Paul Andrews

Archive for March, 2009|Monthly archive page

Daily Roundup: Deer Matt, University of Bikes, Bill to Aid Bike Parks, Why Mayor Bloomberg Is Wrong

In Bicycling, Daily Roundup, Mountain Biking on March 23, 2009 at 10:33 am
Smaller than a mayor's briefcase

Smaller than a mayor's briefcase

AP: “Today” show co-host Matt Lauer suffered a “displaced” (separated? dislocated? hire an editor?) shoulder when he took a header to avoid hitting a deer that jumped into his path. Sounds reasonable. You don’t want to hit a deer under any circumstances, because the deer always wins. Where in New York was he riding? The Bronx Zoo?

Seattle Times: “Good piece from Ashland Daily Tidings on Ashland’s United Bicycle Institute (UBI). This is a great school. I think about enrolling every time I drive through Ashland, and ride there, which is more than occasionally. Ashland (Alice in Wonderland, Cat’s Cradle, Horn Gap to name a few) is a relatively undiscovered jewel of mountain biking. If you lived there, you could ride miles and miles of trails right from your back doorstep. A mountain biker cannot ask for more in this life.

Stevens Pass Update (kind of): We’ve been waiting for years, nay aeons, for a mountain bike park close to Seattle a la Whistler (which is 4 hours on a very good day, usually 5). Snoqualmie tried but didn’t have the trail mix or interest (altho it is now poached, albeit carefully because they’ll ticket ya!). So Stevens is it, but our sclerotic bureaucratic way of doing things in the States just seems to take for-ev-er. Two years ago it was supposed to happen last year. Last year it was this year. Now, who knows? Forest Service studies can take effin’ for-ev-er…

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg: He’s against bikes on subways but fortunately does not have regulatory authority to ban them. In the meantime, he needs to get up to speed on folding and collapsible bikes. Like mine, the Mobiky, which people already take on subways:

Today’s Ride: Round Lake Sawyer

In Mountain Biking, Today's Ride on March 21, 2009 at 8:26 pm

A spot of sun, so I have to get outta Dodge for some trail ridin’!!

Tiger Mountain reportedly is snowed in, so I headed for Lake Sawyer/Black Diamond and some more exploring. Sawyer is such a playground. You can spend hours riding in circles, not having a clue where in Sam Hill you are, and then suddenly pop out, back right where you started. And you never even detoured off the trail!

Is this what you call a circle jerk?

Is this what you call a circle jerk?

Another advantage of Sawyer is that it stays pretty dry even in the boggy weather we’ve been having lately. I ran into some puddles here and there but generally the bike stayed pretty clean. When you have a white bike, you can kinda tell right away.

I rode some bridges and a couple of structures, but they’re looking mighty poorly. The teeter is broke. Someone snapped it right at the axle, so now you can roll down it, but that probably won’t last long. The break looked like a natural give; not sure how it might’ve happened. Some Clydesdale must’ve dropped it pretty hard. Or maybe a couple of riders at once.

From teeter to roll-down

From teeter to roll-down

Other structures are just falling apart. Hopefully by late spring the groms will be out fixing things up. I should say Sawyer’s collection, at least what I know of it, ain’t great. There’s limited run-up, not a lot of room for transition, and some plain goofy angles. Makes you appreciate Colonnade and Sea-Tac all the more.

A tad dicey on this one

A tad dicey on this one

After the ride I popped into Black Diamond for a visit to the bakery. Back in the day, when I was a cub reporter at The Seattle Times and assigned to cover suburban news (what there was of it), I’d occasionally find myself in Black Diamond for a story involving some of the local characters. It was quite a place back then, still hanging onto its coal-mine heritage and full of iconoclastic rugged individualist types.

But the Black Diamond Bakery was the bomb! It was the only place you could get brick-oven bread baked fresh that morning. The stuff was ambrosia, succulent, chewy, subtle. I’d haul three or four loaves back home to Seattle and keep them frozen, then pop them in the oven when it was time to eat.

It’s funny, back then the city was full of fake cheeseball stuff — remember Langendorf? — and you had to go to the outlying districts for the good, authentic, real deal. Today it’s just the opposite. The outlying areas are being destroyed by tacky soulless malls while city neighborhoods, where they aren’t being consumed by faceless condos with tanning salons and sandwich shops on street level, are keeping it real.

The Black Diamond Bakery still has good stuff, but with Macrina, Essential, Tall Grass and other neighborhood bakeries here, I can load up on a ride around town just as well. And the street I live on has more elevation gain than the whole of Lake Sawyer. Hopefully Tiger will be clearing up soon — it’s only a little more than 3 weeks to official opening day (April 15)!

Colonnade Video — Teaser?

In Mountain Biking, Videos on March 21, 2009 at 8:06 pm

The Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance is showing video of Wade Simmons at Colonnade. Pretty cool, but I’m thinking it’s a teaser or trailer or something. Several clips are repeated and the good stuff flashes by too quick or is off-angle. Watch for a better take in something commercial soon.

Anyway, here ’tis —

Bell helmets shoot by Studio Nemo from Todd Templeman on Vimeo.

Today’s Ride: No Country for Old Cyclists

In Bicycling, Today's Ride on March 20, 2009 at 6:37 pm
Accidental bather

Accidental bather

I was out making my usual rounds through the U District when whoa! a mini-Katrina! It got really dark, then fat raindrops started falling and within 138 seconds I was in a veritable deluge. I ducked into Fluidride to sit it out and founder Simon Lawton asked if I needed anything. Um, what did he have in a complete change of clothes?

“Oh, I see,” he said. “You’re here for 30 minutes of shopping!”

The showroom is coming along, with an ETA of a week from Sunday. This is the one with the track lighting, black interior and the new line of white Evil bikes, including the Revolt with Dave Weagle’s DELTAsystem. We’ll keep ya posted!

Hey it's Seattle...what d'ya expect???

Hey it's Seattle...what d'ya expect???

Eventually the rain let up and I continued over to Fremont, then made the long slog up Fremont hill to Phinney Ridge and home. Fremont hill is a thing of joy, of course. Not really that bad, you can kind of zone out because there’s plenty of shoulder clearance for traffic to pass by, and the grade, although steady, is nothing like Denny or Queen Anne. When I commuted to and from The Seattle Times back in the day, I rode Fremont several times a week, often after dark had descended. Wish I’d had the kind of HID or LED lighting then that they have today.

Daily Roundup: Iron Horse is broke, Armstrong’s revenge, Chicks and Bikes

In Bicycling, Daily Roundup, Mountain Biking on March 19, 2009 at 10:47 pm

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News: Iron Horse goes down. We’ve known for some time the company was on the ropes — as a friend put it, “How did those guys screw up so bad?” Iron Horse helped make the DW-link and could’ve rode that, um, horse to surefire success. But somehow it never found quite the right niche or following. RIP. The new hot downhill bike to watch this year is Evil. It doesn’t have Dave Weagle’s link, but he helped design the frame and Evil put together the bling. We’ll be checking it out at Fluidride.

Summit Daily News, Colorado: “When soon-to-be-the-king David slayed Goliath in 1 Samuel of the Old Testament, the people of Israel didn’t say, ‘Great job David, but would you mind doing that again next year’?” Wonderful lede btw. The story is about Lance Armstrong’s return to the Leadville 100, the grueling mountain bike race where Lance got his ass handed to him by Dave Wiens, delighting Wiens’ many fans. Unlike Lance, Wiens has never been suspected of using drugs and is so upright an individual he is in fact beyond suspicion. With Lance the truth will come out some day — you don’t beat an entire peloton on drugs without doing drugs yourself. In the meantime, we can look forward to Dave putting the big hurt on Lance again this year, even if Lance has the Tour under his belt. Mountain biking, as Lance found out when he was winning tours and decided to try his hand at the tougher sport, ain’t for road weenies. ‘Nuf said!

Chicks and Bikes: Nuthin’ but pix. Have you checked out this blog? Inspiring to say the least…

OK guys I linked. Now where's my t-shirt???!!

OK guys I linked. Now where's my t-shirt???!!

Today’s Ride: Trialsin at UW!

In Bicycling, Today's Ride on March 19, 2009 at 10:10 pm

Today’s ride took me all around north Seattle, but the highlight was riding through the University of Washington campus. I was practicing some “skinny” riding on the raised curbs by the entrance when a crop of trials bikes grommed on by. Little low-slung single speeds with no seats. I knew exactly where they were headed, because I’ve practiced moves there myself. I’m no trials rider, but it’s a good place to do wheelie drops and step-ups. The plaza outside William H. Gates Hall.

Harder than they made it look

Harder than they made it look

They did a few wheelie warmups and then began hopping around like jack rabbits, up on the walls and barricades and concrete rounds, jumping from one raised object to another. At one point they scoped out a fairly tricky move but backed off. “It’s doable, apart from the low clearance and, uh, the glass,” as one put it. You miss, you crash through the window. Not good.

No raised object went unhopped

No raised object went unhopped

I chatted with them a bit. The one on the white bike was a student at the U; the other three were students from Western Washington University in Bellingham. I asked if they rode Galby (Galbraith Mt.) in Bellingham, but no: They only do trials. But they knew bikes. The U.W. guy pointed at my bike and asked, “Is that ti? How old? Ten years?” Yeah, he nailed it. My Titus titanium HC hardtail is pushing on the big 1-0. He said he guessed from the fork (not quite 10 but old), the Chris King hubs and the King rasta headset. Sheesh, he couldn’t have been more than a teenager when I got my bike.

He cleared the whole set of bollards

He cleared the whole set of bollards

They put on quite a show, for about 15 minutes, then raced off to the next skillz set. Cool dudes, thanks for the highlights!

Daily Roundup: How many drunks? 3-feet-please moves ahead, Days of Dirt teaser

In Bicycling, Daily Roundup, Mountain Biking, Videos on March 18, 2009 at 9:59 pm

Not Your Average Bike Messenger: “Joking around, I changed my Facebook status to “How Many Drunks Will I Run Over Today With My Bicycle?” I got some funny responses throughout the day while I was riding, including “not enough” “extra points if they are wearing orange,” and “be a human pinball machine.”

Biking Bis:”A Washington state bill that would give bicyclists 3 feet of clearance from passing motorists has passed the House by a 63 to 32 vote. The legislation has been passed along to the Senate, where it was transferred to the Transportation Committee.”

Two killer trailers out on “Days of Dirt,” due in April. YouTube is below. PinkBike has a different, higher res teaser. Worth the look!

Today’s Ride: AIG t’s — git ’em while they’re hot!

In Bicycling, Today's Ride on March 18, 2009 at 9:15 pm

Today I had errands that took me up north to the Greenwood District. While cruising through I saw a wonderment in the window of a local store on Greenwood Ave. N. just north of N. 85th St.

Now who would want one of THESE?

Now who would want one of THESE?

The shop turned out to be a Mexican grocery market and restaurant called La Conasupo.

Bueno paraphernalia...

Bueno paraphernalia...

The shirt from what I could tell was a soccer shirt. Soccer’s big in Mexico, of course, but the team looks to come from England — or did before the Big Meltdown.

So yeah, maybe the shirt is a collectors item.

I’ll pass.

And I did, on my way up to 95th and over to Aurora, then onward to Northgate. Always a joy riding a bike to a shopping mall. You can park right outside the store you want, and be off in a flash.

It was a pleasant day, warmer than in recent weeks. Spring may be on the way after all!

We’ll keep ya posted!

Portland’s Metrofiets: A Bike That Can Haul

In Bicycling on March 18, 2009 at 11:17 am

At the past weekend’s Seattle International Bike Expo I connected up with Phillip Ross and Jamie Nichols of Metrofiets.

A great bike blog, AustinOnTwoWheels, had asked me to look them up and post something. My piece went up today.

So what do I think of Metrofiets? If I didn’t have a car, I’d definitely be interested. Although I do nearly all my shopping, errands and so on on my around-town bike, I’m not set up to haul heavy items. I have a Chrome bag that can swallow nearly an entire grocery cart, but it’s not pleasant to ride far with that much weight and bulk. And for getting home a 40-pound bag of organic fertilizer, I resort to the horseless carriage.


Metrofiets offers incredible workmanship, durability, componentry and head-turn factor — for a price. But this is a lifelong investment. Even living on a steep hill as I do, I wouldn’t be averse to having a box bike for the innumerable things it and only it can do.

(Note in comments on my piece I clarified a couple of things. Jamie’s a co-owner, the joints are welded, then “dressed” to give a brazed look, and Phil gives props to Maarten van Andel for the step-thru concept.)

Today’s Ride: Lance Is, So Should You

In Bicycling, Today's Ride on March 17, 2009 at 7:01 pm

Today’s ride: Mucho errands, so I popped over to the U District by way of Fremont and the Burke-Gilman Trail, then my standard Ravenna Way — Green Lake ride home. Uneventful for once, and the sun was even out.

I did enjoy the sign in Gregg’s Greenlake Cycles.

Lance is on Twitter, too, and so can you!

Lance is on Twitter, too, and so can you!

But I have to say, I’m going stir crazy on these in-city rides. I do as many hills as I can, but it’s just not the same as climbing Tiger Mountain or Pyramid Peak (ha!). Will we ever get weather warm enough to melt the snow and dry things out? Argghhhhh….