Monday, April 26, 2010

John Burke Presentation

Here's a great presentation by John Burke, Head Honcho at Trek bikes. It's from 2007 and still very relevant today - especially with the Commuter Challenge right around the corner in May.

This talk is over 20 minutes long, but worth watching. Anyone who already bike commutes will be nodding their head like a demented Bobble Head - 'cause we already know. We know that bike commuting rocks and can solve many modern ills - from obesity, to congestion, to pollution. Oh yeah, plus it's fun.

Very cool that Trek and other bike industry types realize the next bike boom could revolve around people using bikes as general transportation. What a concept! You can only sell so many carbon frames to the already converted and racer wannabes (and I'm guilty as charged).

Grab a snack and view what John has to say. Then join whatever bike advocacy groups you think deserve your support. In the long run, it helps all cyclists and maybe the world as well.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Italian Car Show

Bit of a gear head post today, as in motor powered gear, verses pedal powered gear. Years ago, I owned many cars in a short period of time. Motorcycles are tossed in there as well, but we'll save that for other blog fodder. On the car front, I really dug Fiats at the time. Yes, Fiat - the famous, or infamous, car manufacturer from Italy.

Back in the early '80s, you could pick up '70s model Fiats for little dough. They were small, handled well, and fun to drive. Cheap to fix also - and that aspect was used often. The joke was Fiat stood for Fix It Again Tony. For a 19 year old sports car nut, just what the doctor ordered. Cheap enough to own and easy to fix.

During my "Fiat Years" I owned a 128 Sedan, 128 Sport, X 1/9, 131 Sedan and a 124 Wagon - all various '70s vintage. My old pal Kevin also owned a 128 Sport, 124 Spider, 850 Spider and 124 Wagon (I bought the ratty wagon from him). My brother also owned a 128 Sport as well. An all around neighborhood Fiat Fest.

Along with Fiat, I've always been a fan of many Italian wheels. Italy has made some cool stuff over the years - Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Ducati, Abarth - and don't forget Bianchi and Campagnolo. The Italians know how to put out some soulful wheels - agree?

With all that, we noticed an Italian car show advertised for today, so we checked it out. Sunny spring day, something different for a family outing, not a bad day out.

A few pictures from the afternoon......

Local Fiat club hosted the show at the Triple XXX Drive In, located in nearby Issaquah. I've driven by this place many times, but today was our first visit ever. The Triple XXX hosts many car shows throughout the year. By the size of the crowd today - smart move.

Retro '50s look inside with tons of moto head memorabilia hanging everywhere. Giant mugs of root beer and usual hamburger type menu.

A 409 V8 greets you at the door.

Late '60s Fiat 500. Yeah, people think modern Mini-Coopers or even the Smart car is small? This makes those cars look huge.

Wouldn't take much pasta to make this interior a little tight.

I don't know what the displacement of this motor is, but it's pretty damn small. The race modified Abarth versions of this car are really cool. None to be found today.

Some modern Ferraris. I think these are 430 models. Don't quote me, I'm not up on the latest from Ferrari. And with the chances of me ever affording one, a moot point.

Momma mia - that is nice.

Fiat X 1/9 - mid-engined, fun car. I owned a '77 X 1/9 for a short time. Mine turned out to be a nightmare project car with various calamities, including a slipped cam belt and four bent exhaust valves. Getting at anything with the engine wedged behind the seats was tough. They should have used velcro engine mounts for easy removal - for things like slipping cam belts. Even so, I'd still like to have a clean X 1/9 even today. Please slap me whenever I mutter those words.

'70s era Ferrari 308. I've always liked these and now they've depreciated to almost affordable levels. Not exactly the daily driver though.

Late '60s Dino Ferrari. Awesome looking little car. I don't have my history down, but this car was supposed to badged as a Fiat - or it might have been at the time. Badged as a Fiat or Ferrari, I'll take it.

1986 Alfa Romeo Milano sedan - complete with Bianchi wedged in back seat. Actually ridden or just a prop? You be the judge. I really wanted one of these cars in '86 - expensive at the time.

Modern Alfa Romeo, not sold in the U.S., but somehow shows up here. I don't remember the model name, but have seen this model in car magazines. Helpful, ain't I?

My favorite car of the show and my favorite Alfa model - '70s era GTV - with Panasport wheels. Nice, nice, nice. I'd take one of these in a second. Please send money.

Fiat Brava sedan. I owned a similar '77 131 Sedan, before they used the Brava name. Really nice car for the era.

Super clean and very green Fiat 850 Spider. 850 stands for the displacement - as in 850cc of power. Later models were something like 908cc. My old pal Kevin owned one of these in the early '80s. I remember driving it a few times myself. Fun little car, emphasis on little.

'70s Fiat 124 Sport. Fiat sold tons of the 124 Spider convertibles, but not many hardtop Sport models. I'd take the Sport over the Spider model, but that's just me.

Another clean Fiat 850 at the show. I like this one even better.

Quite a few Fiat 124 Spiders on display. A lot of Spiders survive to this day and the most popular Fiat in the U.S. for sure.

Another super clean Alfa GTV.

I ran into my old Mackie pal, John, displaying his '74 Alfa Romeo Spider. Nice guy and nice car.

A few DeTomaso Panteras in attendance, including this clean yellow one with modern wheels.

How about a lime green Lamborghini Countach? A little over the top for me.

Orange Countach allegedly owned by Sir Mix-A-Lot, who lives outside of Seattle.

Not part of the show, but seen outside - pretty cool Bug. I dig the old VWs as well.

All in all, a fun afternoon out. Even though my gear head interest has plummeted over the years, still cool to look at these old cars. Gets you thinking about picking one up, but in reality, I have no interest or time to be wrenching on old cars - I'd rather ride my bike.

And I did just that later in the day. A quick solo singletrack cruise before dinner. No noise, no gas, no rust, no slipping cam belts. Much nicer.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Damn You Jan

Witness the detached arm - is that the correct term? - on my beloved pair of Rudy Project glasses. It snapped off quite easily while removing the glasses from my helmet this morning.

From my helmet? Yes, placed there upside down in the vents to look oh so pro, while walking from the office bike room to my cluttered desk. I was hacked. This is the second pair of Rudy Project glasses to snap an arm off for me.

The last time was a few years ago while talking to a neighbor straddling my bike. Glasses caught on my STI shifter cable while I was "talking with my hands" - hey, they're Italian glasses - and snap, the arm falls to the ground. Not much force at all. I was bummed. Bummed enough to buy another pair, since I owned multiple lenses and dug the way they looked.

I know it's a complete, absolute rip off to pay $100+ bucks for sunglasses, no matter how "technical" they are. So, now I've paid $200+ for Rudy glasses - both now broken.

I'm blaming Jan Ullrich for this debacle. Every since I spotted him wearing Rudy shades, I thought they looked super cool. So Euro, so PRO - I wanted 'em.....

Here Lance congratulates Jan for having such cool shades.

First, Jan leaves the sport under the suspicion of doping. Now, my Rudy glasses fail. I'm crushed and have lost the will to live. What will I do?

Wait, maybe there's a warranty on my stylish, yet protective eye wear. I check the Rudy website and indeed, covered for three years. Maybe there's hope after all. I read the details: Need to fill out some form and send in $19.95 for "shipping and processing" and let them decide if a warranty replacement is in order.

Hmmm, how much you wanna bet the glasses cost around $20 to manufacture. Anyone?

I may give this a shot and be out $20. I'm not spending another $100 for Rudy Project glasses, even if Jan did wear 'em. Plus, looked what happened to him. I can't take that chance. Anyway, $300 total for Rudy shades? That would be nuts.

I need to be sensible about this. Let's check out the Oakley site - yeah, some nice, cheap glasses there.

I guess I'm sucker for some things. I justify it by wearing these shades almost everyday - riding and just for general wear. I pop clear lenses in for rainy days, night commutes, and mountain bike woods use. Dark lenses for sunny days. Amazingly, we do get a few in Seattle. Don't tell anyone.

I rode for years without eye protection, now can't imagine riding without it. It's less fatiguing, keeps some pollen out of my allergy sensitive eyes, and face it - it's a style thing. They look cool.

Damn you Jan.

Team Jerkcx Prologue to Baseball - Wha?

The Group Health Commute Challenge is just around the corner - the month of May in fact. It's a once a year gig where companies and individual folk compete against each other for the most bike commuting miles, days biked, and other measurements of fun. It's a friendly competition and excuse to get people exposed to bike commuting. Nothing wrong with that.

I've rounded up a few teams over the years at "the office" and this year is no exception. In the Seattle area, about 20,000 people sign up for this two wheeled shindig, and you can see the increase in bike commuters for the month long event. Super cool to witness.

Last year, our team, Team Jerkcx - a little wordplay on Merkcx - kicked ass in our own company race for the commuting title. We scored the most mileage, thanks to some serious mileage junkies and regular commuters. I'm flattered everyone wanted to be on the team once again, with acting me as Team Captain. Should be a fun May.

With that, I was heading home today on the spiffy carbon Ibis minus fenders, instead of the spiffy steel Ibis with comfy fenders. So of course, it's raining. I stopped to put on a jacket and rain booties, when two fellow members of Team Jerkcx cruised by - Jay and Jamie - so we shared a spontaneous ride home together, since our commutes run the same direction for a few miles. I joked this was the official Team Jerkcx Prologue to kick off the festivities next month.

Jay, fellow IT Geek, has taken up cycling about 2 years ago. He's since gone gaga over riding and has lost 100 pounds. Yes, that's with two zeros. Amazing. His partner in crime, Jamie, has dove in as well and rides quite a bit. She's some sort of graphic designer type at "the office". Both super nice folks and have become pretty strong riders. I think they're hooked for life.

After they peeled off our shared commute route, I continued on in the rain towards my son Ian's Little League game, hoping to catch most of it. Ian is burned out on this baseball gig and came close to quitting last week, but elected to finish out the season. This is our first experience at this Little League deal and the schedule is loopy. They're scheduled to play or practice 4 times a week, with another "optional" practice session at times.

So, we're talking 10+ hours of baseball per week. Unless you're the baseball fanatic, that's a lot of hours for a 10 year old. I find it ironic that Little League actually killed his interest in baseball. Or maybe his interest just ran it's natural course. In any case, we're looking forward to the end of the season. I'm curious to see if he wants to play next year.

To give him additional encouragement, I'm trying to be at every game. I've made almost all of 'em, some impossible due to work reasons. The rest of family however, attends all events - practice and games.

I hit the park/ball field with plenty of time to catch some action. Once at the park, I cut through the woods to save time and passed a couple on mountain bikes. Goofy fun while riding a road bike with 23c tires, dressed like Euro Race Geek, and carrying a messenger bag - in the pouring rain.

I wondered if the game would be rained out, but no - it was in full swing when I arrived - despite the weather. I watched Ian make one good play, which was cool. I was also soaking wet and shivering in bike clothes. 49 degrees and pouring rain, Northwest baseball weather. Since I was now officially in attendance, wife Lori and daughter Amy got to hide in the car with the heat on. I don't blame 'em.

After the game I totally froze my ass off riding home. About a two mile ride, so I never fully warmed up. And yet I still enjoyed it. I am insane.

49 degrees and rain. Perfect baseball weather.

Carbon Ibis shivers against the bleachers.

Another game tomorrow afternoon, as per the crazy Little League schedule. We'll be there, cheering Ian on, probably shivering in the rain. Carbon Ibis however, will be tucked in warm and cozy in the garage. Lucky bastard.

After our baseball commitments, we're hoping to get some dirt miles in on Sunday. I'll take wheels over balls any day.

Hey, now there's a catch phrase to offend people at the field - no? I better keep it to myself.

Ride on.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sunday Ride

After a hectic weekend, quick ride at St Ed/Big Finn Hill, late Sunday afternoon. Nothing exciting to report, just a few pictures to post......

Ian checks out the sunset over Lake Washington. One trail at St Ed State Park heads down to a small beach type area. There are other trails that lead to the water, but only one that allows bikes. Nice wide downhill, but needs to be crawled down due to hiker, dog walkers, and other folks out as well. Pretty decent climb to get back out, the only real climb of the area.

Me, sitting on a log, looking pretty goofy - my speciality.

Ian eyes up the bikes, in case they make a run for it. Under the log, a mouse poked his head out a few times, but disappeared once the camera came out. A rare camera shy species of rodent, only found in the Pacific Northwest. Look it up. It's true, I swear....

Second dirt ride on Ian's new steed. Tweaked front derailleur shifts much better, but still not perfect - a few dropped chains while hitting the small ring. I've never had this much hassle setting up a derailleur before. Might be a LX crank/chainline issue. I'll tweak it some more before the next ride. Since I swapped the stem over, Ian mentioned the lower handlebars feel better.

Overall, he's digging the bike and cleaned a few technical sections, where he'd stumble on previous rides. He also mentioned this bike climbs better then his 24" wheel Specialized. New rig is also really light, I need to weigh it and find out the actual poundage.

Second real ride on the new Sette Razzo as well. I like it - a lot. Handles and feels great, the 29er wheels do seem to roll easier. So far, so good. I need to get more dirt miles on it - some faster solo rides as well. I still plan to pick up a seat post with a little setback, as well install my bar ends.

That's all for now.....

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Rambling Man - Some Photographic Proof

Nice weather for the bike commute today. Sunny and 43 degrees on the way into work, then more sun and 60 degrees for the ride home. Not a bad 34 mile round trip. With no rain or wet roads, carbon Ibis drafted into duty - felt great. No actual photographic proof - you'll just have to take my word for it. You can trust me.

During the commute home, I spotted this VW Camper for sale. I always wanted one of these - perfect family camper, mountain bike race vehicle, and still small enough for regular transportation. I stopped to check it out. As expected, price was a little loopy for the pretty ancient rig - asking $14,900. We're talking a '89 van with 133,000+ miles. Not in bad shape, but the usual rusty looking exhaust and some oil drips, comes with the territory on these rigs.

From the vintage buses from the '70s to the Eurovan models of the '90s - all the camper versions are crazy priced. They do hold their value however. Still, a steep surcharge for basically a small ice box, stove and fold out beds. You still need to crap outside and "shower" with a wash cloth. Even so, I'd love to score one of these.

After I arrived home, before even changing out of sweaty bike clothes - started wrenching on Ian's bike to cure the screwed up shifting we experienced last weekend. I sorted the rear out a few days ago - easy cable adjustment. Discovered the front shifting issues revolved around the left crank arm not being fully seated, allowing the crank to drift a few millimeters. I also moved the spacers around on the BB - one on each side as intended. I had moved both to one side to get a better chain line. With all that fixed, shifts okay now. I buzzed it around quite a bit myself to be sure. I also swapped the stem upside down to lower the handlebars. With the Stack-O-Spacers, the bars were a few inches above the seat (I don't want to cut the fork, this way it could fit a larger frame down the road). I think this contributed the weird cornering feeling Ian mentioned (plus the fact it was the first ride on 26" wheels).

After the adjustments, Ian gave the shifting and lower position a thumbs up after a quick test ride. No actual photographic proof - you'll just have to take my word for it. You can trust me. We'll hit the woods again this weekend for a real test.

Here's actual photographic proof of what's been taking up lots of time - baseball. Ian at bat from a recent game. This little league scene gets a little crazy. This week, practice or a game for 5 days straight. That's 10+ hours of baseball in a week - for 10 year olds. Then fit in homework and family time - kind of nuts - my take anyway. This is Ian's first year for little league and he's enjoying it, but is getting a little tired of the practices as well. We plan to skip a few for his interest sake and our family sanity.

Maybe if I was a baseball fan, I'd be digging it all. Even if I was a fan, I think one practice and one game a week is enough for 10 year old kids. When they hit 7 or 8th grade, or even high school - and really dig baseball - then play 5 days a week. No?

Oh well. Time to pull the plug on this rambling post and hit the sack.....