Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Should cyclists pay for the roads?

Okay, for the last time, cyclists DO pay for the roads we ride our bikes on.

In a nutshell: gas taxes and other fees and taxes directly related to automobiles go towards (but do not entirely cover) the costs of building and maintaining highways ans freeways. Local roads are paid for from general tax funds (property taxes, etc). So if a person has a house and/or a car they PAY FOR THE ROADS! So stop with the whining and bogus "bike taxes/registration fees" arguments already.

Read more here-- it's worth it:

Don't forget to down load the PDF of the 2004 report "Whose Roads" by economist Todd Litman.

So don't flip me the finger as you drive by because you're outraged that I'm mooching off YOUR roads. I have a car that I rarely drive. I pay registration fees and taxes for it. I also pay OTHER taxes that pay for all the local roads. But because I'm riding a bike, I'm causing less damage that you are in your car and costing taxpayers (you included) less money.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


A few weeks ago I was getting the heebie-jeebies about the looming cyclocross season. Deep down inside, a secret part of me was dreading the upcoming races.

Yeah, I know. Blasphemy, right?

I tried to ignore that. But I kept returning to those feelings and thought I'd better take a good look and see if I could figure out what was going on.

Well I guess it was just that. Heebie-jeebies. Because once Alpenrose hit, it was like falling off a cliff and discovering that you can fly. Not that I was actually flying at Alpenrose. More like slogging. But you get the idea.

Adam Myerson has a little feature over on bicycling.com that sums up the ineffable nature of cyclocross pretty well. (Disclaimer: I'm not a big fan of Mr. Myerson. He did a lot of skeevy whining on the DVD "Transition" and I followed him on Twitter for a bit and then just had to stop. Bleah.)

So anyway: Why I Race Cyclocross

Alpenrose was busy. Soooo many racers were out there it was more a ride than a race at times. Still... I love it so. Alpenrose, in 2005, was my first-ever cyclocross race.

Then there was Rainier. Muddy! Yay! That cursed hill! Yay!

So I'm glad that cyclocross season is here.

BMX, BMX everywhere...

I just noticed that my last few posts have been about BMX this or that. What's up with that?

Avid's Single Digit brake... aptly named

I love it when something just works really well.

I recently picked up a set of Avid's Single Digit 7 linear-pull brakes for my BMX bike. I got a good deal and... well I don't really need to try and rationalize it. It was bike stuff. Simple.

So I installed the SD 7's replacing the Tektro brakes that came OEM on the bike. One thing I noticed was that the arms were a few millimeters longer than the Tektros. They also felt a little lighter, but I don't have a kitchen scale and can't say for sure. But who cares. They look really nice and glossy.

I had read many favorable reviews of the Avid Single Digit brakes with many folks saying that they out-performed Shimano V-Brakes! Okay. I can dig it.

Once installed the first think I noticed was that the pull at the lever was noticeably lighter. Nice. Yeah. I know-- "It's the springs, silly!" But I had already backed off the Tektros to try and get a light pull at the lever. I'm sure that the feel was a product of the longer arms. At least in part. (Why didn't pay more attention to my math classes? Wouldn't some math and geometry be good right about now?)

A couple of quick test runs confirmed the reviews of the Single Digit 7's. They do indeed require only a single digit to lock up the wheel! Very nice.

I also installed a set of Crank Brothers Mallet 1 pedals. But something's not quite right-- The left side pedal is wobbly. It's not the spindle-- I just bought a set of replacements from CB. Is it the crank? The pedal body? But that's another post...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Oh the agony. Oh the embarrassment.

So kiddo had the cool idea to head to the BMX track to practice a little. I was actually a little surprised-- it was one of those obviously good ideas in the category of "Why didn't I think of that?"

So that's what we did.

Second lap I decide that I need to be pedaling UP the rollers. Isn't that what I was told? "Just keep powering through"? I think I remember seeing the fast guys just pedaling like crazy UP the rollers. Anyway-- now I can't remember.

I can't even remember what happened. I think I must have hit my knee on the handlebar. Then maybe my foot came unclipped from the pedal? After that all I really remember is thinking "Oh flapdoodle... I'm going to crash in the berm. I hope this won't hurt."

Then I became aware of a searing pain in my thigh, like a hot poker just being stabbed right into the soft, tender, meaty part of my leg.

It was one of those sudden surprising injuries that just takes your breath away. You don't dare stop just then because if you do you'll likely just sit down and burst out bawling the pain is so intense.

So I manage to wobble my way around the rest of the track and then I stop at the foot of the starting gate and take stock.

I have a tire burn on the OUTSIDE of my left knee. Outside? Who'd that get there? Where did my knee go? What? And my thigh? Oh wow. I look down, sure that I'll have to pull out the flaming arrow that was shot through my leg. What hit my leg? I notice that the point of the saddle is twisted to the left a few degrees.

What? So my leg got stuck under the front wheel AND the saddle? This is one of those weird anatomical impossibilities. I don't even understand how it happened but the point of my saddle stabbed the inside of my thigh. I guess I'm lucky I didn't lose my leg! But I sort of wish I did-- surely it would hurt a lot less than the pain I was experiencing right now!

So for the rest of the practice session pedaling draws a line of fire along the inside of my thigh. I take it as easy as I can.

Stupid, silly, little mistakes in technique always seem to hurt far worse than the actual physical injury. Then I started thinking about how old I am and if I'm behaving foolishly, recklessly. Last few races I've been talking with some of the "old" racers (early 30's) and they remarked about the possibilities of injuries and old bodies and it just made me feel like an ancient, has-been dilettante. Isn't BMX a kids' sport? What am I doing here? Am I going to break myself zooming around the track? Then I realize that it's just a bunch of indulgent self-pity as I approach my 40th year on Planet Earth. Every time I race BMX I'm racing against guys that are older and far far faster than me. I race the pure sweet hell of cyclocross. I'm not too old for anything. 40 more years and maybe I'll be too old to ride crazy crap. Not too old to just ride though.

Did I just have my mid-life crisis? Was that it? Is that what it's suppose to feel like?


I hope my leg will recover sufficiently so that I'll be able to race Tuesday night. The BMX racing season is fast approaching its end around here and I feel like I've just barely gotten started and I don't want to give up any more races than I have to.

Yeah... CX is coming up fast and I'm looking forward to that. First weekend in October and the Crusade series starts up. But I'm not done with summer! I didn't get enough of fun in the sun and hot days. It only stopped raining in June!

Well. Tuesday is going to be sunny. Time to race.

Monday, August 30, 2010

I have a new tribe...

...And its name is BMX.

It's funny how we got here. It started last year with my son attending the short track races at PIR. He liked racing the "kiddie" races but they left him wanting more. I could understand. As they were they certainly weren't very challenging and he despaired every time I reminded how old he needed to be to qualify as a "Junior" for OBRA races.


At the time he was riding your typical department store klunker. The things were deceptively heavy-- first time I tried to hoist it up I almost dislocated my shoulder! It would be like me trading in my 24lb MTB for a 60lb bike with 37" wheels that was made out of cast iron.


So I saw a kid in the kiddie races on a super sweet little Redline bike. Narrow 20" wheels. Alloy axle nuts. I recognized it as a BMX bike but it was unlike any BMX I had ever seen and it shattered my outdated mental model of what BMX bikes were. But right away I knew that it would be the perfect bike for my son. It was proportional in size and weight. It wouldn't be a pig.

So after looking around, checking CL, asking around and casting a pretty wide net, a friend (Hi Will!) sends me an email that links to the GT bikes site. Up pops an image of the sweetest little GT BMX bike. I instantly want one.

Long story short-- a couple of months later I'm mounting a GT Power Series Expert on top of the familymobile and heading home.

My son digs it. His other klunkerz? Instantly reassigned as "Loaners".

So we go to more races and he seems to like racing more and more. But the kiddie races just leave him cold now. But I'm starting to see more kids on the same kinds of bikes. Where are they coming from?

It remains a mystery until we attend a short track race sown in Salem. Guess what? Part of it is staged on the Salem BMX track! I bump into the track operator (Adam Treadwell, all-around nice guy) and find out that there is an actual BMX race the very next night. (Oh jeez. Driving down to Salem again??)


Well kiddo is instant game. We hit the race and it's awesome. Very much a family-oriented sport. Everyone is very friendly-- A couple of folks help us out and show us how to read the "moto sheets" ("Moto" is BMX-speak for "race").

So finally kiddo get a REAL race. There are places. He come in third and vows to work up to second next week.

So we go the next week. It looked like so much fun that I decide I should give it a go. I rent a bike and helmet and I'm set.

As I rest my front wheel against the upright starting gate I get pre-race jitters like never before. I feel like I'm on a precipice of a huge drop-off.

And then the gate drops.

I'm 8 years old again, jamming my old beater bike around and around a vacant dirt lot daring myself to see how high I can go off the dirt jump.


So now I have my own BMX bike -- A Redline Proline 24 Cruiser, in red, even! -- and both me and my son are ABA members.

The bonus is that I still fit into my old O'Neal motocross pants that I wore when I was a teenage riding dirt bikes (the kind with stinky 2-stroke engines) and so I score old-school cool points.

Ha ha! Oh, I kill me.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

BMX is awesome!

Last night me and kiddo went down to the Salem, Oregon BMX track (Capitol City BMX). It was his second race. He wants to keep racing so we got him all signed up with a yearly ABA membership. The $45 memership fee includes a monthly magazine plus his first race was free (actually his last race was free, too, under the ABA one-day trial). Every race is $5. Just five stinking bucks!! (Take that STXC.) Plus the track is open for gate practice for the hour during registration, open for practice during the intermission between races 2 and 3 (the last race or "main") and then open again after the races for another 45 mins or so (no gate). So you get a bunch of track time, plus the three (very short) races for a measley $5. What a deal! :)

Well, after watching my son have all the fun last week, I thought I'd give it a try too. I raced for free under the one-day ABA deal and only had to pay $5 to rent a bike and helmet.

Dudes-- BMX is awesome. Those little bikes on the jumps and whoop-de-doos just don't want to stay attached to the ground. It's like they've got helium in the tires and just want to take off! It's been a long time since I've had that kind of fun on a bike where I kept thinking "Let's go again!!" Sure, I love bikes and riding and cyclocross in general, but this is just pure, simple goofy fun. Pointing a little bike and a big jump and hanging on! The berms are cool too-- zooooom!

Now I just need to get a bike of my own!

The vibe is pretty cool-- very family friendly. Everybody that I interacted with was very nice and friendly and super helpful. Kinda like cyclocross, but a little less crazy and without out the beer. :)

One thing that really surprised me was the bikes themselves. Over the years I've been aware of BMX bikes as those teensy things that I see hipster teeny-boppers tooling around on. Horrible looking things with gigantic pegs on the front and rear axle nuts that had all the grace of a blunt instrument.


Actual BMX race bikes are little packages of tech sweetness that are on par with everything that I'm familiar with in my world of cyclocross and mountain bikes. This is the discovery of a whole other world for me!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

It's almost like getting a new bike... almost. Until I spotted the Niner.

Last Monday's STXC (Does that even make sense? "Short Track Cross Country"?) took a little of the shine off my recently repainted (and now rebuilt) SS MTB. Falling over in some realllly soft, rutted, dirt made my handlebar twist sideways. Twisting it back was way too easy-- something is up with the stem. So the whole rest of the race had me mentally shopping for a new 1" threadless fork, headset, and stem. Although I hate to get rid of my Tange Switchblade fork.

Then I saw a new Niner. Fully composite frame. Thing was almost so light that a breeze could carry it away. Single-speed and 18 pounds. With "heavy" wheels, according to the rep (?) hanging out around the Niner tent.

As much as I don't care for composite stuff, this bike made me WANT!

Awww, gee. I still wuv you 21 year-old SS MTB of mine. :) Twisty quill stem and all. We'll get that fixed, I swear.

Comments will now be moderated.

As if family life, work, racing, trying to keep my bikes running and keep the stem tight on my "new to me!" SS MTB, annnnnd working on the damn creaky house (new bathroom! new closet! new living room!) weren't enough, I now discover (rather late) that the comments are being spammed by creepy car salescreeps and creepy asian porn Creepy McCreepsters.

Thanks creeptards. Begone!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

It's almost like getting a new bike! Almost.

I think it's taken me three WHOLE years to get around to having the old 1989 Stumpjumper frame painted. Poweder coated, actually. But I finally did it. Hurray! Brooker Enterprises in downtown Portland took care of business.


Signal red.

Now I need to have the head tube and bottom bracket shell prepped. Need a new headset too. I think I can get a bit more use out of the current Shimano BB. It still turns smoothly enough(16 years later!!).

The headset has seen better days, I think. Hopefully the shop can set me up with something that isn't a piece of overpriced junk.

Oh. I still need to rebuild the front wheel with the "new to me" XT hub. I rebuilt the rear wheel last year because the freehub was making threatening "KA-BONG!!!!" noises and felt like it was skipping.

I also need to finish putting together my errand bike. The MTN-TEK klunker fo' sho. How are you even supposed to pronounce "MTN" anyway? "M'ten"?

Anyway-- I'm excited to get the red SS MTB put together.

As an added bonus, I cut out a weird filler in the dropouts. Oddly the bike had "sort-of" semi-horizontal dropouts. It had a filler or bridge that was part of the mold when the drop outs were cast that prevented the axle from sliding all the way back. I took a Dremel with a cut-out wheel and cut it out and then filed it smooth. Now I get the full use of the drop out. Yay.

So this is what it used to look like.

Note the sub-awesome rattle-can paint job that artfully incorporates rustiness. Yeah. When I'm done it's going to look Super-Rad.