Thursday, September 30, 2010

Eddy - The Cannibal

Pretty cool montage of Eddy Merckx plucked off YouTube, via the Italian Cycling Journal. Give it a spin.

Merckx, perhaps the greatest road cyclist ever, was a bit before my time. So everything gathered via old video, pictures and written stories. Even so, new cyclists realize he was a legend and still know of him.

I always enjoy looking at this era of racing. The steel frames, toe straps, the classic jerseys, no helmets, no eye wear to block the facial expressions. The look of the old film, the now vintage support vehicles, even the way the spectators are dressed - all hark to another age. A classic time for bike racing.

As mentioned, the Eddy era was a bit before my total interest in bicycling. However, not by much, since I pulled bike shop duty in the early '80s. Maybe another reason why I connect in a way to these old clips.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Running is Dangerous - Stick to Bikes

Bizarrely humid in the Seattle area today. You'd think with how damp it can be here, this would be a common occurrence. Not true. It's usually damp and chilly, not damp and hot - like today.

Compared to my east coast roots, it's nothing, but in any case - while riding to work this morning - I'm actually roasting a bit. The pavement is wet, low hanging clouds, sun peeking though in spots. It did make for some cool looking scenery on Lake Washington however.

I risked taking the fender-less Ibis and lost the bet, ground was wet enough to get everything nice and corroded with road grit. Awesome. On top of that, I left home really late, then scored a flat tire on the way in. Nothing more fun then changing a filthy wet tire - that fits stupid tight on the rim. Ah, joy. I then wasted all my water attempting to clean my hands off. I arrive at work pretty late - even for me. I'm making it all sound worse then it was, since I still enjoyed the ride. I guess I'm sick that way.

For the trip home, left work late - cosmic way of leveling things out. I'm almost home, off the Burke-Gilman Trail, and heading up Juanita Drive towards my neighborhood. There's a small bridge to cross, no shoulder, so I usually take the sidewalk - narrow walk with railings on both sides. Sometimes a jogger or someone taking a stroll is on the sidewalk as well, so I need to slow down to allow room to pass.

As I hit the bridge today, it's getting dark, but I can see a woman jogging towards me on the bridge. As we get closer, I slow down for her to pass - then notice blood all over her face, dripping down her jacket and onto the ground. She's actually cupping one hand under face to catch the blood. Yikes. She's a mess.

We stop and I asked her what happened. She loses it a bit and starts crying, said she just fell while jogging and bit through her lip. Her mouth is a bloody sight, dripping all over. I ask her if she needs any help - is her car nearby? Said she's running over to the medical clinic on the corner, since it's closer then running home. Good idea - the clinic is only about 100 yards away - if even that. I tell her it looks worse then it actually is, she'll be fine (I hope) - and she takes off.

I continue my ride home, I'm sure with a few stitches, she'll be okay and running again soon. Ouch.

Friday, September 24, 2010

World's Lightest Road Bike?

How about a 6 pound bike? Yes, 6 pounds total - doesn't even seem possible. Must be made from moon rocks and pixie dust. It's allegedly rideable and cost $45,000 to build - though not for sale. That's too bad, 'cause I'm sure there's a huge market for $45,000 six pound bikes. Maybe you should skip a few burritos while waiting for delivery.

I've read about crazy project bikes weighing 10 pounds or so, but 6 pounds is hard to even comprehend. That's 10 pounds lighter then my current carbon Ibis road bike, which already seems crazy light to me. Welcome to Loopy Town.

More pictures and info from the fine folks at VeloNews - covering Interbike - now in progress. That's where I picked this story from. VeloNews puts out a great magazine - paper or online version. Tell 'em I sent you. They'll be sure to to reply with a blank stare and mutter "Who?".

Me? I'm holding out for the 5 pound bike. This way I can mock all my friends riding 6 pound bikes...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

New Ibis Site

I like a fair amount of different bikes and bike related companies - for various reasons - however, I'm only an actual fan of a select few companies. To say you're a fan of a company may sound weird - then again maybe not. There's a few criteria that seems to permeate my list of favorites - make cool stuff, be run by people that "get it", and have sense of humor about it all.

One company on my list would be Ibis. Ibis was founded by Scot Nicol, back in the early days of mountain biking. Later, during the '90s, some would argue their "heyday", they came out with an incredible collection of bikes - mountain, trials, road, tandem, full suspension designs - really well done, ultra cool stuff, with a whacked sense of humor.

I don't have the dates off the top of head - and the intent of this post isn't to document Ibis history - but around 2000 or so, Ibis was sold to people looking to get into the bike industry. They failed big time and sank Ibis, much to the dismay of fans like me. With the end of Ibis, it joined Fat City and Bridgestone, creating a trio of dead companies that I really dug and thought contributed great stuff to the bike world.

Lucky for Ibis fans, a few years later Nicol resurrected Ibis with a few other smart folks. They've since gone all carbon and use the designed in USA and manufactured off shore business model. To be honest, at first that turned me off a bit to the new Ibis. However, after reading up and seeing the bikes in the flesh, uh carbon, I've since changed my mind. Welcome to the new world. To really prove the point, I bought a Ibis Silk Carbon road bike and it rides incredibly well. It compliments my old school '97 Ibis Hakkalugi, the most ridden bike out of my garage. I also owned a '88 (or so) Ibis Trials Comp that I recently sold off.

If I could afford it, a new Ibis Mojo would be in my garage, with maybe the new carbon Hakkalugi as well. That may be awhile off. A boy can dream though, can't he?

Over the years, Scot Nicol has become a bike industry icon, in a hip indie way, which is right up my alley. I had a chance to hit Interbike in 1995 and met Scot and John Castellano at the show. At the time, they were using Castellano's rear suspension design for the Ibis Bow Ti - a wild titanium bike with 6" of rear travel - with no pivots. Having 'em show me how the design worked was the highlight of the trip.

With all that, if you're not familiar with Ibis, check out the site and bikes. If you already know the Ibis deal, check out the redesigned site for the super cool illustrations. It's the not the usual bike site.

Then again, Ibis is not the usual bike company. I hope Ibis Phase II sticks around for many more years.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Summer Is Over - Gas Huffer Says So

The Seattle switch to fall has been thrown. Seems it anyway. Lots of rain and showers over the last week or two. Kids back in school, getting dark earlier, adios summer. Welcome to gray skies and damp pavement.

To commemorate that event, a little video from my favorite Seattle band - Gas Huffer - with a song about the last day of summer. It even has bikes in it...

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Cyclocross action-o-plenty this weekend, with other bike related festivities tossed in as well. Started off the weekend with a early morning mountain bike ride on Saturday - group ride. Fun morning and felt great to get out on the bike, since I've barely ridden in a week, due to a bad cold. Cold is out. Riding is in. Ride was a bit muddy, so the 29er got a wash afterwards. Yup, you know summer is over now.

Later in the afternoon, I spent a few hours fitting my ancient Yakima roof rack to the official new Dan O race rig. Rack has lived on my old, now dead, Nissan for 18 years or so. After pulling everything apart, cleaned it up best I could - some bolts were pretty rusty, plastic is aged, lots of oxidation on the painted parts. The rack fairing, full of old school stickers, is pretty much toast. Even the remains of a small bees nest in one of the towers. Rack was purchased in '92 and uses the now discontinued SST towers and Y clips. I scored some Y clips for the "new" Toyota on eBay. After much fiddling, had it mounted and ready for use. Or so I thought - more to follow.

After the morning ride and official rack fitting session, Ian and I headed over to Star Crossed in Redmond (that be in Washington), to watch some Elite level 'cross racing. We've hit this event a few years in a row and its a bit of a scene - under the lights, beer garden, food - few thousand spectators. Pretty much rained the entire night, as per 'cross tradition. We had fun anyway. French dude Francis Mourey took the Elite mens race, after a nice battle with Ryan Trebon. Katerina Nash scored the win for Elite women. Tough, slippery conditions for all.

Belgium in Redmond?

Can you say rain? Beer garden patrons under tent get sloshed in another way.

Quite the atmosphere. Log barrier section - wet, muddy, slippery.

Fast women and cowbells.

Faster men and even more cowbells.

After the race, Ian and I drove home - wet, but happy. We hit the sack, 'cause Ian planned to race 'cross himself the next morning. I thought I'd start loading up the car early, but elected to do it all in the morning. Yeah, you know how that goes. With that, we begin Phase II of Weekend-O-Cross. I'll be your tour guide, please keep arms in tram at all times.

Sunday morning, alarm goes at 7:00 AM or so, but I hit snooze a few times. Ian's race scheduled at 10:45 AM, so we have some time. Since its actually not raining, the female half of the clan decide to attend and cheer Ian on - cool. While loading up the car, discover my 29er, which was to serve the spectator/support mobile for the day, doesn't fit on the ancient Yakima bike rail - freshly installed from Saturday. Disk brake caliper hits the rail - damn. I grab the vintage Yo Eddy off the hook and pump up the tires. The Fat Chance will work better anyway - platform pedals mounted allow normal shoes.

Oh yeah, forgot to mention - this race is #2 of the MFG series - location was Sammamish State Park in Issaquah. This event put on by Rad Racing Northwest - club that focuses on Junior racers.

We hit the race with time to spare. It's raining on and off, course is super muddy and slippery. Huge Junior field, kids from 10 - 17 years old. I've said it before, 'cross is perfect for kids and the growing popularity is proof. Ian's Junior 10 - 12 class scheduled for a 30 minute race. Mom, sister Amy, and I cheered Ian on for his 3 lap race - compete with cowbell. I could tell Ian was hurting by his face - racing 'cross ain't easy. Still, when he crossed the finish line, soaked and muddy - said he had a good time and is ready for the next event. That's my boy. No idea how he did, we left before the results were posted. We'll check online later. In the end, it doesn't really matter. All about doing your best and having fun. We're talking 11 year old kids here - it's all good and a learning experience.

The Junior field lines up for the start. Kids 10 - 17 years old. Race together, scored by separate age groups. The older kids are pretty damn fast. They blow by some of the younger kids like they're standing still.

Ian, mountain biker, in a sea of 'cross racers. I'm not sure if he'd be much faster on a true 'cross bike - at this age anyway. A 'cross bike may be in his future however.

Scott, on the left, we know from mountain bike racing. Very, very fast 11 year old kid. Races mountain bikes, 'cross and BMX. Here an older Junior racer passes him in the barrier section.

This kid bunny hopped the barriers on every lap. Awesome smooth riding style.

My vintage '91 Fat Chance Team Yo Eddy drafted into support action today. I haven't ridden this bike in a quite awhile and a reminder how sweet it is. There's magic in those old school Fat City steel tubes, I tell you. A really nice riding bike. I may pop some clipless pedals back on there and do some retro singletrackin' soon.

Mud splattered post race Ian. Nice job my son. I know these years don't last forever and I'm digging all of it while I can. I hope this type of action create fun memories for him as well.

Yes, adults actually raced today as well - many of 'em. I was not one of 'em however. I did race this event last year and had a blast, along with a royal ass kicking. I will tow up to the start line at a 'cross race before the season is over. That's a promise.

After the race, we all pile in the car and head for some lunch - in the pouring rain. We notice all four windows in the new race rig are leaking slightly. It's from the Yakima rack clips not fitting correctly. Maybe my eBay find weren't the correct clips - though they seem to fit okay. Much all around happiness and joy.

After a family lunch - mmm, mexican food - we hit REI to check out the newer style Yakima racks. Sure enough, the newer Q Tower appears to be a nicer design. With the work week pending and more races coming up, I said screw it and bought new towers, clips, and even two new bike rails. There's $500+ I wasn't planning to spend. Wife said don't worry about it, since we actually spent less on the used car then planned. See, another reason why I married her.

Spent the rest of the afternoon pulling off the old rack - I did reuse the bars - and mounting up the new one. It looks good and even passed the garden hose test - no leaks.

Until next time...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Old Guy Ride

Rolled outta bed early this morning for a group mountain bike ride. Old mountain bike club pal, Tom, told me of this ride awhile back - and I've seen 'em all riding a few times - when my personal rides crossed paths in our local woods. Tom refers to this ride as the "Old Guy Ride". Since I'm now approaching officially old, thought I'd check it out.

Ride meets every Saturday morning at 8:30 AM. I wake up at 8:00 AM, wharf down a bowl of cereal, and ride over with sleep still in my eyes. As I rolled up to introduce myself to the gang, only recognized one face - the Principle of my kid's elementary school. That's pretty cool, eh?

I've actually run into him a few times riding and we've chatted about bikes when I've spotted him at the school, though have never ridden together. The few other dudes I've never met, but everyone is super friendly. About 5 of us for this cruise. And yeah, let's just say everyone is a bit on the older side, me included.

We buzz the trails at a pretty easy clip, but certainly fast enough to be entertaining. I've been on these trails a zillion times over the last 20+ years, but always interesting to follow someone else for a change, and see how they link the pinball maze of trails together. The ride was fun and total old school in a way. Just a bunch of guys riding for enjoyment - doesn't matter what you're wearing or what you're riding. It's just about being in the woods on bikes.

The trails were wet after the recent rain, and getting a bit muddy felt good after the dry summer. Something about riding in the fall, in the mud, is just plain right to me. Technical wise, I was all over the place today. Sometime you have the flow, sometimes you're a floundering mess. I unclipped repeatedly for simple technical sections and even crashed once. Sweet.

I discover this ride has been going for 15 years now - summer, winter, rain, or snow. Sometimes just a few show up, sometimes 15 people join in. People take turns as ride leaders. Another tradition is the stop at the local espresso stand - right across the street from the singletrack. Somebody buys for all and the payback goes around during future rides. Nice.

One aspect, out of many, that keeps me hooked on bikes is the social aspect. Folks from all walks of life, meet up for rides and get to know each other a bit. With the bike as the common thread, pretty easy and comfortable to do.

I plan to occasionally hit this ride in the future. Always good to experience and add what you can to a tradition.

1986 Miyata Team - Yes Please

I spotted this sweet '86 Miyata Team on eBay, offered for sale by The Pros Closet. It looks super clean and in perfect shape. They're asking $900 and if I didn't have about two zillion items more important to spend $900 on, it be on its way here via a big brown truck. It's even my size. Damn.

I have a soft spot for Miyata bikes of that era - which happens to be my bike shop era. I spun wrenches in a shop from '81 to '84 or so. Whippany Cycle, located in scenic Whippany New Jersey. I assembled many Miyatas at that time and always dug their higher end road bike models - the 912, the Pro, and the Team. I never purchased one, but should have. I did wind up buying a Miyata mountain bike however, but that's another story.

I occasionally cruise eBay searching for a clean example, this one is the best I've seen.....

Old school Dura-Ace and steel fork. Very nice indeed.

More old Dura-Ace goodness. Only 6 speeds. Go ahead, count 'em.

Man, that's clean. I always dug the blue color of the Pro and Team models.

Ah, downtube friction shifters. Somewhere, Grant Petersen nods his head in approval.

Old school Turbo saddle. I still run one of these on my RB-1.

Very, very nice. Yeah, modern carbon bikes rock - but don't match this era of old school steel for style.

Oh well, the cleanest example I've ever witnessed. Not gonna happen, unless Santa is watching. I promise - I'll be good all year. Really.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Paved Magazine

While doing a little lunch time magazine stand surfing the other day, noticed this shiny new publication on the rack. I gave it the quick flip through and deemed it worthy of purchase for further inspection. Not a tough sell to bike fan and magazine nut me. I read a stupid amount of bike related tomfoolery - what's one more? Throw it on the pile.

Paved is brought you by the same folks the put out bike, the mountain bike publication. That's right bike, no capital. No capital letter means it's cool, everyone knows that. As you can see, paved contains no capital, so it also must be cool. Plus, the cover states (strangely enough in all caps) "Celebrating the raw passion of riding on the road". I'm not sure if my passion for road riding can be described as "raw", but I'd say it's at least medium rare - so I'm close.

Oh yeah - Lance is on the cover. By now, that seems to be some sort of federal law - Lance must be cover material for all bike related magazines - at least for a few issues a year. If not, you'll get a call from Lance's "people". And that means trouble.

After reading the entire premier issue, pretty good - especially for a first shot. All kidding aside, I've been the bike magazine fan for years, so cool to see a road version with their style - better then average photography and writing with just enough hipness to keep it fun.

This issue contained some nice photography and some decent articles. I enjoyed the story on Ben Serotta of Serotta bike fame and Gary Erickson of Clif Bar fame. I think Serotta has fallen off the radar a bit, though they make impressive frames. If I was going for the high end frame, a steel Serotta would be on my list for sure. Clif Bars? My family has eaten a few zillion boxes worth of Clif Bars over the years. It's also a cool company that gives back to the sport.

Back to the mag - one other interesting story on doping and the history of it all. Nothing earth shattering, but disgusting example of old school method of cheating the urine test spelled out for your enjoyment.

A glimpse at some of the articles.....

Does the world really need another bike magazine? Probably not. Then again, a good sign that the audience - or demographics in marketing speak - is big enough support yet another publication. And that means more people are riding. Well, hope so anyway.

In any case, a cool mag - check it out. I'm also betting it becomes even better with future issues.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

MFG Cyclocross Action

Some helmet cam action from last weekend - first race of the MFG 'cross series. I pulled this from the MFG site while checking the results. Fun event, looking forward to the rest of the series. More cowbell !!

Take a virtual ride of the course - which is practically in our backyard - welcome to our neighborhood.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

New Bike Hauler - Phase II

Project $500 Jetta has been declared dead. Here in the scenic state of Washington, emissions check must be performed before changing the title over - so we've been told by the DMV office.

On Saturday, I drove the mighty $500 Jetta to the emissions testing center, where it promptly failed for various reasons. Reasons hack mechanic me don't wanna deal with - like failed O2 sensors, electronic error codes, and dead Check Engine light. Add in the wasted suspension and dead power windows to the repair cost, even with me doing much of it, and Project Jetta hits the KBB worth of $1500 or so. Ouch.

Plus, count the time spent in the driveway with skinned knuckles and greasy hands. I'd rather go ride my bike. If the emissions passed, I would have continued as planned with the $500 experiment. With that defeat, I think I'm done.

After the 'cross race today, looked online for another car, including the dealer where I tested the White Whale. Lo and behold, they had a mini White Whale. Not quite as cool as the hot rod/cult Chevy, quite the opposite in fact, a boring Camry wagon. It warranted further inspection, so the family drove over for a look see.

We arrive and it looks super clean for 1994 Toyota with 140,000+ miles. Really clean. And the Car Fax report shows regular maintenance from a local Toyota dealership. It even has a 3rd row jump seat that folds into the floor, so fits 7 people. With the rear seats folded down, two people could easily camp as well. Similar attributes I dug about the White Whale, minus the massive (and fun) V8 motor. This could be the new family/bike/camper mobile. Let's test drive, shall we?

Test drive is typical Toyota, the thing still drives like new. Wacky enough, as we pull into a church parking lot to further inspect and change test drivers - so Lori could sample all things Camry - a similar Camry wagon a few spaces away. As we're looking things over, owner of the other Camry exits the church and walks over. Tells us his Camry wagon has over 200,000+ miles and runs well. Possible sign from above? One never knows, huh?

After the extended test drive, we decide to make an offer. It's a bit boring, yet useful, and ugly enough to be sorta interesting. After suitable bike racks installed to roof and appropriate bike stickers carefully applied to windows - yes, I could live with this for awhile. Dealer excepts offer of $3500, paperwork is signed and we now own a 1994 Camry wagon.

If it last a few years, all will be cool. Time will tell. $3500 for a car these days is still pretty cheap. We'll spin the wheel and give it a chance.

Cyclocross!! - The Season Begins

Cyclocross season kicked off today with the first event of the MFG Cyclocross series. This event held at Big Finn Hill Park, right in our neighborhood. How often is a race rideable from your front door? No car required.

Ian was looking forward to racing - me too. I however was wacked with a head cold and sore throat since yesterday, so bagged the idea of racing. On top of that, I never took the time to convert my trusty Ibis from commuter mobile to certified 'cross weapon - by yanking off the fenders and swappin' tires. Enough excuses, still plenty of races left in the season for me to get blown out the back of the pack - my speciality.

Ian's race also had a comfy start time of 12:10 PM, so we got to sleep in a bit, then ride over to sign up. And sign up we did. Well, Ian anyway. After the proper paperwork was filed with correct authorities, Ian rode around a bit to warm up - though no opportunity to pre ride the course. Not a big deal, since it was the exact same course as last year.

Lots of kids did battle today and always fantastic to witness. Here, kids in the Junior 10 - 12 age class , including Ian, take off for their 20 minute race. Total of 24 kids in the Junior 10 - 12 class - amazing! Ian placed 15th out of the bunch, not a bad showing at all. Super good in my book. More important, he had a great time and wants to do the entire series. We'll hit some other races for sure.

Kids attack the barrier section. Small legs equal big barriers.

Ran into a guy I know who does IT support for REI, so we see each other occasionally for work related pow wows. Todd rides this sweet old school Independent Fabrications 'cross bike. He uses it for everything - dirt and road rides - no mountain bike required.

I also ran into a few other people I know, since like minded bike geeks tend to congregate in the same areas. Craig, an old mountain bike club pal was there with his son. We're supposed to share some rides again soon - been many years. Wacky enough, I also recognized the dude who bought my Triumph Speed Triple off me in 2001. How I remembered that face is a mystery - nice guy though. He now races 'cross and sold off all moto powered devices as well. Smart move.

Daughter Amy and wife Lori also attended the festivities. Amy was scheduled to race the free kiddie class event, but we goofed and missed it - since it happened while we were cheering Ian on. Here, a chocolate covered waffle seems to be consoling matters.

Now a few various pics of the fast Cat 1 and 2 dudes going at it.....

All in all, a great shindig. They even had a running race on the course as the last event, though we headed home before that kicked off. Food and beer available, various team and other official camps lining the course, cool set up. It appeared to be a bigger crowd then last year, which was the first year for this series. Cyclocross is also pretty big here in the Pacific Northwest. And for good reason - short and fast races, cool vibe - perfect for racers and spectators alike.

No matter what the result - still my favorite racer.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Energy Independent Future?

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
An Energy-Independent Future
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Even though I rarely watch the show (or television at all lately), The Daily Show with Jon Stewart can be pretty damn funny and smart at the same time. Stewart (and of course, his writers) have an awesome knack of putting out the news and wicked political commentary with a super witty style - even if you do or don't agree with the message.

This piece on America's dependance on oil is really well done - check it out.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Ass Kicking 'R' Me

I'm riding home from work today, just left my building - doing a little sidewalk surfing, crossing a street - attempt to bunny hop up the curb, since many pedestrians using the sidewalk and I don't wanna be rude. Small, ancient sewer grate to clear also. I'm moving at a walking pace.

I successfully hop the curb and sewer, though both SPD pedals simultaneously release mid flight. I land straddling the top tube, feet down, SPD cleats skidding across the sidewalk. The nose of my old school Flite saddle impales my tail bone and general ass area. Ouch. Lucky for me, I don't go down.

I casually clip back in and pedal away, like I meant to do that. Sidewalk full of people probably thinking, "Nice going Racer Boy - ha!" Yeah, it was funny, I gotta admit.

About 5 seconds after pedaling away, man - that hurt. My ass and tail bone still hurt hours later. Mighty impressive indeed.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

New Bike Hauler - Sorta

Behold the new bike hauler and rain commuter. Well, new is relative - new to me anyway. The mighty steed is a '96 VW Jetta with 164,000 miles, 3 busted electric windows, and suspension that seems to contain no damping whatsoever. It does run well and sports a manual 5 speed, so that bumps up the fun factor a tad. All this gleaming, well used technology for the grand sum of $500 - courtesy of my old riding pal, Brian. In this day and age, $500 for any drivable car qualifies as a total bargain. Thanks Brian.

Plan A is to just change the oil and see how long $500 transportation lasts. Plan B was to fix the electric windows, but since the driver side and the sun roof work - and with winter on the way - doesn't really matter. Plan C was to replace the struts so the thing actually doesn't wander all over the highway.

After driving it for two days, I may bump up Plan C and order some struts online. I could even get a full suspension kit with stiffer springs and lower ride height for $500 or so. Total cost would still be under $1000. We're talking new world economy fun here.

Plan D is already in progress - mount my Yakima roof rack to Jetta. My rack is old however and uses the discontinued SST towers that require Y clips. I need the Y44 clip and can't find any at the moment. I've been checking eBay and Craigslist daily. If anyone out there in Blog Land has a set to let go, let me know. In the meantime, old pal Brian has loaned me the Yakima trunk mount deal.

Since my previous car blew up a few months ago, we've been surviving pretty well with one family vehicle, thanks to bike commuter me. With school starting and various activities kicking in, the second car does comes in handy at times. I also cheat a bit and drive more often when the full on Seattle rainy winter kicks in. Son Ian and I also dig heading out to different places to ride and race and now we can do that once again, guilt free, without stranding the female half of the clan.

In any case, I only wind up driving a few days a week, so will be interesting to see how long the $500 experiment lasts. I still ride more miles then drive per year. Yeah, I'm bragging a bit and take pride in that little fun fact.

Despite my car related past few posts - have actually been riding lately - including mountain biking on all three days of the Labor Day weekend. One ride solo, one ride with Ian, one ride with Ian and old pal Brian. Fun stuff for sure. We've had some rain and the trails were in great condition - damp - but no mud.

On a different note, through Facebook, have gotten reacquainted with a cousin I haven't seen since we were kids - maybe 13 years old, so haven't seen him in 35+ years. He's a long distance truck driver and hit the Seattle area over the weekend. Family and I drove out to the giant truck stop in North Bend to meet him. Went out for a nice dinner and it was cool. We plan to meet again on his next trip out west. Always great to reconnect with long lost family members.

On a similar note, I've reconnected with loads of people on Facebook - relatives, friends, old coworkers, etc. If you're into that kind of thing, highly recommended.

This concludes the special report, we now return to our regular programming....

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Take Me Out To The Ball Game

Scored some free Mariner tickets at work for the Friday night game. Baseball fan I'm not, but son Ian is and I knew he'd enjoy going. He's only been to one other MLB game and was so young, doesn't remember any of it. Boss Man at work was giving away 4 tickets, so a coworker and I split the booty.

Super nice weather, great seats, stuffed our face on overpriced food, had fun with coworker dude and his girlfriend, since we all sat together - really nice people. He also shares the New Jersey homeland experience, so we get a kick about sharing NJ stories. Ian had a good time and actually paid attention to the game - as opposed to me - who was just enjoying the scene.

On the way home, stopped by the used car lot that's offering the boat sized Chevy wagon I tested a few days ago. Lot was closed, but the car was unlocked, so Ian and checked it out once again. I crawled under there once more with a flashlight to convince myself it's too rusty to purchase. Everything I see is just surface rust, no structural damage. Yeah, eventually there will be - years down the road. Still weighing it out, but I've already dismissed it - I guess.

On the bike front, can feel summer drawing to a close. One commute last week in 55 degree temps and pouring rain. One ride home finished in darkness after getting stuck at work late. Yup, will need to charge up the lights soon. Summer went by quick. Too quick.

Solo mountain bike ride this afternoon. With the rain - dusty conditions have improved - trails in great shape. Solo ride means I could push the pace a bit, so I did. At speed, the 29er still works really well, even with a hardtail. Besides the rolling smoothness of it all, you can feel the cornering benefits over a 26 wheel bike. It just plain works. Sure, I wish it was maybe 3 pounds lighter at times - but that just being picky. Overall, it rocks and so did the trails today.

Over 'N" Out.....

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hot Rods 'R' Us

Bit of a gear head related post today. Even though my interest in moto powered devices has plummeted over the years, I am a bit of a gear head at heart. Motorcycles and cars alike. Number one though for me is still bicycles - no worry there.

I'm more of a foreign car guy and always have been. Small, light, good handling, high rev motors. At times though, I get a kick out of the American hot rod and muscle car scene. I also get a kick out of the subcultures that develop around specific activities and hobbies. The bicycle and hot rod crowds couldn't be more different and mingling between the two is a goof and a bit of fun.

With that, the town of Bothell held it's annual street fair last weekend. A small car show included at no extra charge. Call now, operators are standing by.....

Super clean classic Nova. Old school American car expert I'm not - so have no idea what year this is. Whatever year, really well done. Agree?

Fairly clean Pantera to gawk at. Interesting car - Italian design and American V8 powered. I'd like to drive one of these just once. I'd imagine it being fairly crude, but sorta light and decent handling.

Pantera engine compartment. You just place the grocery bags on top of the transmission. Will that be paper or plastic?

My favorite ride of the show. Some old school hot rod pick up truck. Again, expert I'm not - don't remember what exactly this is.

Race seats and NOS bottle, just the items needed to impress the local Prius driver. This truck also appeared used, not perfect - and that's always a plus in my book.

Super clean restored Bug. Well done, though I don't dig the color combo. This VW has also been listed in Craigslist for weeks now. Asking $12,500, seems pretty steep. I'm a air cooled VW fan and amazed at what some people are asking for nice specimens.

Okay, maybe this is my favorite car of the show. Nice old school Barracuda.

Rear view of 'Cuda. I still remember seeing one of these for the first time as a young kid in the '60s. Yeah, I'm old.

Okay, that car show is over and now time for another one (of sorts). I've occasionally searched for a 1991 - 1996 era Chevy or Buick wagon online. Last of the old school, rear wheel drive, V8 powered beast. I thought it would make a cool family and bike hauler. Part hot rod, part mini van, something out of the norm, fairly cheap to buy and way different then what I usually drive. Despite my fascination with these oversized freaks of nature, I've never driven one.

Since my car blew up months ago, we've been living with one car (quite successfully thanks to bike geek me), but I've cranked up the search a bit for something used. At times, the second car is useful, but since it sits in the driveway most of the time - looking for something cheap, but semi-reliable. I'm all over the map looking at various rigs, from Toyota Yaris with remaining warranty, to early '90s era Miyatas, to mini vans, to air cooled VWs.

A few days ago, noticed a '96 Caprice wagon at a local used car lot. Time for further investigation. I check it out and take the family for a test drive. What a goof - huge smiles all around. Fits 8 people, with the rear seats folded down two people can easily camp back there. Chevy 5.7 V8 motor allows the monstrosity to accelerate way faster then you'd think. From what I've read online, 17 - 22 mpg, lame - but inline with many SUVs and mini vans. Smurfy, cushy interior. Years ago I'd gag at it, now a source of amusement. 79,000 miles, super clean body, asking $4400. I can picture some cheap black mags on the thing and 4 bike rails on the included roof rack. Windows are already blacked out. The mind considers the idea of owning this white beached whale.

Sales Dude tells me to take it home for the night. I tell him I need to work the next day - don't worry about - bring it back tomorrow night. Whoo hoo, extended test drive. I drive it home cracking up the whole way. Once home, break out the flashlights and call the neighbor for serious inspection. Everything looks great, except for a fair amount of rust underneath the whale's great white belly. This whale has sampled some salt in it's diet. It all appears to be surface rust to me. It also has a bit of an oil leak under the pan and the rear differential is seeping a bit. Otherwise, everything else looks great and it runs really well.

Neighbor declares it not worthy of purchase - but he admits it should be fine for years - just not for him. After blowing it around the neighborhood a bit, complete with big grins, I crawl back under it with a screwdriver and flashlight to poke around some more. Besides two small pinholes in the front wheel wells, most of the rust appears to surface rust on the frame and other areas. Nothing pokes through and I think its structurally sound. I decide to drive it to work the next day and have a ex-mechanic coworker give his opinion.

The drive to work is a goof, I dig this stupid rig. I bring cardboard to lay on, flashlight, screwdriver and rag to wipe hands off. Thoughtful me. Two coworker dudes crawl under there and poke around. They both declare it a bit rusted, the underbelly of the beast is a little sick. Far from perfect, but same opinion that it should last for years.

We're talking a $4000 car here, if it ran for 4 years - cheaper per month then what people pay for iPhone service. Still, I elect to return it and walk away. On the return trip, I still dig the thing - it's just stupid fun. Totally no pressure Sales Dude takes back the keys and I tell him a few people have declared it a touch too rusty. Visions of my hot rod family/bike hauler/camping freak mobile will have to pass. I'm a bit bummed as the wife and family pick me up.

The great white whale.

My, that's a mighty big rear end you have.

I'm still considering the mighty beast, but will probably come to my senses. Then again, maybe not. The search continues.