Friday, December 28, 2007

Another Chilly & Wet Winter Ride - 106 km to be exact

Today I did the "two lakes loop" which goes through: Seattle, Renton, Issaquah, Redmond, Bothell, and then back through Seattle. And instead of taking the Burke-Gilman Trail all the way back to Capitol Hill, I break off at 180th St or so and then take 5th Ave E. south to Green Lake. That way i add something like 300 m of climbing at the end!

It wasn't raining at first, when I was cruising down Rainier Ave at about 36 km/h. But by the time I got up to the top of the big hill that is Highway 900, the rain started coming down. My layers were working out great, although my feet did get wet again, oh well.

I was holding maybe 30-32 km/h up through East Lake Sammamish Pkwy, which has some rolling hills. Since the wind was 16-20 km/h from the South, I knew I'd be able to fly down that trail. Fly I did! My average at the beginning of the trail was 27.1 km/h, and by the end it was 27.8 km/h - 80 km into the ride. I was easily holding 36-40 km/h on the trail, and didn't see but two other riders.

The rest of the ride was slower for sure, the hills of 5th Ave E. really take their toll!

Here's the elevation graph of the route:

Check out just how much ground this route covers:

Here's the terrain version of the same map:

Distance: 106 km
Rolling Time: 4 hrs 8 minutes
Off bike time: ~20 minutes
Avg Speed: 25.5 km/h
Elevation gain: ~1,000 m
Stops: 2 (one at Marymoor, one for food in Lake Forest Park)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Terrain Maps!

I've added terrain maps to veloroutes! This new map type allows you to see the elevation changes, e.g. those crazy hills we all climb on our commutes, charity rides, group rides, training, whatever - we all know hills! (Unless you live in Florida I suppose)

Anyway, here's what the Cougar Mountain Climb looks like with the Terrain Feature:

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Chilly Mercer Island Loop

The little weather icons on the net all said more snow for today, so I when I woke up & saw no precip in the air, only wet roads, it was on. Time to get some more mileage in for 2007!

Even though the Ciocc isn't a rain (much less snow) bike, I use it as one from time to time. Just slap a "race-blade" fender on it, and wrap my feet in QFC bags (under booties) and I'm good to go. (Oh yeah, and hope for zero ice, since I'm running slick 23's).

Two layers of shorts, long-sleeve jersey, meshy under-shirt, and a turqoise bandana around my neck, I was chilly at first, but after climbing the 70 feet up to 15th ave from 12th ave, I was feeling good. My knees were a bit chilly/numb at first, but eventually warmed up perfectly. Most other riders were more prepared for bad weather, looking more like scuba-divers than cyclists, but I was just hoping for a clear ride.

Ride details:

Mercer Island, with climb through Madrona at the end
Distance: 43.5 km
Time: 1 hr 30 min
Avg Speed: 27.5 km/h
Outside Temp: 38F

Luckily it stayed clear throughout this little ride! Now it's time to do things inside all day, like play my Wii.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

It Snowed Today!

The snowflakes got larger and larger, and eventually stuck! We don't get a whole lot of snow out here in Sea-town, so I don't get many chances to try out snow-riding, which is always an adventure.

The route today was just the 1-mile round trip to the store on Broadway & back. But when there's an inch or two of snow on the ground, riding your fixie to the store can be quite the challenge. I was sure to keep my speed down, and take the corners way easy. The hardest part about riding in a snow storm was dealing with it in your face! A bandana would've been nice..

My rain/snow/beater miyata did just fine, although the slush was kicking up around the front fender, I need to extend the flap a little:

No falls, and I got to bust a backwards ciricle in the snow! Gotta love Seattle's interesting weather.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Cold And Wet Lake Washington Loop!

Today I did an 82-km solo ride, the Hilly Lake Washington Loop. As you can see, it starts out pretty tame, but gets more & more hilly as the ride goes on. The group of hills towards the end of the ride is going south on 5th Ave E., right next to I-5. The big hill just before that is Juanita Drive.

Here's a Google Map of the route (the green line):

There were pretty strong winds out of the south, and with the temperature at about 37 when I started, the 'warm up' to 45 degrees F by 1 P.M. didn't really help, it was still damn cold! My extremities were really cold/numb, but the wool jersey & rain-proof jacket were plenty to keep the rest of me warm.

My feet were wet/freezing/basically numb by Renton, only 10 miles into the ride! With just light booties & wool socks on my feet for warmth, once the water soaked through, the only thing I could do to warm them up was wiggle my toes & do round pedaling. It sorta works. But dammit, I should've worn plastic QFC bags under the booties..

The rain let up at about 1 PM or so, but by that time my gloves (& liners) were soaked. For the first 65 kilometers or so my hands were warm enough to compensate. But when I stopped for snacks at a corner-store on 165th and took of the gloves, that's when my hands really started to freeze! They didn't get warmed back up until I was back on top of Capitol Hill, those last 10 km were really rough.

No wonder I didn't see but eight or so other riders the whole time! I almost bailed (e.g. took I-90 back to Seattle, cut the ride in half) when I got to I-90 in Eastgate/Bellevue, but I decided that this ride would be one to remember, and hopefully one that'll make me enjoy Spring & Summer that much more!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Thieves Use New Tactic: Just Take The Whole Bike Rack!

I ran across an interesting thread on the .83 forum today, apparently some crooks unbolted a bicycle rack in downtown Seattle, threw it in the back of a pickup, and rolled off with it all!

Full thread here.

Maybe this isn't really a new approach for thieves, but for anyone to do this in broad daylight seems a bit crazy. Fuckin' (meth) tweakers I bet.

Imagine seeing this when you go to unlock your bike!

Fuckin' tweakers..

Friday, December 7, 2007

Tiger Mountain, Squawk Mountain, and THEN Cougar Mountain

Tomorrow I hope to tackle three relatively big climbs in the Cascade foothills. Two climbs I've done before, and one new one. For now I'm calling it the Three Mountain Slog.

The route will be starting at the bottom of Tiger Mtn (Mirrormont area), then doing that clockwise climb/loop that'll take us to a max elevation of about 750 ft. Then it's off to Squawk Mountain, one I haven't tackled yet, but I figured out how to get there from a route I found on veloroutes (~1100 ft). And after that we're gonna tackle Cougar Mountain, which puts us up to a whopping ~1300 ft max elevation! I won't be surprised if we encounter some chilly friggin' weather up there..

Here's the elevation graph to give you an idea of what we'll be up against:

Just this portion of the ride will give us ~3600 feet of total elevation gain over about 23 miles. Sweet!

How are we getting out there, you ask? By riding our bikes, of course! I'm thinking of taking Lake Wa Blvd down to Renton and then jumping on Highway 900/May Valley Rd to get us to Mirrormont. When it's all said and done it should be about 50-60 miles to do this route starting from Seattle.

It's gonna be cold ride too - forecast for tomorrow is a high of 41* F, with a low of 28 degrees! Ouch.

Edit: Also check out this route in Google Earth, and turn on "elevation exaggeration" to see what it looks like in 3D! Here's Squawk Mountain in 3D, for instance (w/ Tiger in the background):

Friday, November 30, 2007

Critical Mass Report: November 2007

I made it out to Critical Mass again this month, and damn was it worth it!

Luckily they never roll out exactly at 6 PM, so once again me rolling up to Westlake Center at 6:05 or so wasn't an issue.

There were TONS of cyclists, I'm always surprised how many there are in the cold/dark/winter months. I'm gonna say 3-400, but that's a total guess. I wish someone would count the riders, I'd be interested to know.

This time there was no viaduct-action, we snaked around downtown, then I broke off when Mass headed down that trolly-street (with fucking parallel train tracks on the road - seemed like a really bad idea to me, and I'll bet at least one rider crashed due to the tracks).


  • Somebody threw a BUNCH of water on Mass down in Belltown, apparently from an apartment. But given the festive nature of Mass, it just made everyone cheer that much louder
  • Going up some of the hills downtown, at least one person bit it for some reason, and about half of Mass decided to carry their bikes up the hill
  • Going up a cobbled fucking steep hill coming up from Pike Place Market - somehow I made it up without stopping on the 14x40 miyata fixie!
Again, it was a great ride, but once again, I didn't bring a camera - so you're just gonna have to picture how awesome it was until I can find some pics to post.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Getting Ready for Randoneuring in Seattle

My riding buddy reminded me that the Seattle Intl. Randonneurs are having a "meet the team" ride this Saturday, and it looks like we'll be there! We already do unsupported long distance rides, but this is basically taking it to the next level.

What the hell is this randoneer crap, you say? Basically it's all training for an insane ride called the Paris-Brest-Paris, that just happens to be 1,200 km (745 mi) long.. Oh, and did I mention you have to complete those 1,200 km's in 90 hours?!

But before you're even allowed to ride the PBP, you have to complete a series of 'brevets' - up to 600 km I believe.

And interestingly, it's supposed to snow on Saturday - I might be showing up on the miyata fixie complete with zipties on the rear wheel for traction, we'll see.

Anyway, I'm really excited to check out the SiR crowd and see what their rides are like. I just hope they aren't too anal, e.g. saying, "that's not a rando bike," or, "you won't/can't do PBP on that bike." Hopefully they'll be laid back, positive, and open to all types of bikes, including my fixie and my ciocc race bike. (And yes, I've got full fucking fenders on the fixie, thank you very much)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Five Summits Of Seattle, Once Again Hit 50+ MPH

Dennis & I hammered out yet another edition of the "Five Summits of Seattle" yesterday, a knee-killer that goes over five of Seattle's toughest hills & streets:

  1. Queen Anne Ave heading South, up and over Queen Anne Hill
  2. Delridge climb in West Seattle (Othello St)
  3. Beacon Hill (12th Ave)
  4. Aloha Ave heading East UP Capitol Hill (that's got to be an 18% grade or something, for two blocks, followed by cobbles and more climbing once you get past 23rd ave.) to Volunteer Park
  5. Climb from Green Lake up to the Woodland Park Zoo & Phinney Ridge
He came up with the route after we talked about trying to find all the good climbs in Seattle, starting with the list of the highest elevations in Seattle. Some construction on Othello screwed up the route a bit in West Seattle, but we just ended up riding down Othello from the top, then turning around and coming back up, just to get the climbing in. Othello St is probably 10% for 1/2 mile, so there was no way we could skip it and still say we did the route.

Even though it was apparently 34 degrees when we started, it 'warmed up' to 45 degrees or so, with some sun here and there. I can't wait for warm weather!! But at least it was dry.

Ride Stats:

Total Distance: ~44 mi (including coming from/to my apt on Capitol Hill, which actually means I end up climbing Capitol Hill twice!)
Elevation Gain: 3,102 ft (plus the 300 for me to get back on The Hill)
Max Speed: 52 mph (coming down Highland Park Way SW in West Seattle)

On the big downhill in West Seattle I watched my speedometer steadily rise from 50 km/h (~30 mph) at the top of the hill to about 84 km/h (52 mph) towards the middle of it! The 53x11 helped in pushing the speed, and I could keep pedaling the whole way it seemed.

If it wasn't for a pickup that was slowing in front of me, I probably could've pushed it up to 54 mph or so! We'll have to go out there late at night sometime and see just how fast we can go...

Anyway I love that we don't even have to leave the city to hit 50+ MPH! Seattle's got to be one of the best cities to cycle, for the terrain if nothing else.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

65 km Route Around South Lake Washington And Mercer Island

I got a late start today, and since I didn't leave until 1 PM I had to limit the route since it's gets dark at 4:30 these days!!

I did what I call the "double U" route, a 40-miler that's pretty flat, and allowed me to see just how fast I could go without hills getting in the way too much.

Here's the elevation profile of the route, with the clock-wise Mercer Island Loop starting at about mile 22:

With a 10 mph wind out of the North, I was able to average 33.0 km/hr (~20.5 mph) all the way to Seward Park, where the little climb starts at about mile 7.5 or so. I was cruising at a good 36-38 km/hr (~ 24 mph) on the flats, and since my legs aren't sore anymore, I could push about as hard as I wanted without pain.

Mercer Island was really cold on the shady (Eastern) side at about 2:30 PM when I rolled through. I saw more cyclists than I expected, but I guess with the day off it makes sense.


Total Distance: 65 km
Total Rolling Time: 2 hrs 20 minutes
Average Speed: 27.3 km/hr
Max Speed: ~65 km/hr (40 mph)
Max Temp: 45 degrees
Turkey eaten: 0 lbs

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Recovery Ride Around Mercer Island And Part of Lake Washington

Today I did a combination of Mercer Island and the Lake Washington Loop, for a total of about 47 miles or so. My legs were a little sore from the fixed gear commute on Friday, but I chugged along pretty well, holding a 31.9 km/h pace around Mercer Island, although towards the end I was definitely tired.. Overall my pace was more like the usual 24-25 km/hr.

Elevation graph, with Juanita Way as the highpoint at 460 ft:

Going down Juanita Way I hit a good 60 km/h, and the automatic speed sign towards the bottom flashed at a nice 38 mph - in a 35 mph zone no less! It's fun to see my speed-o-meter read a whopping 64 km/h, but I can't wait to hit that 100 km/h at some point!

Friday, November 16, 2007

My Winter Ride - Miyata Fixed Gear

Last night I finally got my rear fender to fit on my fixie, but just barely. With maybe a few millimeters of space, it's a tight squeeze, but it worked for the 25-mile commute today.

After a few seasons of trying to use 'race blades' that cover 1/4 of the wheel, I'm trying out something hopefully dryer. Now that it's so wet outside, I figure I might as well dedicate a bike to the current season: crappy. The full rear fender with the race-blade on the front (complete with diy water-bottle extension) keeps the bike, and me, much cleaner than before.

So here it is, my Miyata 305 fixie:

The 14x40 (~77 gear inches) is kind of tough up some of the steeper hills around here, but big enough to make downhills fun. Going up the paved trail next to 520, my rear wheel was sliding on the wet leaves on the ground, but somehow I kept riding up and up. The rolling hills on the Eastside aren't so bad, and the trail is decent enough to keep you off the busy roads for most of the way.

Here's today's commute profile - just goes to show you really can't go far in Seattle without hitting sizable hills:

So bring on the rain, bring on the winds! I'm prepared, finally.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

NPR Covers a Non-Event, and Ignores Cycling..

Some guy drove across the country in under 32 hours, and NPR covers it with a nice fluffy story so he could pump his book. Let's see, a guy got into his BMW, turned a key, and then pressed the gas pedal for 30+ hours? Big fucking deal!

Why won't NPR cover an actual triumph, such as the Race Across America? (Route map here)

The RAAM is a BICYCLE race that goes from California to New Jersey. ON. A. BICYCLE. The winner of the Men's Solo division, Jure Robic, made it in 8 days and 19.5 hours. The winning 4-person team make it in a little over 5 days!

Did you hear that NPR, somebody did something worth doing, and they've been doing it for decades now! I think a lot of people think of NPR as 'progressive,' including myself, but the more I listen to it, not so much.

What are they gonna cover next, the 'sport' of NASCAR?!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Should've Cycled To Work

Instead of cycling in I took the bus, the 545 from Capitol Hill to the MS Campus. The way in wasn't too bad, except for when the driver pulled off on the Bellevue Way exit (which is NOT the correct one, it's about 3 miles too early)! I guess the driver thought he was on a different route - and this was apparently foreshadowing of how horrible the bus ride home was going to be.

And indeed the way home was one of the worst experiences of my commuting history in Seattle. I got on the West-bound 545 at about 6 PM, only to:

  • Not have a seat, it was packed as usual
  • Stand for 30 minutes, since traffic was backed up all the way to NE 40th St!

And ironically there's a bike trail right next to 520, so I could see cyclists pass ALL the traffic, since 520 was crawling at a hot 2 mph. All the way to bridge, which is at least 4 miles. Argh!

All I could think about was how nice it when you're on the bike, and the only thing that can hold you up is traffic lights, mechanical issues, or getting tired. But traffic doesn't mean shit when you're on two wheels, and after today's bus commute I might never do that again. I've ridden that damn bus for a few years now, on and off, and it won't be hard to say goodbye to it.

And since I'm on the subject of traffic, I thought this was kinda funny (click the image to see it in full):

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Lost a Mini-Race on the Commute This Morning

My 16-mile commute takes me from Capitol Hill to the Microsoft Campus out in Redmond over the I-90 trail, and through Bellevue. I usually like to ride hard & fast as much as possible, and today was no exception. I felt great starting down 12th ave, at a good 35+ km/h rate.

As I was getting on the I-90 bike trail in Seattle, there was another roadie also getting on the trail, fully decked out in Team Chipotle's argyle race kit, and I sat on his wheel during the descent to the flat bridge deck cruising at about 32 km/h.

It wasn't that I was trying to drop the guy, but I pulled around him and bumped the speed up to 36-40 km/h, but that only lasted about 30 seconds due to a tough head-wind. I always seem to make the mistake of passing someone that I'm drafting off of, and then suffering in the head-wind they were pulling me through! The bridge-deck is about 2 miles long, so it can be tough to hold top speed the whole time, but I was sure trying. My speed slowly dropped, first to 32-34 km/h, then 30-32 km/h. Did I mention the head wind??

I didn't look back to see if he was on my wheel or not, but he apparently was, because as soon as the grade started to kick up to get onto Mercer Island, he passed me and started climbing out of the saddle - it's on!

As we started the 2nd half of the climb, he really hammered, basically sprinting up the hill. I was only about 20 ft behind him, also sprinting about as hard as I could. But just as we were about to the top, I started to feel all bonky - you know, ill feeling, legs get numb, etc. Damn! And this is only 3 miles into my commute!

Not that I expected to drop the guy, like I said he looked pretty serious, but I was hoping to test him a little more than that! As he turned left onto Mercer Island Way he glanced back a few times, only to see me 100 ft away, slowly rolling, head looking down towards the handle-bars, heavily breathing.

Needless to say the other 13 miles were pretty slow indeed. It took me about 10 minutes to recover while slowly riding - it's been a while since I felt like that! Nice little taste of racing I suppose.

Note to self: don't go all-out for too long if you don't want to bonk.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Cyclist SHOT in West Seattle During Commute

From Peter's blog:

"I am nearly home. A mile from home, I hit a pot-hole and puncture my front tire. I replace the tube, but have difficulty getting the tire bead to hold to the rim. On the third try, it holds. I mount my bicycle, ride another two blocks and a car passes to my left. I hear gun-like shots and immediately feel pain in my chest. I ride a short distance and stop. I hunch over my handlebars while I “absorb” the pain. Every inhalation brings a sharp pain to my left lung, as if I had a broken rib. I look at my “clean” yellow jersey. As there are no marks, I suppose that the assailants shot me with an air gun or some sort of blunt projectile."
He was shot w/ a .22 caliber rifle filled with BBs! Ouch. You can read the full story here.

When I was a teen-ager we did stupid stuff like throwing soda on pedestrians, yelling at rednecks to get them to chase us, etc - but nothing like this! We need to find the kids that did this and get them on some bicycles! That would at least give them something to do, as they're obviously bored with life.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Is There A Seattle Style of Bike?

I just happened to be Googling 'seattle fixed gear' to see what would pop up, and lo and behold I ran into a blog entry from the Hong Kong Fixed Gear blog: "bikes seattle style"!! I had no idea Seattle was known for a certain type of bike, but come to think of it those bikes look a lot like the 'candy' bikes I see all over the Hill and Downtown..

It's a pretty cool blog though, and included a picutre of a double-sided fixed gear. I guess you learn something new every day indeed.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

600 km on the Ciocc!

I got my new dream-bike (a steel Ciocc) on October 1st, which is just about one month ago. Let's see how many kilometers I've put on this baby!

At the very end of my 80 km ride today, my cyclo-computer read a whopping 600 km (372 mi)!! Not bad for one month's worth of riding. Check my cycling log for the details.

Most of the rides were on the weekends, as my new job working for the man combined with the cold/dark weather hasn't given me the time or the motivation to go out and ride. But if I start commuting to work then it would be a 32-mile round trip!

Hopefully these miles will build a good 'base' for the 2008 STP/HPC/etc, and I'm thinking about giving the local race scene a shot. We'll see.

Hilly Lake Washington Loop - 80 km of great Seattle riding

Today I hammered out one of my favorite rides today, my version of the Hilly Lake Washington Loop - most local riders take the Burke-Gilman back to Seattle, but I like to break off at 180th/Perkins and follow that out to the rolling hills of 5th Ave E., just parallel to I-5. Here's an elevation profile of the route:

There was a tough head-wind out of the south, but I was holding 32+ km/h, which is how I like to roll. I can get a lot lower/more aero on the Ciocc as opposed to my Bianchi - that helps a lot on days like today. I can also go a hell of a lot faster on this new bike, partially because the 53,39 x 11-23 gearing I'm running is made to go fast and nothing but!

It was kind of chilly out, but it never rained so that was a pleasant surprise. Bring on the cold weather cycling!!

Total Distance: 81 km (50 mi)
Total Rolling Time: 3 hrs, 2 minutes
Average Speed: 26.1 km/h

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Solo 120 km or The Tour of Cascade Foothills

Yesterday I went out for a little ramble that went something like this route: from Capitol Hill I went East to Lake Washington Blvd, then South on that until I hit Renton. From there the plan was to head East via Highway 900 out to Issaquah and to hit up Cougar & Tiger Mountains, but as soon as I saw a group of three riders that were cruising at about the same pace I was, 34-36 km/h (21-23 mph), I just had to chase them down!

Or at least try to - even though they were heading North via Lake Wa Blvd towards Bellevue, and that wasn't the planned route. No problem, I know these roads pretty well now, so a little detour is always nice. Plus, I can easily still get out to my target-climbs from Bellevue, so why not chase down some strangers that may or may not be faster than me?

Unfortunately I never caught the 'rabbits' - alas, the stop lights in Renton gave them too much of a gap and I never saw them again. The lights or my legs weren't enough, not sure which. It was still fun though, a little sprinting-for-no-reason never hurt anyone, right?

When I made it to I-90 I hopped on the trail and headed East to Issaquah, where I hit up Cougar Mountain, the 3-mile, 1,400 foot climb that makes or breaks a cyclist in these parts. This was my first go at that climb on the new Ciocc, which has a low-gear of 39x23 (~44 gear inches), a little steeper than the Eros. I made it up, and the stiffness of the frame easily evened out the steeper gear; although I can't say it was easy. The air was definitely nippy up there, and after slipping on my arm warmers I descended down as fast as safety would allow, which wasn't very fast at all - I probably topped out at 65 km/h down Cougar.

Then it was off to Tiger Mountain, about 10 km away just South of Issaquah. At the bottom of Cougar Mtn take a right on Newport Way, follow it to Front St, then take that South to Tiger Mountain Road on the left. Tiger's not a monster-climb, but at about 800 ft it's not small either. Luckily the roads were dry enough that I could blast down the 'mountain' - although I never could get much over 72 km/h (~46 mph). Guess I'll have to go over to Tolt Hill Road to really get the speedy descent I'm looking for.

Here's a profile of my 'Tour of Cascade Foothills' route (out to and including Tiger Mtn, but excluding the trip back):

I love how Cougar/Tiger Mountains put Capitol 'Hill' to shame!

Here are the ride totals:

Distance: 120 km (~75 mi)
Total Time: 5 hrs 30 minutes (my cyclo-computer reset, not sure of rolling time, it was probably something like 5 hrs)
Elevation Gain: ~4,000 ft
Road Kill Seen: three, all on May Valley Road - they must not clean it much.
Best Scenery: Mt. Baker & Lake Sammamish as viewed from the top of Cougar Mountain - that makes the pain worth it!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Critical Mass Report - October 2007

It's been a few months since I made it out to Critical Mass, but today I decided to take some time out of my Friday night to ride my bike around slowly with hundreds of strangers!

I left my house at just about 6 pm, which is incidentally the same time Mass usually rolls out from Westlake Center downtown. But as I was coming down Pine St I could see Mass pulling out, so I knew I was in time! Sweet.

I'm not much of a costume person myself, but there were some pretty good ones - bunny suits, fake parking signs through the chest, all kinds of funky shit.

The route went something like this: West on Pine St, then Left (south) on 1st Ave - once we got down by Safeco Field we turned around, and THEN GOT ON AURORA! I'm always game for riding on one of the most forbidden roads in the city - the Viaduct. We went up an exit ramp, and all of a sudden Northbound 99 was CLOGGED with bicycles. We rode it through the tunnel under Belltown, and all the way up over the Aurora Bridge. The sun had just set so the Olympic Mountains were rad looking, and all you could see in front of you was bicycles and blinking lights.

I was surprised we stayed on 99 so long, as I thought CM was supposed to turn more often, so as not to clog the city too much - but F that, we went all the way!

After 99 we got off in Fremont and headed up Stone Way to Wallingford, where we took a right on 45th and headed East - I broke off on Roosevelt and went back to Capitol Hill. The total ride was 20 km, and the average was really slow, as CM usually rides at a pace of about 10 km/h, or 6 mph.

If you haven't checked out Critical Mass in Seattle, I suggest giving it a try!


Here are some good pictures from the Aurora part of the ride on the .83 forum.

And here are some photos from that forum:

and here's the pirate ship - how could i forget that?!

more of the beatiful view from aurora:

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Get a Back-light, Bub!

That's what some fucking teenager (on a squeaky mountain bike no less) said as I passed him going down Harvard Ave towards Eastlake. Sure, I passed him going down 10th, but with my shiny new 53x11 whaddya expect? I think he was just mad I passed him, it was less about the lighting. Wasn't my reflective vest and bright front light enough?

Sorry, I wasn't a christmas tree w/ a million lights - as far as I know, by law Seattle only requires a front light, but it seems that uptight Seattleites also require a rear one. So sue me.

This is going out on a limb, but: Is a rear light going to save me from distracted drivers? If I'm gonna get hit I'm gonna get hit. People get hit while using rear lights all the time, so I don't put a lot of trust into them. A front light has much more use, it lets drivers at intersections know I'm coming, and you can see it from the side.

If there's one thing in the world I hate, it's being told what to do by a stranger. I'm a nice person and all, but I don't think it's anyone's business whether or not I'm wearing a rear light! Uptight Seattleites can kiss my ass. (So if you see me spinning around town on my Ciocc without a blinky rear light, or I'm not wearing a helmet, or something else crazy, keep it to yourself!!)

(end of rant)

Anyway, I was heading over to the Ballard Locks to meet up with Dennis, Rachael, and John. We did a little tour of north-side hills, including Carkeek Park and Golden Gardens. I hadn't been to Carkeek yet, and at night it was hard to see a lot, but the descent/climb was decent. And there were these weird warm/cold spots in that area - my theory was that it was the sewer-grates on the road that sometimes spew hot steam into the air, but who knows.

Here's a graph of the ride's elevation changes - nothing big, but enough to get your heart going:

And here's a link to the ride.

Stay safe out there, no matter how you do it!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Odd Bikes on eBay and elsewhere - beware!

A few years ago I came oh-so-close to buying a 'Mercier' road bike from eBay that seemed just too good to be true. In fact, I think those bikes are too good to be true.

(It was much like this Motobecane)

It had Shimano 105's, decent wheels, and the frame looked OK, all for $1,000 I think it was... And the description for the bike I almost got stated the Mercier was an old European bicycle maker, and that Lance Armstrong once rode once of them in his early years. But after a little Googling, it was obvious that:

a) Mercier was no longer European, it was registered to a Florida resident
b) This eBay seller was also selling Dawes bikes, and whaddya know? Both sites are registered to the SAME town in Florida!

Want proof?

Domain info for

Domain Name..........
Creation Date........ 2001-09-01
Registration Date.... 2001-09-01
Expiry Date.......... 2008-09-01
Organisation Name.... J. Mukhalis
Organisation Address. 176 Summerfield
Organisation Address.
Organisation Address. Ponte Vedra
Organisation Address. 32082
Organisation Address. FL
Organisation Address. UNITED STATES

Domain info for

Domain Name..........
Creation Date........ 2004-04-30
Registration Date.... 2004-04-30
Expiry Date.......... 2014-04-30
Organisation Name.... spratt cycle support, inc
Organisation Address. 3203 old barn court
Organisation Address.
Organisation Address. ponte vedra beach

Organisation Address. 32082
Organisation Address. FL
Organisation Address. UNITED STATES

That's odd, these two 'classic' road bike brands have their site's owners listed in the same town in Florida?! Funny.

On posts from this seller, you'll see descriptions like this:

Motobecane is one of the top names in the bike business - 80 years old, winner of the Tour d' France, winner of several world championships, inventor of the moped and of dual suspension bicycles.

But DrPete pretty much summed it up on

Motobecane, Dawes, Bottecchia, and Mercier are brand names that WERE once major european bike manufacturers. Bottecchia still is--in Italy. Moto USA, Dawes USA, Bott. USA, and Mercier USA are, in reality, brand names that were bought by Cycle Spectrum USA, AKA They purchase frames in bulk from Taiwan, usually models that were designed for/by other major manufacturers (KHS, Fuji, etc.) and sell them with components and all. The frames are actually decent quality in the vast majority of cases, so it's not like they're shoddy. In fact, if you're on a budget and willing to do a little self-assembly and/or pay for a shop to do assembly and tune-up work, then it's a decent way to buy an enthusiast-level bike on a budget. Just don't be fooled into thinking that you're getting a "real" Dawes/Mercier/Moto/etc.

I think you can add Windsor to that list as well. I'm not saying no-one should buy and ride these bikes, hell, I'm happy if people are just riding! But beware of what you're buying, and don't believe an eBay seller just because they have 99.9% feedback.

Moral of the story: support your local bike shop!!

Climbing Queen Anne Ave at Night for Fun

After work I went on a seven-mile ramble with the goal of topping Queen Anne on the Ciocc. Even though it was getting dark I put on my Nike cycling cap (bought it in London!) that looks like a hunting cap:

Sometimes the cap gets a little hot, but it's nice to have something over the ears for sure.

The route went through downtown, and out to Kerry Park on the top of Queen Anne. The ride was great, and the Ciocc is responsive and fast as ever. I was wondering how the 39x23 low-gear would feel going up it, but it wasn't bad at all! Can't say it was a whole lot easier than on the Eros, but that bike definitely feels more solid on tough climbs like that.

God damn some parts of Queen Anne Ave are steep! Kerry Park has post-card-quality views of downtown, it's worth the pain to get there. And that was only the 3rd time I'd gone up it without stopping! A year ago I had to take breaks going up it.. progress!

Ride details:

min: 62.6 ft max: 375.3 ft last: 368.5 ft total dist: 7.4 mi

total elevation gain: 815.2 ft

(btw the graph is skewed b/c I clicked more points in the beginning of the route than towards the end)

I should start doing hill-repeats using that climb - it's one of the toughest near my house. And if you can't tell by reading this blog, I love to climb! (And I like to descend as fast as possible too)

Bring on the darkness, the wind, the bitter cold - but rain I can do without. Let's hope for more dry nights like this one!