too Ace Frehley for me.....

With that, I will end this ramble fest of a post and call it a night. If you made it this far - I thank you.

Adios for now.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Ibis for Sale - My First eBay Adventure

Attention citizens of Blog Land. I'm selling my Ibis Trials Comp - as featured in a recent post. All profits applied to Project Access - a noble cause. Hey, anything involved with bikes is a noble cause.

I did the local Seattle Craigslist deal for a few days. A few questions from folks, but nothing even remotely near a sale. I've bought and sold items off Craigslist - it's a great set up - and the cost is even better. As in free, can't beat that.

Since this Ibis is a niche bike - observed trials, and a vintage collectible deal - thought I'd try the eBay route. I've bought a few things off eBay, but never listed anything myself. Should be interesting. Click here to see all the action.

So far, zero bids. Oh yeah, this is smelling like success already....