Commuting lameness this year? Oh yeah, I’ve got all kinds of excuses. There’s yoga class night. Kickboxing class night. The I-just-want-to-stay-home-and-make-cheese-melt-sammiches night. Don’t forget the whole Burke Gilman closure. On top of that, I work in a new building, just near the Pike Place Market, and while getting there in the morning is fine as most of the road directions are water-ward, getting out, in the late afternoon, with flocks of tourists, the Duck amphibious cruiser, hundreds of nearly inert buses and most streets that are the wrong way, adds up to poopie.
Insulting the injury, my building recently shut down the men’s shower room — mind you, two showers for 42 floors of people is crazy small to begin with — and provided an alternate single shower facility in the sub basement. Nothing’s more awkward than standing around waiting for your boss, your boss’s boss, or your future and potential boss, to finish his shower. Yes that pronoun is deliberate, check the context. I will say, at least they’re working on creating a new shower that’s got 6 stalls… so just need to be patient for a few months.
Howsomever, last week when I commuted (have been averaging only once per week, yikes) I did so solo and as such, thought I would ride the whole way. The thing is, with the Burke closure, the SurlyLady and I have been driving about midway, parking a couple of miles from the Burke. So rather than drive, last Thursday I took off from the house, pushing up the street toward the alternate-to-the-alternate BG route: rather than tracing down to Lake Forest Park, I would aim for the Shoreline spine and then angle on down to meet the Burke not too far from Matthews Beach. Lots of urban commuting car roads, and lots of hills. Horrible seeming hills. However, here’s the gift-horse moment: I kind of like this new route. It’s like a long series of rollers, some more steep than others. Whereas our usual route resembles a clawfoot bathtub, steep at the start and finish and fairly level in the middle, this new route has some awesome hills and zigzags. I got to racing with some racer chaps (how irate they seem when a guy in a cotton shirt and a big pannier cruises past!) and had a fun time huffing along. Then I left the ‘official’ BG rerouting and found myself alone, again on the Shoreline spine, threading through those neighborhoods and wending over toward Mountlake Terrace. I like that route. It’s not a ton longer than the standard way, and is way better for interval-like training.
Last Saturday I went riding with my Poppa, my brother, his wife and my nephew aka his son. It was quite a procession through the woods. I love that place. Very mellow single track, with a variegated landscape. My brother broke a chain link at one point and, ta da, I had a tool! We fixed it but then the fix started messing up. I fixed it a couple of times, but then eventually it broke beyond all repair. At this point I suggested, rather than taking out yet another link, that he just take off the chain and coast/Fred Flinstone back to the car (we were already on our way back). And I have to admit, I was jealous watching him cruise along. He was going faster than us. What does that say about the typical mountain bike rider, or at least me and the rest of the crew, when a guy without a chain can skooch along faster than you? When we arrived at the parking lot he started to talk about how that was one of the most fun things he’d ever done on a bike, how he’d really had to use his upper body etc. Sort of like being on a BMX bike on a pump track, I imagine. Yes, this is giving me some ideas: custom chainless softtail 650b mountain bike, here I come!
Here are some reviews I have been meaning to catch up on:
Carradice Junior bag — Speaking of Goldilocks engineering, this bag is just right. Just as much capacity in the main compartment as my other Pendle, but without the side pockets, which must add at least a hundred grams of weight. 100 grams! Can you imagine the injustice of that? The Junior gets a thumbs up for sure. Everything you need for a cyclotourist out on the country town, and nothing you don’t need.
Tektro Oryx brakes and stock black pads — That ride we took up in Skagit county, when it rained most of the day? Well the oddest thing happened. The SurlyLady’s pretty new bike got all kinds of weird black dye stains on the Pasela tourguard gumwalls and Salsa polished rims, all from the stock black pads. At one point I saw the black streaks, like the kitchen table at Easter when your nephew is decorating eggs, and couldn’t figure out what the heck was causing it. We stopped and I traced the streaks/stains to the brake pads. Lame, and definitely disconcerting. So the other day I took off the brakeset, put on the IRD Cafam’s from her Cross Check along with the Kool Stop pads (no need to replace them, which surprised me, just sandpapered them a bit). I took her Casseroll up the street and back and those brakes are sweet! I’ve gotten sooo much better at dialing in cantilever brakes. My first attempts at such on the Long Haul Trucker were… well they never amounted to much more than attempts.