Tuesday, February 24, 2009

2009 Bike Works Auction

The youth enrolled in our Earn-a-Bike program end each graduation ceremony by collectively envisioning Bikeopolis, a near future place where bicycling is safe and widespread, and people are healthy, active and good with Allen wrenches. This year, Bikeopolis is the theme for the Bike Works annual fundraiser where we celebrate our successes as well as give you the opportunity to support Bike Works' future through bidding on fabulous donated items and scrumptious desserts.

As shop manager, I volunteered to host a table and I said I'd use my blogtacular powers to talk some of my pals into joining me. Here is where I find out if my set of friends and the set of people with money have any overlap at all!

Here are the details:

What: Bike Works Benefit Auction 2009

When: Sunday March 29th, 2009 – 5 pm until 8:30 pm

Where: Herban Feast, SoDo http://www.herbanfeast.com/

How Much: Tickets - $70, Purchase Tickets @ http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/50320

I've been assured the food will be good and I know the auction supports a great group of folks. There will be all kinds of bikish things to bid on and I'm donating a full custom set of coroplast fenders & bags that some lucky person will win.

Thanks and keep 'em rolling,


Sunday, February 22, 2009

A few more Dahon bits

I haven't written much about my Dahon D3 folding bike lately, but it continues to be the bike I'm most likely to grab for quick runs around town. I still get this big dumb grin on my face every time I ride the D3. I'm tempted to say it's my favorite bike but other times I say that about my Tringle-Speed or my Retro-Direct or some other bike-de-jour and I realize that I come off sounding like Matt and Trey introducing each episode on the South Park Season One DVD. I guess I just like my life and my bikes. I'd probably get more blog traffic if I wrote one of those drama-filled "how-my-life-sucks-today" blogs, but since I've pretty much succeeding in avoiding the bummer life and tend to see the glass as neither half-full nor half-empty but rather twice the size needed for the given task, I mostly write about the interesting small glasses I've found.

So, yeah, Dahon stuff. The guys at Dahon liked a little poem I wrote about my D3 last year, and they nicely asked me if they could reprint it. I told 'em to go right ahead and they did a little interview with me and put the poem in their new catalog and their online newsletter. I got a little bit of schwag out of the deal but it's not like they are sending me prototypes of the new Curl in order to buy good-will in the blogosphere. (BTW, Dahon folks, if you're reading this, I bet that would totally work! Really.)

Speaking of the Curl, this thread on the Strida forum has a better picture of the Curl and a couple of the patent drawings from 2007. It shows the basics of how the bike looks folded and unfolded. It doesn't give any idea what color the final bike will be. Again, Dahon people, if you're reading this, people like red. Well, this person likes red.

Finally, I like this video. It just shows a guy who really likes his bike, showing off how it rides, folds and how the nifty seat-post pump works. It really captures the fun of riding a bike.

There's a break in the rain now and I don't have anywhere I really need to go but sometimes it's just fun to go. I'm off for a ride on my little red bike.

Keep 'em rolling,


Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Preview from the Taipei Cycle Show

Via the Folding Society, I found a link to this preview document from next month's Cycle Show in Taipei:


Now I never know what items that grace the booths of these shows will actually show up at your local bike shop, but here are some of the bits I found interesting in this document.

The Dahon Curl sure looks like it folds up into a tiny Brompton-like package, a feat that I'm sure required a lot of work by engineers, designers and more than a few patent attorneys.

A couple of companies are showing quick release pedals, which are very handy things to have on a folding bike.

Tsai Jung decided to incorporate a kickstand into their pedal. I'll probably stick to leaning my bikes against handy objects.

Kenda is making a full coverage tire liner that'll probably make your favorite lightweight tire perform just like your favorite heavyweight tire. But if you're like me and hate flats, you'll probably give these a try anyway!

For you bar-end shifter fans, you can thank those spandex-clad triathlon folks for keeping your favorite shifters from being historical artifacts. AD-II is targeting these shifters at those tri-folk but they'd probably be happy to sell them to folks building touring bikes as well.

Internal gear fans will want to check out HammerSchmidt's internally geared crankset. I know I'd like to check out that crankset.

There are other goodies in the PDF and I'm sure lots more stuff will be at the show. Taipei is too far for me to ride given the amount of time I can take off from work (I think there is a bit of water between here and there as well), but the guys from Velo Orange will be over there checking things out. Their blog, which always has cool stuff BTW, should have some reports from the show next month.

Keep 'em rolling,


Monday, February 16, 2009

Dear President Obama,

OK, I was a little hurt when you didn't even ask me to be Secretary of Transportation. Yeah, I'm sure you figured rightly that Christine and I wouldn't be interested in leaving Issaquah to move to the "other" Washington and maybe my plan of making every three block radius around a public school be a car-free zone is too "radical" for America to think about right now. But I still support you on the whole tire inflation issue and some of the other stuff you're trying to do. I know you've got a lot on your plate right now and even though you might be thinking "Hey, this guy could be a good Commerce Secretary!" No, I won't take that post either. Sorry.

Now I know some folks might say that running a non-profit used bike shop in Seattle doesn't qualify me to give financial advice, but I was smart enough to take over managing the shop right as the price of gas was hitting four bucks a gallon. And even when gas prices went down in September and the economy crashed when everyone suddenly realized that if you can't pay the $2,500/month mortgage payment on your 4,000 square-foot home then you really don't "own" it, folks still managed to buy bikes and parts at our shop. 2008, which was a disaster if you were counting on your half-million dollar bonus from Smith-Barney, was a pretty good year if you're comfortable living in 800 square feet and make your living refurbishing bikes and teaching folks how to fix their own stuff. Bike Works had it's best year ever.

So, that economy, yeah that's a bummer. Can we retool plants that made Humvees into plants that make XtraCycles? Or railroad cars? You know that you can move more freight or people cheaper on a steel rail than an asphalt road. Maybe we should build some more rail lines or at least maintain the ones we've got. I remember we used to make things out of steel in this country, things like rails and bike frames. It would be worthwhile to do more of that.

It seems kind of silly that in a lot of places it's perfectly normal to have an acre of golf-course grade grass and a long driveway but if you have a few chickens or a goat or raise vegetables in your yard you're viewed as some kind of unsophisticated hick. I think we should listen more to the hicks and less to guys like Bernie Madoff. Back in World War Two almost everybody had Victory Gardens. It worked then, it could work again.

I know a lot of people are writing you now, asking for this or that part of the bail-out money. You've got a tough job and I don't envy you. But America is a country full of smart people (and a few morons, of course!) but we'll do OK. From what I'm seeing out here, smart folks have not stopped spending money, but they are spending it in smarter ways.

Those silly looking light bulbs Al Gore is always talking about, yeah they do cost more at the store, but our power bill is down. And I'm still buying tools and spending time and money to learn how things work and how to fix things. A bicycle is cheaper than a health club membership and it gets you places. I know a guy who started riding his bike and lowered his blood pressure to the point where his doctor told him he could stop taking his expensive blood pressure medication. His bike more than paid for itself in savings and he used some of the money he saved to become a life-member of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington. That's good economic and good health-care policy.

I know you're going to be giving your State of the Nation speech and you'll tell us that times are tough. That's OK, we're tough, too.

I hope you're still liking your new job. My best to you and your wife and kids. Don't forget that you still owe the girls a puppy.

Kent Peterson
Issaquah WA USA

Monday, February 09, 2009

Ghost Trails

In Ghost Trails, Jill Homer does something very difficult, she tells the story of riding and pushing a bicycle through 350 miles of frozen Alaskan wilderness on the Iditarod Trail. And while the journey itself is epic, what Jill does in this book is far more impressive than simply competing in this difficult race, she never stops being human and she's never afraid to share that humanity with her readers.

As readers, we know that Jill survives this race, but she still manages to tell a page-turner of a story, painting word pictures of the country, the remote cabins that serve as checkpoints, her fellow competitors, the weather and the darkness. But most importantly, she constantly asks, answers and asks again the Talking Heads question, "well, how did I get here?"

She really captures the thoughts that filled her mind on the 350 miles of the trail by recounting tales from her past, the events that made her not a super-human competitor but a human who competes, and completes, on a course that is far less remote now that Jill has taken us along on the journey.

Her humanity shows through in both tears and a wry sense of humor. She questions herself and concludes that she probably wasted too much time training and not enough time buying peanut butter cups. She holds her frozen Camelbak as an "ice baby" and finally thaws it enough to get a single swallow of water. She doubts and...

But there was one other certainty in my mind — the certainty that I could no longer bear the uncertainty. I could no longer linger in limbo. The longer I stalled, the further I sank into dull madness. I was going to have to decide right there whether I was going to push for McGrath or get on a plane back to Anchorage with Ted and never look back. Either way, I would have to accept the consequences. There was no going back to the start, not any more. I knew there was a reason I had planned so diligently for the race, trained all winter for the race, spent all of my free time thinking about the race.

“If only I could remember what that reason was,” I thought as I mounted my bicycle and pedaled into the dark. And with that, I was finally moving down the trail.

Jill takes us all along on that trail and the other trails that lead her to Alaska and that I know will lead her to further adventures. Ghost Trails is a wonderful book, one that I rationed out like a precious supply of peanut butter cups. It is a book to be savored, a book to remind you that there always is a reason to be moving down that trail, even if you don't remember what that reason was.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Peter Meilstrup's 4-speed Retro-Direct Bicycle

Peter Meilstrup stopped by Bike Works yesterday with still more evidence that the Retro-Direct Revolution is well underway. Peter's bike features dual freewheels, a KORE chain tensioner and a front derailleur to give him a total of four unique gear ratios. It's a very sweet bike.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Iron Horse Trail

Technically where Mark Canizaro and I are riding is called "The John Wayne Trail in Iron Horse State Park." Some folks call it the John Wayne Trail in honor of the Duke but that name always seemed more fitting to me when referencing the drier parts of the trail east of the mountains, where you'll see tumbleweeds and snakes and the terrain really looks like cowboy country. Here in the Cascades, where the network of old railroad grades has been steadily converted to hiking, biking and horse trails by the ongoing efforts of folks like the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and the Mountains to Sound Greenway, my friends and I have always called the big trail up to Snoqualmie Pass the Iron Horse.

The big tunnel under the summit is always closed in the winter and while we'd just gotten word that all the tunnels along the route will be closed indefinitely, we aren't planning on riding as far as the tunnels today. Only a few blocks from my doorstep we're on the Highpoint Trail and then onto the quiet frontage road to Preston. At Preston we catch yet another rail-trail towards Fall City. Years ago the old train trestle had been knocked out in a flood and not replaced, so we have a steep drop down to the road that connects to Fall City. Just past the tiny town that is a city in name only, we climb up the eastern edge of the valley and onto yet another rail grade, the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. It's a Sunday when we thought that most people would be watching some football game that promises to be super, but rural King County still has a fair number of people who prefer their sports to be of the non-spectator type and we see folks riding bikes or horses, walking dogs, running and hiking all along the trails. It's one of those days when February when the simple fact that it's not raining and not bitterly cold puts a smile on every face we greet.

We ride past the iron ghosts of trains in Snoqualmie and follow back streets and more of the trail to North Bend. At the bakery the locals pronounce us "tough" for planning to camp out, but any day that includes a bakery stop really can't register too high on the tough meter.

We return to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail and ride it up to Rattlesnake Lake where we join the Iron Horse Trail. Since the trail is the old rail bed, the grade is gentle, only about a two percent climb. But that two percent adds up and only a few miles from the lake, significant portions of the trail are blanketed in snow.

Our plan had been to camp at the sites at either Alice Creek or Carter Creek but the snow slows our progress and we're running out of daylight. The snow is getting deeper as we head east and realizing that darkness will descend on us before we reach either campsite, we decide the smart thing to do is to turn back west and back track until we find a likely campsite.

We're looking for a combination of an accessible stream and enough flat space to pitch Mark's tent and my tarp and at 4:30 PM we find the right mix of geography. The Iron Horse parallels Interstate 90, but the trees and the stream mask the noise of the road less than a third of a mile away.

Since we each have brought enough food to feed a couple of men for a couple of days, we feast as soon as we've pitched camp. It's pretty much completely dark by 5:30 PM and after swapping stories of our various travels and solving most of the problems of the world, we each settle into puffy nylon cocoons around 6:30.

In the morning, we're up soon after the sun and after a first breakfast in camp, we pack up and roll back to the world where we keep the stuff that doesn't fit in a pannier. Next to the Raging River (yes, that's really it's name) we see a huge bald eagle that's faster than Mark's camera.

At North Bend we have a big second breakfast at Twede's before rolling back to Issaquah. With 72 miles over the course of a bit under 27 hours, our trip pushes a bit over the strict limits an S24O but we're liberal enough in our definitions to declare this journey a total success.