Paul Andrews

Archive for February, 2010|Monthly archive page

How to Do a Swap Meet

In Bicycling on February 25, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Seattle’s annual Bike Swap blowout will take place at Magnuson Park’s Hangar 30 on Saturday, the day before Sunday’s annual Chilly Hilly ride on Bainbridge Island. Over the years the Swap Meet has evolved into quite the bike scene, and this year promises to be no different.

Here are some guidelines gleaned from years of experience going to bike swaps. We hope they can be of use at the big meet.

1. Before you head to the swap meet, make a precise list of what you actually need (it’s also a good idea to write down the lowest price you can find on, say, the Web; you really need to know price points to know if you’re getting a good deal). You’ll see so much at the meet that it’s easy to forget what you really came for. I typically have half a dozen target items on my list, e.g., new cable housing, backup pedals, some winter tights, a cluster set, saddle, and so on. Note that although it’s a swap meet, you’ll find a lot of new stuff on the floor, especially clothing. Much of it will be at prices you’ve never seen before. Oh and don’t forget the crucial shopping bag! Or do as I do and wear a big ol’ backpack.

2. Bring lots of cash. I don’t go with less than $500. Please don’t tell my wife, who thankfully never reads this blog. Although some of the vendors (stores) will take charge cards, cash is good for two things: Speed, and negotiating. “Oh, sorry, I’ve only got INSERT FIGURE HERE on me.” There will be no cash machine on premises. Some vendors may take checks (although they’re crazy to), but it’s not worth the gamble.

3. Arrive early. If you usually arrive early to things, arrive even earlier. My friend Jim Lyon and I typically show up 45 minutes before the door opens at 9 a.m. And we’re by no means close to the door. Typically a few hundred folks line up by opening bell, and the further ahead you can be, the better opportunity you have for scoring the best deals. Note: If you do run late, you’re probably better off showing up at 9:15 or 9:20 than, say, a quarter to 9. By a quarter after, assuming an on-time start (not always the case), the line has usually dissipated and you can blow right in. (Note: There’s bike parking, but bring your own lock. It’s unattended.)

4. I like to start off by cruising the entire floor in one sweep. The reason: The good stuff goes fast. Two things to keep in mind while cruising: Snap up a good deal that fits your needs. It won’t be there the next time you pass the booth. I once walked in and the first booth I encountered had brand new Nevegals on sale for $15. No need to negotiate, I snapped ‘em right up. Point No. 2: Make a mental note, or even write down, stuff you might want but is a bit overpriced, or that you doubt will go quickly. You might even make a passing inquiry, “How much are you asking for this?” Just so they see your face and know you’re interested. That means they won’t willy nilly lower the price to the next guy, figuring you’ll come back again. You can even mention a price point you’re willing to pay and have the vendor hold it for you on that basis. Most vendors won’t go for it, but again, it shows your interest.

5. OK, once your first pass is done, start the whole thing over, but this time with an eye on bargaining. Big Point: Never pay the marked price! Now there are exceptions, like that $15 set of Nevis. But typically even at swap meets vendors ask high. They expect to dicker. Here’s where knowing price points comes in handy. Once when I wanted a new cluster, I noted to the vendor that his price was higher than Performance’s, and I’d much rather buy from him. Deal made.

6. If you find something you really like but can’t get the price where you want it, just hang in there. Within a couple of hours, earlier even, the vendor will start to waver. A couple years back I found a primo full face helmet, brand new, going for $90. An hour and a half later I got it for $60. There’s a bit of risk in waiting, of course. You have to calculate your odds that others will find the item overpriced (or demand for it is limited enough to begin with that it won’t attract a lot of buyers).

7. Caveats: Look used stuff over pretty carefully. Last year some guy was selling used chains. Unless you have a chain tool with you or otherwise have an expert eye, chains would be the last thing you’d buy at a swap meet. Vendors also can confuse you by “mispackaging” items. One year I was set to buy a new Conti still in the box, when I happened to see the label underneath. The actual tire inside was different, an off-model I didn’t want. Check DVD boxes to make sure the right disc is inside. On tires, make sure you’re getting a 26-incher not a 29er (assuming you want the 6er). On clothing, check for snags, stains, dropped stitching, defects. Stuff like that…it’s easy to buy the wrong item, and then you’re stuck. No taking it back for exchange!

Good luck! Just don’t buy anything I want before me, OK?

Right Rider for the Job: Tribute to Jon Kennedy

In Bicycle advocacy on February 25, 2010 at 10:41 am

Jon Kennedy getting it done on the trail as well as off

When he became acting executive director of Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance last fall, Jon Kennedy inherited an organization that had lost its balance and was heading for a tumble. As it turned out, Kennedy was the right guy for the job. Anyone who has watched Jon guide a bike on a skinny or over a drop can see he knows how to regain balance and ride a tricky section out. That’s what he did for Evergreen.

Last week Evergreen announced that Kennedy is leaving. On Mar. 1 he will take over as marketing manager for the resurgent Diamondback Bicycles conglomerate (with Raleigh) based in Kent. Ironically the commute from his West Seattle home will be about the same as it was to Evergreen HQ at north Green Lake in Seattle. Which is fortunate, because Jon expects to maintain close ties to the club he helped guide back from the brink.

“I love Evergreen, I love the organization, the people and the agenda,” Jon said by phone after the announcement. Any rumor mill suggestions that he is leaving out of disenchantment would be “absolutely wrong,” he added.

Jon was recruited by Diamondback after working with its brand manager, Mike Brown, on Evergreen sponsorships that resulted in a bike giveaway and $2,500 commitment to the club. The compensation package offered by Diamondback, which is seeking to re-establish itself as a leading name in mountain biking, was too good to pass up.

At 35, “I have my family to think about,” said Jon — wife Ilana, son Erez, 3, and daughter Lilah, 18 months. Anyone who has worked for a non-profit understands that it’s typically not a career but a stepping stone. Despite Jon’s short tenure, it probably seemed more like an entire staircase — but it’s to his credit that so much got done to carry Evergreen forward.

It was Jon’s work with Evergreen that impressed Diamondback. “His energy and dedication, combined with his organizational skills, will be a big plus for us,” Brown said.

A cornerstone of Diamondback’s marketing agenda is working with local, active leadership groups like Evergreen to build and maintain trails. “It’s called ‘Places to Ride’,” Brown noted — a seemingly obvious mission for bike-related companies everywhere, but one which often isn’t acted upon.

Kudos to Diamondback for recognizing a golden opportunity. “We’re in a very competitive space. so getting our message to riders can be a real challenge.” Brown acknowledged, referencing Diamondback’s long-travel Mission, XC Sortie and expanding dirt jump lines. (For drool factor, check out the limited edition Scapegoat.) Key liaisons like Jon and Evergreen and the base they bring along do word-of-mouth wonders.

With Jon at the helm, Evergreen helped get marquee projects on track, from Duthie Hill to South Fork Snoqualmie to Black Diamond. Colonnade got much-deserved attention. New sponsorships rolled in, including Gregg’s, Home Depot and Black Diamond. And Evergreen’s name was prominent in events like the Feb. 5 premiere of “Women of Dirt,” a cinematic look at mountain biking femmes.

A number of the goals outlined at the Duthie Hill gathering last fall are being addressed, including balancing the club’s twin missions of advocacy and recreation. Although the 2010 season is still a couple of months away, the ride calendar seems on the way back to health. And the mtb scene is popping locally — with Evergreen’s involvement every step of the way.

To be sure, challenges loom. First will be finding a replacement for Jon — he says not to worry, several well-qualified folks are in the hopper. Then there’s at least one goal mentioned at the gathering that hasn’t seen much traction — to wit, spreading Evergreen responsibilities across more than one set of shoulders.

Evergreen’s board needs to move a bit faster to address the org’s needs. Despite his yeoman service, Jon never officially had “acting” dropped from his title. It’s on the board to get his replacement named summarily (Glenn Glover has been appointed interim) and take action on other leadership issues.

In a non-profit, Jon joked, “there’s only one way to find out how much you’re appreciated — and that’s to quit.” He’s been “blown away” by the surge of well-wishes and expressions of gratitude. He may be moving on, but not away.

“Diamondback is tremendously committed to local advocacy, so I expect to stay involved with Evergreen,” Jon says, adding that Evergreen is like the Hotel California. You can check out any time you want, but you never get to leave.

Evergreen’s announcement.

Jon’s departing letter to Evergreen.

News Cycle: EMBA’s new ED, Pivot’s new TM, If John Cook only had a brain & more

In News Cycle on February 24, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance has named Glenn Glover interim executive director, following the departure (as of Mar. 1) of Jon Kennedy for Diamondback Bikes. We’ve sat in on board meetings with Glenn and done trail work with him and feel he’s a great fit. Congratulations to him and best wishes moving the organization forward.

Pivot Cycles has signed the reigning 24-hour-race world champion, Jason English, to its team for 2010. English, an Aussie, rides a Mach 4 that tilts the scales at under 22 lbs. We want that build!

“I don’t believe a bicycle is a transportation device,” stated Fairfax (VA) County Supervisor John Cook. Which might carry some weight except that John Cook’s brain is not a cognition device. (See comments queue.)

Great (reprinted) interview with someone whose brain is firing on all cylinders, mountain biking founding father Charlie Kelly.

And Ned Overend is profiled in the Durango Herald. A seldom noted fact about Nedly: His name is the most perfect mountain biking anagram ever! (That’s right…end over end.)

Seattle can provide a bike model for Portland

In Bicycle advocacy on February 24, 2010 at 12:41 pm

The controversy over a mile-long rogue mountain biking trail in Portland’s Forest Park represents a great opportunity for bike advocates to make a point: For all its reputation as a cycling mecca, Portland falls short in the fat tire arena.

Forest Park is admittedly a terrible place to build a bootleg trail. It’s widely used, it’s urban, it’s sensitive ecologically.

But the crudely constructed trail shows the desperation grommets feel who want rad places to ride. At a certain point it can only be expected that they’ll take matters into their own hands.

Instead of a lot of sturm und drang, name-calling and righteous indignation, the situation would be better served with understanding, dialogue and a plan.

That’s what’s happened in Portland’s sister city to the north. Under the leadership of Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, urban mountain biking parks around Seattle are popping up all over, even under the I-5 freeway. As a result, rogue trail building — although it’s still happening — is far less pronounced and invasive.

One case in point: Lower Woodland Park. Time was when new trails were being sliced in everywhere, especially the steeps, where erosion quickly became a problem. Then the Parks Department put in a jump park down below, and a skate bowl (shared with bmxers). The bike trails that made sense and were well-built stayed. Others were blocked off with snow fencing.

Result: A city-wide magnet that keeps stunt riders occupied and happy, with no need to go rogue. Lower Woodland is even featured on YouTube videos and in the new film, “Women of Dirt,” where international mountain bike star and Seattle native Jill Kintner mixes it up.

Seattle’s example helped jump-start an urban ride park movement throughout the region. Almost overnight, Duthie Hill north of Issaquah has become a miniature Whistler mountain bike park. Not to be outdone, the trail hobbits around Black Diamond are doing amazing stuff on Summit Ridge and other areas near Lake Sawyer. A magnificent new cross-country trail has gone in on Grand Ridge, the result of savvy political spadework done by Backcountry Bicycle Trails Club (before it was renamed to Evergreen) when King County approved the Grand Ridge area for development more than a decade ago.

Other urban areas are following the same advise-and-consent path toward dealing with bootleg trailbuilding. Aptos and Santa Cruz, California, have become international icons for mountain biking’s elite with their expanding network of jump parks, freeride trails and even a new planned pump track. To the east of Portland, Bend OR has a thriving mtb scene. San Francisco is looking to build a new network at McLaren Park. There’s still mostly gray stuff (our preferred term for trails that fall in between authorized and unauthorized) in Marin County, but an incipient mtb culture fostered through high school leagues promises to change that in the future.

In British Columbia, there’s virtually no such thing as “unauthorized” or “rogue” trails. Whatever gets built gets used. If it’s in the way or gets taken out, another one pops up soon enough. B.C. admittedly has a lot more space, and tolerance, than the states.

Ultimately, a showcase cycling city like Portland faces the choice of fighting the urban freeride movement through finger-pointing, negative publicity and legislation, or supporting it with a forward-looking, collaborative vision for the future. The Forest Park flap is off on the wrong foot. But hopefully sensible heads will prevail, and this scandal will be used as a podium for invoking positive change.

Why Fewer Women Riders? Wait a sec…

In Mountain Biking on February 23, 2010 at 9:24 pm

Angela taming a log roll in St. Ed's

Why are fewer women cycling? asks BikeRumor. Well, er… are there actually fewer women riding? Most data in urban areas suggests the opposite. And on the trails, there’s a real explosion in women mtbers (granted the base was small). On Twitter and Facebook, more women riders all the time. Still, it’s worth a read…

Case in (counter)point: Angela Sucich takes the Diamondback Lux Sport out for a thrash.

Gregg’s Cycles in Seattle has reprised W.O.W. — Women on Wheels, a Ladies Night Out. Mark it down: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 4, at the Green Lake store.

And at 86, still pedaling.

Then again, Martin Krieg, the “FarthingPenny” guy, checks in with this report:

“Who should roll up but Ellen Fletcher, America’s first politician/bike activist. And the woman for whom America’s first bike boulevard here in Palo Alto was named. Ellen asked me how our ride to Boston was coming along, and among other things, told me she had seen our bus parked on the other bike boulevard, Park Blvd, at Park Automotive Services. And as she pedaled off, I felt the need to corroborate her age for Chris and Caroline, the passer by who took the below photo. Ellen had to stop to get enough wind to answer me. She was still on the mend from having had a cancerous part of her lung removed.

“Eighty two”, she answered. She got back on her bike and pedaled away!!”

Alice Telford rides like ... a girl!

A less encouraging case in point: Woman rider clotheslined in steep gully.

Don’t forget the always cyclesque Kate Hudson!

And then there’s “Women of Dirt,” which is getting premieres all up and down the West Coast. The Cali premiere is this Sunday in Santa Cruz, rain or shine.

Which brings us to the subject of the bizarre dreariness and slop of this winter. In Vancouver they’re sweating in sunshine but the SF Bay Area can’t buy a ray. The big question-mark this weekend is the Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival. “Women of Dirt” will show, but the rides and events planned around the festival aren’t being helped by the wet. Mark Davidson & the gang at Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz have put together an incredible weekend, with more than $15,000 worth of merchandise to raffle off. At last tweet everything is still on, Soquel Demo ride and Jump Jam included! Got my ticket from Another Bike Shop in Santa Cruz and am ready to rumble!

This Day in Doping: Test for Human Growth Hormone hGH

In This Day In Doping on February 23, 2010 at 8:58 pm

BikeRadar has an intriguing post on a positive test for human growth hormone. The test involved a rugby league player but obviously holds huge implications for professional cycling. Although the substance has been banned for two decades, there’s been no reliable test for it.

Now (presumably) all those back samples can be screened over again. But once again, it puts enforcement into a touchy political arena. If all the big stars test positive, will the UCI or applicable governing body really act? Since there’s no transparency in the lab screening process, we the public have to trust that all samples are being tested equally, and penalties meted out fairly. That’s a pretty big leap in this day and age where corporate sponsorships and Big Money ultimately call the shots.

Why Bike Bloggers Matter

In This Day In Doping on February 23, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Investigative bike blogging is a tough job, even when you change out of your pajamas — but somebody’s gotta do it. When the San Diego Union-Tribune ran a brief item stating that an 18-year-old had been arrested for attempting to smuggle 2.5 pounds of marijuana into the country in his bike tire tubes, we were on the case.

Tubes?

That sounded like an awful lot of work. Why not just go with tubeless tires, we wondered?

The Department of Homeland Security, undoubtedly one of Bike Intelligencer’s most rabid followers, has released a photo indicating that, indeed, the mj was not stuffed into inner tubes. Although it’s tricky to determine from the photo, (which may be deliberately fuzzy for security reasons so as not to give bike terrorists any bright ideas), it looks like the weed was in plastic packets that were taped together, then simply inserted inside the tires. If tubes were used at all it was as a housing of sorts, rather than the mj sitting loose inside the tubes.

It’s impossible to determine whether the tires are indeed UST certified tubeless. We’re guessing not. We’re also guessing the culprit did not use Stan’s. I mean, what if it leaked onto the pot?

We would hope with all the stimulus dollars floating around that some funding could be supplied to purchase a better camera for Homeland Security. Either that or a photographer who knows how to focus. Or to hold the camera steady in low light. Or use a tripod.

Still, there is one indication that our investigative journalism had an effect. The followup LA Times report states that the marijuana was “hidden in tires” — not, in actual fact, in tire tubes.

Technically the U-T should run a clarification of the initial item. Although it probably was not the newspaper’s fault. The police write-up undoubtedly got it wrong. There are, inevitably, unanswered questions still. We would pursue the matter further but feel justice has been done, and there is always a ton more to do on an investigative bike blogger’s docket.

Now it’s back to work defending truth, justice and bloggers’ reputations everywhere.

The Lonesome Death of SB5838

In Bicycle advocacy on February 22, 2010 at 11:01 am

You have to wonder what it takes to get anything done legislatively any more, anywhere…in Congress, at the state level, in the city.

The widely supported, much publicized “Vulnerable Users” bill has died a lonesome death in the Washington State senate, despite the efforts of Cascade Bicycle Club. Bright side: The bill made it out of committee — something that could not be said for its antecedent last year. Dark side: It was a more general, more “politic” form of legislation that emphasized rehabilitation and education rather than punishment — and still couldn’t make it to a vote. Far side: The bizarre, unfair situation will still exist that cyclists can be killed with only a “failure to yield” ticket being issued — if a ticket is issued at all. As David Hiller, Cascade’s advocacy director, put it, people are always startled to discover that “the penalty for not stopping for a pedestrian in a crosswalk is the same penalty as not stopping for a pedestrian and killing them.”

This Day in Doping: About those tires…

In This Day In Doping on February 22, 2010 at 10:52 am

Kid gets busted for trying to smuggle pot into the country in his bike tire tubes. Getting 2.5 lbs. of mj into bike tubes sounds like a lot of work, and our first question would be why not go tubeless?

BikePure.org on closing the file on Jan Ullrich.

News Cycle: Seattle’s Biking Mayor, Lou Mazzante, Ultegra chain failure & more

In News Cycle on February 22, 2010 at 9:18 am

Great video from Streetfilms of Seattle’s new Mayor Mike McGinn riding around town. It was a long ride politically for McGinn to get elected, and serving in office is always filled with potholes and doorstops. We could continue with the bike analogies ad nauseum, but let’s leave it at this: In all the times we encountered McGinn riding in the past, he never was coasting! (Obviously we missed his “electric bike” phase!)

Congrats to Lou Mazzante, named editor of Mountain Bike magazine. We liked his work for BIKE, the best-written bike magazine around, and trust he’ll bring similar sensibilities to Mountain Bike. We hope this signals, in fact, a greater commitment to Mountain Bike, which has been a kind of weak sister to the somniferous Bicycling since it “absorbed” Mountain Bike a few years back. I didn’t realize Mountain Bike is 25 years old, though. That makes me feel old. Wait a minute, I am old…

Older I bet than this guy. He looks pretty buff too!

SeattleLikesBikes does not like the Burke-Gilman Trail’s “Missing Link.” Take a ride on the pitted side…

Cozy Beehive on the Shimano Ultegra chain failures. See comments queue too. This one needs to be networked: The visual evidence on Cozy is compelling but one would think that, if the problem is widespread, we’d be hearing from a lot of cyclists out there. The Bee says to stay tuned

Outside Magazine: Ban on mountain bikes in wilderness areas is plain wrong.

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