Monday, December 31, 2007

Snow Bored

Star's in town for a couple days and we're supposed to hit Mt. Baker for some boarding tomorrow. Over the last four winters(in MO and AZ) all I wanted was to hit the slopes, this year I've got good snow just a short drive away and can't seem to get excited at all. I'd rather be riding my bike. Go figure, I guess we'll see if I rekindle the passion tomorrow.

Stock photo of Star from last years Tahoe trip.

Tool Nerd

That's me! I've been a bit of a tool nerd for quite some time, which I'm sure is part of what drew me to construction in the first place. I've spent a fair amount time in the shop in the last week and this thing kicks some serious ass.

Boy, would I ever love to have one of my very own, but on the flip side I hope to never actually need one.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Top 5 rides for 2007

I did a fair number of rides in a lot of places this year and I decided to take a moment to look back at my favorites. These rides are my favorites in retrospect by the way, not all were pleasant at the time, but they most certainly are the ones I look back on the most fondly.

5. Old Pueblo - January

This was the pre-ride from hell for Star and I. I can't recall ever seeing weather going so bad so fast, not from a bike saddle anyway. I was dressed for summer from the waist down, not really the best for the ~55 degree start, much less the 30 degree temperature drop that happened over the following two hours. Being well insulated like I am I handled the cold rather well and warmed up pretty quickly once back in the car. While all outward appearances would lead the casual observer to believe that Star was better prepared it took a full two hours for her to stop shivering from the cold once we started for home.

4. Riverside State Park - October

It's where I got my mountain bike start and holds a place near and dear in my heart. This was my first ride at RSP in over four years. I was looking forward to it for quite some time and it didn't disappoint. Len and I did the basic loop that we used to ride all the time back in the day and I was tickled to find it just as enjoyable now as it was then.

3. Sedona - November

Dad and Crazy Joe are two of my favorite people to turn pedals with and I got the opportunity two combine both of them with a kick ass Sedona loop. What more could a guy ask for?

2. The Squealer - April

The hardest day I had in the last year, got my ass handed to me too. I had been pretty sick all week and running on no sleep. It was also my first coast to coast National ride. I don't think there was a single moment that I actually enjoyed at the time but it all seems like so much fun looking back on it. I would really like to give it another go one of these days.

1. McKenzie River Trail - August

Un fucking believable.

nuff said.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

White Christmas

I chickened out on Christmas riding. I've never had a problem w/ 20 degrees and snow or 40 degrees and rain but when the weather falls right in the middle I turn into a wuss. So I went to a movie instead.

By the way, this is how I set the bar impossibly high for myself in the future.

Monday, December 24, 2007


Made it over to the Colonnade today, and with my bike no less. Spent about 45 minutes riding and 15 minutes shooting waiting for Michele to get off work. Very cool shit is happening there and even though I won't be going anywhere near the advanced stuff I'm pretty damn excited about it.

Pump track under construction

Very nice incorporation of the storage box into the stunts

The Starbuck's bench has a cupholder, go figure

Advanced area, AKA phase 2
Holy Chute, the camera is not tilted by the way

From the top, the scary part to me is the little bit of mud at the end

Nice use of freeway pier

Obligatory bike shot

Lots of switchbacks in phase 1, very cool

Somehow I didn't notice this until I was just about to leave

Solid piece of work

Sunday, December 23, 2007

No ride, but at least I got something done.

After dropping Michele off at the hospital at 6:30 this morning I got right to work on the final assembly of her main present. Unfortunately the box is not wrapping conducive so I just threw a red sheet over it followed by some ribbon. Wrap job aside I think I've really outdone myself this year. Perhaps even more so than the infamous iPod Christmas.

I had a little emergency situation requiring my immediate attention in North Bend preventing me from getting out there on my bike, but tomorrow it's on. At a minimum I'm heading over to check out Colonnade before I pick up Michele at the end of her call shift.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Not Gone and Not Forgotten

Last time I rode the bike formerly known as Unit I discovered some stripped out slider threads. I ordered some new ones from Recycled Cycles earlier in the week and picked them up yesterday. Just showing a little love for the "not as new" bike.

I'd like to draw your attention to a couple of things about these new parts. First you'll notice the little tabs on the back end of the sliders, little bolt goes through there allowing for fine fore-aft adjustment. Secondly, you'll notice the lack of a derailer hanger, there is a hanger equipped slider out there but I'm committed to not bastardizing my bike, so there you go.

Also I drug both bikes out of the garage today for a real(ish) comparison photo. The bikes fit very much the same. Seat to grips is much closer than it looks in the picture within about 10mm or so. BB is actually a bit lower on the El Mariachi and it's noticeable on the trail, but can easily be adjusted out with the eccentric. Very happy with my two bike stable.

I'm not holding my breath or anything, but I might actually get out and ride one of these two tomorrow.

Friday, December 21, 2007


I got tagged, thanks Snakebite. For those that don't know, blog tagging is the blog comments equivalent of a chain letter. Once tagged you post five things about yourself and then tag five more. I'm not a big fan of this sort of game, but it's been in my head all day so I'm going to play along. I will not however be tagging anyone else, if you're reading this and wish you had been tagged than go for it, if not you won't get any flak from me.

Five things you may not know about me(including one that I'm sure will surprise even Michele):

1. I was ranked 198 out of 199 in my high school graduating class. I made a decision at some point during high school that homework was pointless and just stopped doing it. I've done very well on nearly every test I've ever taken and I used that ability to to scrape past, just barely. By the way, #199 didn't graduate.

2. After high school I moved to Denver to join a program called Americorps National Civilian Community Corps. During the two years I was in the Corps I traveled all over the country and preformed many different tasks in the name of public service. The Corps is where I got my real start in construction, sheds in Lubbock, Habitat in Denver, and building with bales in Colorado Springs. I also met Michele, who would later become my wife, while in the Corps. It was a life changing experience for me and many others and I would highly recommend it to any young person in search of direction.

3. I grew up without a TV in the house until I was 14. In retrospect I think it was the worst parenting decision my parents ever made. TV was my crack as a kid. Any time I was around a TV in those days I was totally fixated. When we finally did get a TV, I spent at least a year solid(maybe more) doing nothing more than watching the box. Even now I tend to fall into the watch whatever the fuck is on trap.

4. When I was still very young and living in Portland my parents volunteered to provide emergency transitional housing to Vietnamese refugees. We had a lot of families come through our house for a few days to couple weeks before moving on to more permanent digs. I figure I was four or five when Tung came to stay for just two weeks and ended up staying for the next six years. He quickly became "Uncle" Tung and was an integral part of our family. I haven't seen him in maybe eight years but my parents still get Christmas cards from him every few years. He goes by Peter these days and worked R&D at Intel not too long ago, if you happen to know him, tell him to drop a line.

5. I count everything. Ok, not everything, but I count a whole lot of things. So far your confused so let me explain. Say I'm bored while waiting for someone and see a phone number on the side of a delivery van. Now lets say that number is 888-987-2913. First I'll add up the numbers, 8+8+8+9+8+7+2+9+1+3=63. Break it into primes, 63=7x3x3. Add the primes, 7+3+3=13. 13 is double digit prime and that what I'm usually after. Sometimes I'll mix it up by doing this: 888+987+2913=4788, 4+7+8+8=27, 2+7=9. There are all sorts of other ways that I play with the numbers and this was just a small sample. So far this is not really counting but I do that too, ceiling tiles for example. It's not a compulsion, just something I do when I need something to occupy my mind. It's the reason I'm so good at lumber calculations, figuring board foot numbers and minimizing waste often faster than anyone else onsite even with the help of a calculator. Of course, even though I'm rarely wrong I always second guess myself ultimately making the calculator faster.

Well that's it. So I'm a little crazy, you got a problem with that?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Mudday! Mudday! MUDDAY!!!

As planned I headed up to Anacortes yesterday to ride ACFL again. This time however I had a local guide. Matt and I met at the Heart Lake parking lot and headed towards Cranberry.

I decided to ride the El Mariachi, which as it turns out was a bad choice. Who would have thought a super wide tire with small closely spaced knobs wouldn't work so well in the mud? Oh yeah, me. I ended up walking many of the climbs because my rear tire would not hook up, at all. I was also sliding out all over the place. In spite of all that it was a great ride.

Matt was a good guide and provided the very welcome local knowledge, including where to get some post ride calories.

We were out for a little over three hours and covered maybe 14 miles. It's been since Sedona since I've ridden that kind of distance, or any significant distance really and I certainly felt the hurt by the end. On the plus side, I really liked how well the bike handled the tight switchbacks even with the wheelbase considerably longer than that of the bike formerly known as Unit.

Hey, I cleaned this climb!

Again, great ride and well worth the drive up from Seattle. Michele and I already talked about it a little in passing but I think in deserves mentioning again, Anacortes can definitely go on the future home of Sean and Michele shortlist.

Dirty bike?

Clean it up, with a handful of quarters.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Worst. Post. Ever.

Michele's in bed, recovering from her second 30 hour shift since Monday, second one without sleep too. I'm just trying to fill the evening by subjecting you, the reader, to some general randomness.

Speaking of Michele and her work, US News and World Report was on site for three hours yesterday morning taking pictures during rounds for the upcoming best hospitals and blah blah blah issue. Look for my lady coming soon to a newsstand near you.

I usually don't feel very motivated to post the work of others but this is just too good to pass up.

Looks like I've got a little project ahead of me. My company has a full cabinet shop, I could turn out some nice rollers in no time. I don't see how the whole thing could cost me more than $18.95.

On to more important matters. Tomorrow I'm headed up to Anacortes for another go at ACFL, just need to be home in time to get to the company Christmas party. I'm still undecided on what bike to take. 29er is new and fun but inappropriate tires and the 26er is not the still very new bike that I want to ride. What to do?

Last little thought for today, somehow I spent two hours in the Clyde Hill Tully's staring at MS Project and I don't feel like my planning for Yarrow Point is any further along than it was yesterday. The job should get rolling full swing right after New Years, just as North Bend is finally winding down. Mom requested more work pictures so I'll get some interesting stuff along those lines up here real soon.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Very exciting, for me at least

The install of the pictured mass of copper was finished today at my North Bend job and it makes me very happy.

Now the question is, can anybody tell me what it is and what makes it so cool?

Saturday, December 8, 2007

As the wheel turns...

I had to get out there today. I'm feeling the hurt from my work week both physically and psychologically and needed to do something to loosen things up even if I didn't really feel up to it.

I headed over to Seattle's giant hampster wheel known as Green Lake Park in search of the dirt jumps and the new skatepark I've heard so much about.

Found the skatepark. I think I've got a pretty decent handle on material and labor costs and I'm interested to see what 850,000 in municipal dollars buys the skaters these days.

Oh yeah, I found the dirt jumps too. And some dirt jumpers.

I have always loved watching people much more skilled than I tearing shit up in this manner.

I'm just too gravitationally challenged for this kind of thing.

The full set can be found here. I'll leave them up on Picassa for at least a couple of weeks.
You(the pictured riders) have my permission to use these shots however you like.

Gratuitous beauty shot.

Friday, December 7, 2007

What a fucking week.

I would sure like one of these right about now...

...but I'm sure as hell not leaving the house tonight.

Sunday, December 2, 2007


They fit, and just barely out back. Good for pavement and off the bike in under 10 seconds when not needed.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

It's coming down.

I guess not so much right now, but it sure did earlier.

Done and done, but...

Cables now at their proper length, nearly ready to start riding again.

And then there is this.

Shot an email off to the shop, I think it's ok but I'd like Peter's opinion before I go about my merry buisness.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

26er vs. 29er

Four times in the last week and a half I've tried to compose a post comparing my two bikes but I just can't seem to get the job done. As far as I'm concerned the bike serve two completely different purposes making for an unfair comparison.

Anyway, I guess I can at least give my impressions how the new bike rides. For the first half of my Sedona break-in ride I had a hell of a time climbing on the El M. Mid-ride I had a revelation about my riding style and started treating the new bike like a SS. I picked a decent middle gear and everything just clicked into place. It was like night and day, I could climb again. For easier climbs I picked a slightly harder gear and vice-versa. The bike climbs and descends very well, large obstacles were handled with relative ease.

It didn't feel quite as snappy as my other bike nor did it really handle switchbacks as well, of course this can be attributed to my level of familiarity. The whole low speed handling is kind of interesting to me because the El M felt quite balanced during the first turns around the parking lot. The bike formerly known as Unit has been slacked out by the 100mm fork and feels a little sluggish just riding around but quite nimble when push comes to shove and the El M was just the opposite.

The last thing that really struck me about the new bike was the amount of flex in the rigid fork. I've ridden many a rigid mountain bike but never one with a fairly light and intentionally flexy fork. I never felt that the flex was a detriment and didn't notice it at all in relation to steering.

I've still got some cable to shorten and grips to swap and the bike will be all ready for some riding this weekend.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Safe and sound in Seattle

"What do we have here?"

"And you say you really need this?"

Yes, yes I do.

I just can't get over how purdy it is. The bike suffered one badly bent brake rotor during shipping, and all of my spares are the older Avid 165s and don't play nice with the newer 160 setup. Time with the Park DT-2 didn't really help all that much. Other than that, the bike is no worse for the wear and I'm looking forward to getting out there with it.

On a non-bike related note, I'd like to draw your attention to the Christmas stocking disparity in our household. That's how I roll, bitches!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Tree's up.

I heart Heart Lake

Michele and I went up to Anacortes today to check out Heart Lake. It was a beautiful day for it and the trails we hit were a shitload of fun, even if there was a bit of walking involved. I'm going to have to get back up there to check out the rest of the ACFL one of these days.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Dirty bike?

Anacortes put off until tomorrow, leaving me a good opportunity to deal with the mess left behind from the last ride.

The places I have yet to ride

The new issue of Bike hit my mailbox today and got me thinking. Many years ago, when I first started mountain biking, I only rode the trails right out my door in Spokane. I couldn't really see why I would ever need more than what my little park could provide. I occasionally ventured off to do other trails, but never far from home. Mt. Spokane, High Drive, Liberty Lake, Beacon Hill, never anything more than a half hour away and still fairly similar terrain. By the time we left Spokane for Missouri, MTB trail wanderlust had set in completely. I wanted to do it all and was building up a decent little list in my head.

In the last couple of years I've ridden in some amazing places and knocked a few very big trails off of the list. Sedona, National Trail, and MRT come to mind right away.

Here's what's currently on the list, in alphabetical order.

Crested Butte, CO - Twice I've been to CB and the first time Michele and I had bikes with us, at least we did when we started our trip. An unfortunate Yakima failure led to the loss of our bikes and a MTB free stay in CB. Poor and not feeling able to absorb any unplanned expenses, I refused to rent a bike, even with Michele urging me to. I retrospect I really should have gotten a rental, oh well, that's hindsight for you.

Fruita, CO - I spent a couple months in Palisades, just a few miles away from Fruita back in '96. I didn't have my bike with me or any idea of what Fruita had to offer at the time. I was back in Spokane by the time the buzz reached me.

Gallup, NM - Gallup is a recent addition to the list, I heard about what the area had to offer only a couple years ago. The last time I was in Gallup I even had my bike and the option to ride but all I wanted to do was bust-a-move back to the 'nix so I've only got myself to blame that it's still on this list.

Gooseberry Mesa - I don't remember the first time I heard about Gooseberry, but it was a while back. It's a full day's drive from Phoenix and I made plans a couple times to head up there and it never happened. Totally my fault that it never happened.

Grand Canyon North Rim - Again it's a fairly new addition to the list and supposed to be relatively tame, but it's the fucking Grand Canyon. How can it not be on any self respecting mountain biker's list.

Maah Daah Hey Trail - This is the first trail I remember feeling that I really wanted to ride. I read about it in an issue of Bike sometime in the early nineties. It's the first time I ever really thought about riding somewhere other than the trails I already knew.

Moab, UT - Been to Moab, ridden in Moab, but only Slickrock Trail and rumor has it that's just the tip of the iceberg. Not a big priority to get back but it still makes the list.

Mt. St. Helens - Close by and supposed to be fantastic riding. It's my understanding that there are still some access issues due to last winter's storms but still good for multi day riding.

Orcas Island - This is a fairly new addition to the list. My one big plan for '08(not including NAHBS) right now is to make sure that I get up to Orcas for a multi day bike camping/mtb adventure, and that's why I'm now the proud owner of a brand spanking new El Mariachi.

Seven Summits Trail - Heard about the trail in passing a couple years ago but the new issue of Bike is what actually put it on the list. Not too far away from here and a definite candidate for a quicky trip this summer, if I ever get around to getting a new passport anyway.

You'll notice no middle America or right coast trails on this list. Not because I don't have any interest in say Pisgah or State College, but I just don't see traveling that far for a ride. Then again there was a time when I didn't see driving across town so you never know.

Friday, November 23, 2007


Michele had a call shift on Wednesday and she crashed hard yesterday when she got home. We had talked about heading down to Portland to see my extended family or going over to Spokane to see Rachel's people but it just wasn't happening. When she finally got up around six neither of us had much interest in attempting to put something together so we drove out into the night in search of a meal. It took a little while but we found a little Thai place in Fremont that was open and happy to serve us.

Anyway, fast forward to today and our real Thanksgiving dinner. We went over to the house of one of Michele's co-interns and had a real feast laid out for us. In all there were about 12 or 13 people there. Lots of beer, a big ass turkey, green bean casserole, cheese plate, and of course pie.

Tomorrow we're going to head up to Anacortes to do a little riding and work off the meal. Should be a good time, or an outright train wreck.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The rest of the weekend...

Sunday dad and I started moving around the apartment pretty slow. The fact that I had not ridden much the past couple months was pretty obvious by the way I felt in the morning. Achy all over, but not really full on hurting. We finally got around to loading up a little after 9 and headed to the preserves, 32nd St trailhead. Dreamy Draw had been tossed around as a starting point but since it's climbing in every direction I really wasn't feeling it.

We started on Michele's Loop to 40th and up 8 to 8a, over to 1a all the way to DD, side trails to the North end of 220, 220 to conversation point, and down the Zipper back to the truck from there. There were sections of trail that I traveled at greater speeds than I ever have before simply because of the gears, and a couple other sections that were easier due to the larger tires. It was a good ride at a decent pace. Near the end I gave dad the choice of three paths and he of course chose the one with the most hike-a-bike but it did get us back to the top of the zipper and that's always fun.

Post ride we hit Sabuddy for lunch and then dropped the bike off at Rage to be shipped back. It should hit my door sometime early next week. Later we took Char to LGO for dinner and the Gelato Spot for dessert. I went ahead and crashed on her couch last night and she dropped me off at early this morning.

The camera never made it back out after Saturday so no pictures, sorry.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ride baby, ride!

Dad and I loaded up the bikes this morning and drove up to Sedona for a proper new bike break-in. Crazy Joe and Gordo the Wonder Dog made the trip down from Flag to help with the festivities.

Once we had our shit together we all rolled out through Oak Creek Village toward Baldwin. After a mile and a half or so of pavement we shot off toward red dirt on on some unknown trail in search of adventure. Our little shortcut got more and more faint until it disappeared completely in a wash. Now bushwacking and walking we made our way back to real trail and the road in search of Baldwin, Buddha, and Templeton. Once the start of Baldwin was found the rest of the ride really just fell into place.

Up to Templeton, on a brand spanking new bike.

Joe, on the sidewalk.

Dad, loving the trail.

Closed? Yeah, right! Really though, after consulting a map post ride we really should have continued on Templeton but oh well.

Hauling ass just for the camera.

Joe and Gordo doing a little bushwacking.

Not a very big ride by six months ago standards but it sure kicked my ass today. Something a little more mild perhaps tomorrow. Sleep well little big wheeled bike.

Bike formerly known as Unit vs. El Mariachi thoughts, impressions, comments, and concerns will be forthcoming within the next week or so.