Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sell Me A Story

Years ago I went to see Tim O'Brien, the author of The Things They Carried and many other fine books, speak about writing and read from one of his novels. When asked the inevitable "how did you become a writer?" question, Tim responded by saying "I have a job were I make up stories and people buy them. How could I not take a job like that? Let me tell you about one summer in the sixties..."

He goes on to tell about a fellow named Tim O'Brien growing up in a northern state, who has plans and dreams and one day he gets a draft notice telling him to report for duty. He tells of a trip to a wilderness lake, one that borders Canada and of that young man there with a canoe and the draft notice in his pocket and thoughts in his head about the choices we make and the lives that we live. Leaving that canoe on one side of the lake or the other would make difference on that day and all the days that follow...

"Wow," Tim says, glancing at his watch, "it's getting pretty late. Are there any other questions?" The reading room at Elliott Bay Books erupts in a chaotic chorus all asking the same question "What did you decide on the shore of that lake? Did you go to Canada or Viet Nam?"

Tim smiles broadly at this room full of people who buy his stories, "I have a job where I make up stories and people buy them..."

I have a job where I sell and repair bicycles. Unlike Mr. O'Brien, I don't only sell a story. At the end of the day the thing that I say will roll and shift and stop on command has to actually roll and shift and stop on command or I will lose customers, credibility and sales. I stay in the bike business by doing my very best to make sure the stories I tell about the bicycles are true.

It is also very true that the most important thing I sell is a story where the customer is happy on their bicycle. What makes my job easy and fun is that I honestly believe that bicycles are easy and fun and good. To make sure that the customer comes to that same conclusion, I work from one basic principle: the most important character in the story is not the bicycle and it certainly isn't me. The most important character in the story is the customer. And that character isn't just a character, that person is the real person who will make this story real.

The two most important things I do with a customer are ask questions and listen to answers. I know a bit about bikes, but I know very little about the person who just walked into my shop. Asking the right questions is something of an art. For example "What kind of bike are you looking for?" isn't nearly as good a question as "what kind of riding do you see yourself doing?" The former question elicits a one or two word response, while the second question reveals much more.

Any dialog is more than questions and answers and anyone who knows me will tell you that I am a guy who tells a lot of stories. I think we all do this, stories are how we make sense of our lives. Stories are one important way that we relate to each other. Together the questions and the answers and the people in the conversation tell a story and our lives are shaped and changed by the stories we tell and live.

A while back a pretty big guy came into the shop and we got to talking. "I don't suppose you have any bikes for a guy my size..." he said. "Me personally? Nope," I said, "I'm a scrawny little guy. But they're making some pretty beefy bikes these days, not just feather-weight race machines. Let me tell you about my friend Scott..." And I proceeded to tell him about my friend Scott, who weighed 500 pounds when he decided to start biking and who had to stop and rest multiple times just to get around the block. But Scott kept riding and these days he weighs about 170 pounds.

And now the story goes a little further because now this guy who is smaller than Scott was and bigger than Scott is has gotten himself a bicycle and is out there riding. Because stories can and do make a difference.

In my days working for the Bicycle Alliance of Washington I learned not to waste my time trying to convince people who don't want to ride in the rain and dark that it can be fun to ride in the rain and dark. Instead when somebody would say "I'd like to bike commute but I don't want to ride in the dark," I'd say "Don't do it!" But then I'd point out that the days are long in the summer so maybe they just want to try bike commuting on summer days. If they wanted to avoid the rain, I'd suggest watching the forecast skipping the rides on the damp days. If their commute was too far to bike, maybe they'd want to try using the bus for part of the trip. The key thing was listening to the objection and not dismissing it. Some times these people never became bike commuters, some became part-time bike commuters but a surprising number after taking that first step find they enjoyed biking to work. And then they realized they might not need to stop riding to work just because of some rain or some darkness. They'd come back, sometimes months later and ask about lights or rain gear. When you start a story, sometimes it goes on longer than you think it will.

Let me tell you another story. Years ago, when I worked at Sammamish Valley Cycle, a fellow comes in and answers my "what kind of riding do you see yourself doing?" question by saying that he's going to be riding across the United States and he's looking for a bike. He's a small guy (and by that I mean he's a bit shorter than me). We don't have a touring bike in stock that will fit him and while I do tell him about the Marinonis we can order, I also tell him about the Adventure Cycling Association, Rivendell, things he should look for in a bike and various used bike possibilities included older non-suspended mountain bikes or older touring frames. I mention Bike Works and I can't now recall if he nodded and said he knew about them or if I was giving him new info, but I also told him that at his size I thought a 26" wheeled Rivendell Atlantis would be a great bike to look at and the Bob Freeman had them in stock in Seattle at Elliott Bay Bicycles. We wind up talking for well over an hour and eventually this guy, whose name is Bill, goes on his way.

Later, I get a call at the shop. It's Bill. He's at Elliott Bay and he's test ridden the Atlantis. He likes it. "Do you think I should buy it?" he asks.

"If you like it and it fits you and you can afford it, sure. It's a good bike," I reply.

"But I feel guilty, you spent so much time with me..." Bill explains.

"Look," I say, "Bob's got a good bike there. Buy it and don't worry. If you want you can come back here and I'll be happy to sell you a whole bunch of touring bags and other stuff for your trip."

And that's how I met Bill Lippe. Bill did buy the bike from Bob at Elliott Bay and some bags from me and took his trip across the U.S. He also got quite involved in bicycling in the Seattle area and over the years various people came into Sammamish Valley Cycle, bought bikes and said "Bill Lippe sent me." Quite a few years later I wound up sending my resume and application for an interesting job at Bike Works, the funky little non-profit in the Columbia City neighborhood of Seattle. I'd done some volunteer work at Bike Works before and I knew a lot of the staff through some joint projects they'd done with the Bicycle Alliance of Washington. I'm pretty sure I wound up getting the job through my merits, but I also know that I probably got the interview because I had a strong recommendation from the Bike Works Board President, a fellow named Bill Lippe.

When you start a story, sometimes it goes on longer than you think it will.

I have a job where I tell stories about people and bicycles. People buy the bicycles, ride them and are happy. How could I not take a job like that?

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cars Are Hazardous

(Courtesy of Bentley Motors)

It has come to the attention of the good people at Bentley Motors that their "Winged B" hood ornament could injure a pedestrian in the event of a crash. The spring mount of the ornament is designed to retract in the case of such an unfortunate event, but alas the mechanism may corrode, leading to failure and thus Bentley has issued a preventative recall. I, for one, applaud Bentley's application of conscience in this matter and look forward to the logical consequence of this precedent, namely that auto manufacturers and the public at large will recognize that placing several tons of metal in motion is hazardous to human life and we will recall vast numbers of these dangerous machines. Until that day, I will continue to point people towards resources that will allow them to reduce their dependence on these hazardous devices and increase their chances at avoiding unfortunate encounters with machines of excessive momentum. In that spirit, I invite everyone to spend a few minutes looking at Michael Bluejay's excellent site: How Not To Get Hit By Cars.

While my own preferences have lead me to construct a life in which I avoid interactions with personal motor vehicles as much as possible, many people successfully use their cars or trucks to transport their bikes. People do this successfully every day, but I work in a bike shop and at least a few times a year I get to see what happens when the car+bike story ends as tragically as the scorpion+frog story.

Image and sad story via theZeph

If you do carry your bike on a roof rack, always, always, always remember it is there. Because if you don't and you drive home into your garage or through a bank drive-thru or into a parking garage, you may get that loud, sickening reminder like theZeph did. I know some folks stuff their garage remote into an old cycling glove to help them remember. I think if I were in a position to be piloting such a big rig, I'd remember the cautionary fable sung by C.W. McCall in which he recounts a sign saying "clearance to the twelve-foot line, but the chickens was stacked to thirteen-nine."

Rear racks are not without their own perils, however. I know several people who have had their bikes smashed when their cars were rear ended, a few that have had their bikes fall off their racks and just this past Sunday I sold a new tire to a fellow whose bike tire had been toasted by a too hot tailpipe.

Since I'm not a car-driver, I have no sage advice other than this: cars are hazardous. Remember that.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

One Watt Tail Lights Compared: Planet Bike Super Flash Turbo vs. PDW RADBOT 1000

My wife will tell you that I have something of an obsession with bicycle lights. I don't stop riding when it gets dark and I'm a big fan of things that light up and reflect. LED technology keeps evolving and the lights of today get far more light from a pair of batteries than the lights of just a few years ago. Since there is still no free lunch in the physical world, lighting designers have to make trade-offs between battery life and brightness. I personally use several different tail lights on my bikes, some simple ones where the batteries seem to last forever and some lights in the "blindingly bright" category that are quite visible even in daylight but whose battery life never matches the optimistic claims that decorate their packaging.

Several years ago Planet Bike introduced the Superflash, a dazzling tail light that used a half-Watt LED and a couple of smaller LEDs. The Superflash quickly became quite popular with randonneurs, commuters and anyone looking for a very bright tail light.

When Dan and Erik left Planet Bike to start their own company, Portland Design Works, one of their products, the RADBOT 1000, pushed tail light brightness even further. The RADBOT 1000 uses a one-Watt LED, has a built-in reflector and was noticeably brighter than the Superflash. PDW also makes a half-Watt version of the RADBOT, the RADBOT 500. While the RADBOT 500 was basically directly competing with the Superflash in terms of runtime and brightness and was the light that Dan and Erik both use on their own commuting bikes, the RADBOT 1000 far outshone the RADBOT 500 both in brightness and sales. The market seemed to say, in terms of brightness, more is better.

The folks at Planet Bike don't stay on the top of the bike lighting game by sitting on their hands, so this spring they are releasing a one-Watt version of the Superflash, the Superflash Turbo. It's not in stores yet, so I don't have a link where you can buy one, but the good folks at Planet Bike did send me one of their lights so I could review it. And by the way, the people I've dealt with at both Planet Bike and Portland Design Works are good folks. Both companies are staffed by genuine bike geeks and both contribute a portion of their profits to bicycle advocacy.

The Planet Bike Superflash Turbo is the same size as the original Superflash and it has the same switch mechanism and mounting hardware. The switch toggles the light between off, flashing and steady modes. As you can see in the above photos, the RADBOT 1000 is a bit bigger than the Superflash Turbo, but both lights use basically identical mounting hardware and can interchange in their brackets. BTW, the RADBOT lights come with one more bracket that the Planet Bike lights, a handy bracket for mounting the light on a rear rack.

I didn't take photos of both lights with fresh batteries but the lights are basically identically eye-searingly bright with fresh batteries. Think painful. Think about not staring directly at these lights. Think about Nazis opening the Ark of the Covenant in that Indiana Jones movie. That's about how bright these lights are. They overwhelmed my camera's settings, so I gave up taking pictures of the lights with fresh batteries.

I do know that marketing claims of "up to 100 hours on 2 AAA batteries" are basically fiction. Maybe in flashing mode with lithium batteries or something (and even then I'm very doubtful), but I figured I'd test these in something close to a fair "apples to apples" comparison. I loaded each light with freshly charged Rayovac rechargeable AAA cells. Now to be fair to the lights tested, these are pretty low capacity rechargeable batteries. Read the battery review here.

Jun Nogami ran an interesting test on battery life comparing the Radbot 1000 to the original Superflash. Now that I had both lights in hand, I set out with my lights and my batteries to recreate his test. I don't have a test bench or even a very good camera but I did record some results the old fashioned way. I turned the lights on to their solid mode and checked them every half hour or so. Here's what I found.

At 4.5 hours, the PDW Radbot 1000 was noticeably dimming. The Planet Bike Superflash Turbo still was going strong.

At 5.0 hours, both lights were visibly dimming. The Planet Bike Superflash Turbo was about twice as bright as the Radbot 1000 at this point in the test.

At about 6.0 hours, the Planet Bike Superflash Turbo shut itself off. The Radbot 1000 was still glowing dimly. Less than half an hour later, the Radbot 1000 also shut down.

These results are consistent with Jun's findings. Letting the lights "rest" for a bit and turning them back on, they'd light for a bit (ten minutes or so) and then shut down. This doesn't mean these are bad lights, but it does show that bright lights draw a lot of power. And that you shouldn't believe the packaging.

My own approach to lighting is redundancy. I'll use a very bright light like the Superflash Turbo or a RADBOT 1000 but after every ride I check the brightness of the lights and change batteries as needed. I carry spare batteries with me. I also use lights that use lower power LEDs to get more useful light out of a set of batteries. And, as someone is sure to comment, a generator hub is one of the best, most reliable ways to ensure you have lights that will run all night.

Keep 'em rolling. And, if you ride at night, keep 'em lit.

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What's In A Name?

A fellow who goes by the name @VeloDoc posted this on Twitter:
"We're not bikers! Bikers ride Harley's. We are cyclists!!"
I understand for many people that the term "Biker" may conjure an image of Marlon Brando in The Wild One, I for one, am unwilling to grant exclusive use of the term "biker" to those whose two-wheeled machines are motorized. While I know that in a world where we drive on parkways and park on driveways that this may be a losing battle, it is a battle I have fought for years and will continue to fight as long as I have the strength to speak, type or turn a pedal. I have been, and always shall be, a biker.

The machine I ride, I call a bike. I go on bike rides. I work in a bike shop. I sometimes ride with a bike club. In the woods I go mountain biking.

I don't grab my cycle and go cycling. I don't belong to a cycle club. Maybe you do and if so, great. I'm sure that works fine for you. But don't tell me I have to go cycling.

I'm grabbing my bike and going biking.

Because I'm a biker.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Small Is Beautiful

Sarah Chan is stylish and practical on her Dahon D3.

While there isn't a single wheel size that is perfect for every bicycle, owning various small-wheeled bikes over the years has given me an opportunity to get acquainted with the virtues of having a petite machine. While my 29er Octocog is a machine well-suited for the high, rocky wilderness, tiny wheels let my Dahon D3 go many places that my 29er cannot. The city, the train station and the crowded coffee shop all remind me that small is beautiful.

On her blog Sarah Chan tells this story:

"...we ran into some guys who were ogling the bike and having a smoke while I unfolded the Dahon back into it's fully functional form.

A few minutes passed with chit chat about the thing, and I offered for one of the guys to test ride it up and down the block since he was so curious about whether it was fast at all. This is where his friend told him that the only important thing was knowing it was faster than walking. I never heard somebody put it that way before but... that's a good way of looking at it!"

While it is true that small wheels don't hold their speed the way a bigger wheel does, that lack of momentum when rolling means that the wheels also have less inertia when stopped. A little wheeled bike rolls up to speed rapidly and the bike is very maneuverable. The way I tend to describe it is by saying that the little wheels may not be fast, but they are quick. In stop and go city riding, my Dahon tends to be my fastest bike.

People also seem to have a hard time grasping that gear ratios can let a small wheel cover a decent bit of distance for a given pedal stroke. I've ridden a full super-randonneur brevet series as well as Paris-Brest-Paris and London-Edinburgh-London on a 20 inch wheeled Bike Friday and I lost track of how many times I've been asked "don't you have to pedal a lot more to make those little wheels go?" Eventually I just gave up trying to explain the gearing and instead decided to look very serious and say "Yes, it is much, much harder. Fortunately, I'm much tougher than all those other fellows!" And, for the record, Matteo Luzzana is even tougher than I am. He rode LEL on a Brompton T3.

My first folding bike was a Bridgestone Picnica, the machine that made a horrible commute wonderful. At the time (about 26 years ago), Christine and I were living in Bridgeport, CT, she was a brand-new stay-at-home mom and I was working in White Plains, NY. The drive along I-95 was miserable, but I found a van-pool that went from Stratford CT to Purchase NY. So instead of fighting traffic everyday in a car and pouring a lot of gas in a tank, I paid my way into the van-pool. In the morning, I'd ride my bike to Stratford and fold the bike. The bike and I rode in the van to Purchase where I unfolded the bike and rode to White Plains. In the evenings, the process was reversed. I saved money, time and a lot of aggravation. I could read on the van instead of fume at traffic. I got exercise everyday riding my bike. My folding bike and the van-pool made bike commuting possible, even in an "impossible" situation.

While the classic folding bike scenario is a multi-modal journey involving a van or a train or a bus or a plane, having a compact bicycle has many other rewards. Lynette Chang, author of "The Handsomest Man in Cuba" and inventor of the Traffic Cone Bag, rides a Bike Friday because, as she says, "it fits her five-foot-nothing self." Folding bikes are a great option for shorter people looking to get a quality bike. While it can often be hard to find a good conventional bike that fits a person of short stature, folding bikes tend to size down well. This fact can make them great bikes for growing kids, a fact not lost on Anne's daughter over at Car Free Days. Apparently this mothers and daughters sharing bikes thing still holds when the mother and daughter are both adults as well, as evidenced by Melanie and her Mom.

Some folding bikes also fit taller folks. While I personally love my little Dahon Curve D3, it's not a bike I'd recommend to someone over six feet tall. The five-foot tall Sarah Chan does say that her six-foot-four husband sometimes rides her D3 but "Admittedly, it's comical." Actually, that comic effect holds true for darn near anybody on a folding bike, we really do look kind of goofy. And maybe it's my imagination, but it seems to me that drivers are less aggressive when I'm on the Dahon instead of one of my more conventional-looking bikes. I know I'm less aggressive. As I've said before, it is impossible to imagine that you are Lance Armstrong while riding a tiny folding bike.

But tall fellows, like Lazy Rando Vik, can and do log many happy miles on folding bikes. Vik points out another great virtue of a small folding bike in his Bike Locking Case #4. As Vik notes, the best way to lock your bike is to not have to lock your bike by keeping it with you. Tikets, Dahons and Bromptons all fit easily under cafe tables and pack into small corners of small apartments. If you have a car, a folding bike can be quickly and securely stowed in the trunk.

As someone who lives car free in a second story apartment, I can tell you that one reason my Dahon gets used so often is that it is an easy bike to carry up and down stairs. My smallest bike happens to be my lightest bike and my easiest bike to maneuver in tight spots.

Many folks think a cargo bike has to be some massive machine with loads of hauling capacity but in several decades of car free living, I've only found a few occasions where I needed to lug big things around. So, for me, owning a "cargo bike" has never been a priority. Almost every day I do wind up hauling some cargo, but in some sense every bike is a cargo bike. It just depends on how much cargo you are interested in hauling. Melanie's little pink Dahon is the cutest cargo bike ever. If you want to haul more gear but still stick with something compact and foldable, Burley makes a wonderful folding trailer. As the photo of Sarah on the top of this blog illustrates, with the small front wheel there is a lot of room to hang a bag from the handlebars on a folding bike.

Todd from Clever Cycles in Portland wonderfully illustrated just how versatile and fun a folding bike can be by riding his Brompton down the Pacific Coast last August. As Todd described the "perma-grin" that set in on the fifth day of that tour I knew exactly what he meant when he said that he "touched the wire that powers everything." Todd knows that a small machine can connect you with a big, wonderful world. Todd recently reminded me of one of the more interesting aspects of having a small little bike: the social side of things. As Todd says "folding bikes are almost as effective as dogs at breaking social ice. They give strangers something to ask about." If you want to meet people, get a folding bike.

While I'm sure there are many reasons someone might want a folding bike or find one useful, the single best reason I have for owning my little red bike is the big grin it puts on my face pretty much every time I ride it. That, more than anything else, is why I keep those little wheels rolling.

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Drive Fast

It's not very often that I dispense automotive advice. Today, I am. It is Sunday and I'm going to preach a little. My advice is two words, and those two words are "Drive Fast," but I hope you stick with me long enough to hear why that's my advice.

Like pretty much every American, I live in a world designed for driving. My home, like yours I suspect, has a space specifically made for my automobile. My workplace, naturally, has plenty of parking. My bank features a drive-thru teller window, as do most of the coffee shops and fast food places. These fast places are mostly along the wide road, the one just off the swooping freeway exits. In the past hundred years we've put a lot of effort into making it easy to go from here to there quickly and while sometimes we can, too often we can't, so we've invented things like traffic reports, and books on tape to help us cope. And even when we do get from here to there and back again without incident or aggravation, the here and there are not quite like we dreamed. The dreams, the world shown us in the car commercials, is the driver on the open road, a lone car driving beneath blue skies, along a rocky coast or twisting through a green forest. In truth, we build rivers of concrete through our cities. We really do pave paradise to put up parking lots. Every day we chop down trees to make thousands of greasy bags to hold the millions of french fries we scarf down on our important trips to important places.

Far too often, our desires and dreams of rapid mobility are thwarted by all those idiots clogging our damn roads. Where the hell are all these bozos going? I need to be moving, of course, but what's up with the clown in the Honda? Of course, if we stop and breathe and think, we realize that we are all the clown in the Honda, so to speak, and while his errand may, in fact, be more or less important than mine at this moment, his task, to him, is what he needs to be doing.

Hmm, stop and breathe and think. There's an idea. It's an idea that came to me decades ago, when I was stuck in traffic. I wouldn't give up my car, not forever anyway, but maybe I'd take a break, briefly. I decided to drive fast.

Not fast as in zoom, zoom but fast as in take a break. Some people fast for reasons of religion or health, deciding, for example, to abstain from eating meat. I decided to fast from driving, for a while, for my health. Mostly for my mental health.

I think it was easier for me than for many because I really never enjoyed driving. The disconnect between the dream and the reality was always too much for me. Pressing a gas pedal never thrilled me the way turning a bike pedal does. But maybe that's just me.

I do know that my driving fast worked for me. I liked not driving. I liked seeing where I was dependent on having a car, seeing that as a problem and working on that problem. The easiest way to work on the problem was to work on myself and my circumstance. My fast grew from a day without driving to something bigger. I don't hate cars, but I love much of the world that we've been destroying to make way for them. I allied myself with simpler forms of locomotion, like walking and cycling. But I also allied myself with big complex systems like trains and buses. Motor vehicles have their place, but for me I found that place didn't have to be my own parking place with my own car.

Christine and I have lived happily without owning an automobile for just under a quarter of century. We've raised two sons who are now both grown men and who have somehow never bothered to become licensed drivers. This is just the reality of our lives but somehow this has been thought of as news and we wind up giving talks to people who want to know our "secret". The secret is making choices. Everyone makes choices every day and I know my choices will not be yours.

But I do have this advice. Try giving something up. Briefly. It's easy if it's something you don't enjoy or some part of your life that you suspect is not really giving you what you need. Maybe today is the day you drive fast. And by that I mean that maybe today is the day you don't drive. Try it, for a day. Look at your city and your life from the standpoint of a pedestrian or from the seat of a bicycle. You might like some of what you see and you probably won't like some of what you see. But I think you'll find it interesting.

Drive Fast. That's my advice.

Kent Peterson
Issaquah, WA USA

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The Simple Pleasure of a Bike Ride

"Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride." ~ John F. Kennedy

Fans of epic ride reports will do well to skip this post, for there is no drama here. No adversity was overcome to bring you these words, no weather endured unless you count enduring a sunny day in February some sort of hardship. There were no close calls with cars and all canine encounters were most cordial. My machine fell victim to no mechanical maladies and I encountered no obvious injustice to make me righteously rage against the world.

I ride my bicycle and since the day is sunny and my immediate obligations are slight, I ride the long way to the city. The direct route uses the floating bridge and the clever tunnel but the long route follows the shores of lakes and rivers. What was once a native path became the rail line and now that the age of steam is mostly a rusting memory, this route is mostly trails once again.

The sky and the lake are blue, the air is crisp and my clothing is warm enough for the day.

Many of the homes along the trail have privacy fences and one home owner along the route makes and sells pictures for the fences. I always think this one would look more at home in a coffee shop.

There are hundreds of geese at Marymoor Park.

Marymoor Park is also home to a velodrome.

Much of Marymoor park is the old Willowmoor Farm site. The windmill is over one hundred years old.

I have a huge collection of "my bike next to things" pictures. Here's my bike next to the "naked woman sitting on nothing" statue.

It is still early in the ride, but I suspect this will be the oddest photograph of the day.

There is a bunch of salmon-themed art along the trail. This is the Salmon-Moon sculpture in Woodinville.

I pause to browse and grab some lunch at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park and then continue on my way.

The Burke-Gilman Trail is in the Rail Trail Hall of Fame. On sunny days in the summer, it's packed with people. On a sunny day in February, it's not as crowded.

Despite the "it rains all the time" reputation, blue sky days are amazing in Seattle. This is Lake Washington as viewed from Matthews Beach Park.

Yet another picture of my bike next to public art. This is the UW Husky.

One of my favorite bits of home-brew public art.

Yet another view of Lake Washington, looking east towards the Cascades.

The switch-backed road leads back down to the water.

The boats at Leschi with Mount Rainier in the distance.

My favorite road sign on Lake Washington Boulevard.

Looking back at the Seattle skyline from Seward Park.

Mount Rainier as seen from the southern edge of Seward Park

I roll onward to Renton, the land of airplanes. These are some of the little ones.

The Cedar River Trail loops back towards home.

I try to be courteous on the roads and trails, but I suspect I am not the only one who may occasionally exceed this limit. I'd much rather see a sign that says "Don't ride like a jerk!"

The sun is getting low as I turn off the trail. The Cedar Grove Road leads to the Issaquah-Hobart Road which leads me home.

Just a day in the sun, on a bike. A simple day to remember the simple pleasure of a bike ride.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA