Friday, January 29, 2016

I'm In A Pooh Kind Of Mood

I'm getting sick. Which sucks because I had planned on riding my first weekend ride of 2016 this weekend. But not feeling completely ok makes for great pondering and dreaming conditions, so right now I'm sitting here, staring at the list of Cascade rides this year. I'm wondering if I can do the Red-Bel in one day back AND forth. Technically the ride is only one way, but I was thinking that I could bike up to Bellingham, turn around, and bike back home again. This would make for an excellent test for the Seattle to Portland ride a month later.

The only argument against doing this ride is the Chuckanut Drive portion of it. Chuckanut Drive is the final stretch of the ride and it's awful. I've biked to Bellingham twice and both times I almost died on that stretch. From heart attacks. Not really, but I was terrified the entire time I biked on that road. There's no shoulder and no ditch, just mountain side, and the road is windy. I fucking hate that road.

Chuckanut Drive

The straightest part of the road
Other than this road, the ride up to Bellingham is beautiful, so maybe I'll just ride up to Chuckanut and turn around.

But I digress.. first step is to get over this whatever-it-is fast, then I can start planning longer weekend rides.

This sounds about right
I bought a new light yesterday, but it's too early to tell if it's good or not. It's the
Cygolite Dash 350, but it doesn't seem bright enough. I turned the angle of the Cygolite 500 down a bit and it seems to do a much better job at lighting up the road.

Happy Friday and all that.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Nick Allard: It's not the wettest day ever, but close

And about revenge on my arch nemesis

What are you smiling about?
Last week, Nick Allard said today was going to be "the wettest day ever". I feel that's a somewhat bold statement. Considering we're talking Seattle and that "ever" is a really long time. Nonetheless, that's what he said.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Kiro TV is probably the worst station when it comes to report weather as far as accuracy goes. Why am I watching then? I figure it's some deep seeded need to be lied to. Or perhaps it's got to do with consistency - you know, at least they're wrong all the time.

It is wet today. Not sure about the "ever" part, but I was thanking my awesome rain jacket, rain pants, and rockin' fenders as I was making my way in - silently hoping I haven't committed too many sins, arks, rain, and all that.

Lots of rain, lots of accidents. All though, since Amazon does promise to deliver food to your door, I don't really see the grounds for complaints here.

You said you wanted it delivered at your door
I saw my arch nemesis last night. One of these days I'm gonna get him. Not sure how yet, but this guy needs to be taught a lesson. He keeps passing me where he shouldn't, creating dangerous situations. I'm open to suggestions as to how to get back at him. Sure, I could always turn the other cheek, but the way things are going I stand to risk more severe injuries to my cheek than a slap.
Passive aggressive enough?
I really don't understand bicyclists who aren't considerate to fellow bicyclists. While not all cyclists are created equal, we are ALL cyclists! We are all prepared to risk life and limb by going out on public roads on bicycles. We are all vulnerable together. So shouldn’t we stick together?

And look, Captain America can - why can't you?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

They See Me Rollin' ... They Hatin'

To helmet or not helmet
My grandma always told me there are two subjects one never brings up in polite conversation. The number has now been amended to three, so be very careful. These days, one should never mention politics, religion, or helmets.

For the Star Wars lover
The thing I've found with people who bike is that they are very opinionated. There is no middle road - there's usually my way or the highway. The topics of disagreement range from steel or carbon, rim brakes or disc brakes, cleats or no cleats, and helmets aren't exempt from things to have very strong opinions about. The first few subjects aren't for non-bikers. Bring up the topic of steel frame or carbon to a non-biker, and you either risk them falling asleep or desperately start to search for someone else to talk to.

This is true for most things bike. But the strange thing about helmets is that people who've never sat foot or ass on a bike, not only have opinions about helmets - but strong opinions. The arguments against range from nanny-states to comfort.
For the fashionista
For those of you who feel strongly against wearing helmets, I'd like for you to try this simple scientific experiment to determine for yourself whether or not helmets are useful. Put on a helmet, and have a friend/enemy hit you over the head with a bottle. If you're more daring, try a baseball bat or a frying pan. Now take off the helmet and try it again.

For the fruit lover
Biking is not the only sport that have helmets. Skateboarders, mountain climbers, skiers and snowboarders, football and hockey players, baseball and cricket batsmen, sky-divers, fencers, soap-box derby racers, polo players and horseback riders all wear helmets. Every one of these sports requires a helmet, and yet not one of these sports require you to be in traffic.
Helmet AND goggles
To me helmets say “I like my brain,” or if you prefer “I am a dork!”. I do like my brain, for what it is, and my friends will assure you that I am a world class dork, so if the helmet fits...

You see, the trouble is there aren’t enough spare brain cells rattling around up there that I can afford to sacrifice a single one of them to a head injury. If I ever should find that my brain cells have multiplied like rabbits, I could give up helmets, but in the mean time, I have to protect the few that are rattling around up there.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Best Things In Life Are Far From Free

If I'm to tally up all the dineros I've plunked down on bike related purchases, I'm almost at the point now that I would be scared to do so. Not that every penny wasn't well spent, but it's amazing how fast it adds up. First and foremost, there's the bike itself. Because it would be rather silly to buy bike gear if I didn't have a bike - but stranger things have happened.

Walking around in all spandex and cleats could after all be a fetish of mine. Or I could be a wanna-be bicyclist who can't afford to buy a real road bike, so I just dress the part in gear I bought at Goodwill. You know how they say to dress for the job you want, and the job I want happens to be a professional cyclist. So there's that.

But since the above is not why I have spent many a dollar on clothing and other equipment, I guess I'm less of a weirdo than I think I am.

Speaking of spending money on bikes; when I had my new brakes installed last week, this guy walked into the shop with his apparently malfunctioning mountain bike - that it turns out he spent over $10,000 on.

Carbon Demo 8 I
My knee-jerk reaction was "holy hell! Why on earth would you fork out that much on a bike?!?!?"

Does the fog make the bike more awesome?
But then I started thinking of my purses, and how I didn't even bat an eye when I paid for not one, not two, but three of these puppies.

My precious...
I'm not even going to say how much. Let's just say my wallet was about to catch fire, due to an overheated credit card.

I suppose it's all about perspective and priorities. That being said, I'm still far, far away from paying 10 grand for a bike. And let it be said that I treat my purses far better than that guy's poor mountain bike had been treated.

And while I would do this:

Not sleeping with fishes
I am far from doing this:

Not anytime soon...

Monday, January 25, 2016

A Recovering Pluviophile With New Brakes + Tom Hardy

I lied. I don't often lie, but I find that I have.

Let's back up a bit first to this post where I profess my love for rain. So maybe I don't love rain always. I think the rain I was referring to and love is the none-subfreezing-directly-in-my-face kind as of late. I realized that I might not love rain as much as previously claimed as I biked in this morning - completely dry; for the first time in a long while, and it felt glorous. My pants didn't go swish swish and I could actually see the road

Not only was I dry, but I shaved off 10 minutes on the commute. Not sure how that happened, but as +Anthony Pawley stated, "My Marathon rides like a wet mop" - and anyone who's ever ridden on a wet mop knows that it's way slower than riding on a dry one.

So yeah, I might not be the pluviophile I thought I was.

I got new brakes installed Friday and the bike already feels safer to ride. I think I've finally found the LBS I was searching for, where the people who work there also love biking. Granted, they are more mountain bike types, but they know what they are doing. Same reason I wouldn't take my car to the grocery store to ask for advice, I shouldn't ask the good people at REI about anything bike related.

Speaking of Friday. Man, was it nice to bike home in daylight, not to mention sunshine. I tried capturing every pedal stroke to my hard drive so I could fuel from it on drearier days.

The 164th hill

Huuuge shoulder
I don't know what this sign is or why the people on it are deformed.

This neighborhood's got it all - even a bicyclist!
I know the sunshine won't last this time around, but it was good while it lasted. Until next time, I'll keep these two days in my motivational pocket.

Also, there is this:

Yummm - o!

Friday, January 22, 2016

How BikeChick Got Her Groove Back

I love biking again. Not sure what changed, but this morning's ride in was - as Tony the Tiger would say - Just Great!
This bus is my nemesis  #245
Funny how much of a difference five minutes make in the morning. The streets filled up with cars and people and Sammamish High was a clusterfuck as always. A city bus blocked my bike lane, forcing me up on the sidewalk - amongst students, two cars stopped in the bike lane to let off the bright lights of tomorrow, and a car took a right turn through the bikelane right in front of me.

Other than that, I had a glorious commute. Monsoon rain and all.

Speaking of rain - I can't even begin to tell you how much my new fenders rock. I biked through two giant puddles that looked more like swimming pools today, and there was zero splatter. Best investment so far apart from the lights - that I'm starting to question to quality of.

The lights are great for being seen, but I can barely see the road with my current lights. I have two lights, respectively 750 and 500 lumens, but as I've been told - the quality of the light output depends more on how the light reflects and less on the lumens. This might be wrong, but I feel I need better lights. Whoever pointed out that I should be able to see better after the two flats I had, was right. I should be able to see better, dark roads or not.

To be seen
To see
One more thing I have to remedy this weekend is the quality of the brakes. Last time I was in to my LBS, the mechanic said I had about a month left on my pads. It hasn't been a month yet, but the front brake doesn't feel stable anymore and none of the brakes grip like they used to. The front brake feels bumpy when I pull it and makes me nervous. I'll take the bike in after work today.

But why do I have my groove back? Since my name's not Stella, and my non-groove had nothing to do with men - I'm not entirely sure. But - I'll take it!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

On Your Left!

Here's karma in action: One of the commuters of last year has resurfaced. But he is an asshelmet. He passed me last night in this intersection, almost getting us both killed.

SE 38th St
In the intersection above, one has to get over from the sidewalk to the middle lane in order to cross the road, which means one has to slow down and look for traffic before crossing. This is if you're coming from the left of  150th ave passed the Chevron station.

As I was slowing down last night on my way home, I see a shadow in my peripherals. The shadow was not slowing down. Turns out the shadow was another bicyclist - and that bicyclist didn't slow down. Instead he plowed right passed me - on my left, which was ok, but he failed to see a car that was coming down the road behind us. The very car I was slowing down for and that he didn't see. So what did he do? In order to not get hit by the car, he swung his bike to the right - where I was, so I had to swerve right which caused me to tip over. It was a clusterfuck.

Needless to say, I was pissed. Fortunately neither I or my bike were injured/damaged, but I wasn't able to catch up to him to give him a piece of my mind. Possibly push him off his bike. Even though I'm a lover and not a fighter, I wouldn't have ruled out a physical response to his asshelmetry of last night.

This morning as I'm biking in, he passes me again. And much like last night, he doesn't say a word, passes me with no room, and at the same time as a car is passing us. Great timing, dude. However, this morning I caught up with him. If you see me on the road, you'll probably think I'm a slow poke of a Doris, but don't let the appearances fool you. It's not that I can't bike fast, but I hate arriving to work all sweaty - hence the snail speed.

I trailed his ass for a couple of blocks, but didn't pass him. I was waiting until we'd get to the scene of the crime of last night where there's a traffic light. However, before we could get to that intersection, he ended up almost getting flattened by a car in the intersection below. He plowed right into the intersection, down from 153rd Ave SE onto Se 38th St. Problem was there was a car coming from his right. At the same time. I had stopped because I know the line of sight in that intersection is terrible. All that was missing was popcorn - and it would have been glorious.

Listen, I wouldn't have enjoyed the moment so much had he actually been hit, but it was funny and satisfying to see him freak out.

He muttered something after the car had passed. He completely ignored me. I didn't end up saying anything to him, but I think he knew why I had trailed him and hopefully he learned his lesson. I let him take off down Se 38th St and didn't attempt to catch up with him.

The point of my rant is this: How fucking difficult is it to give fellow bicyclists space and/or signal that you intend to pass? I don't expect much from cars, but other bicyclists?!? And especially fellow commuters.

I may or may not say something to him next time our paths cross. Haven't decided yet.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

So it's gonna be forever or it's gonna go down in flames

My coworker is celebrating her divorce. When I say celebrating, I mean that the more we learn about what the ex-asshat is doing, the better off without him she is.

After more than ten years of marriage, he took up and moved in with a news-to-her girlfriend he'd been seeing for a couple of years. He then texted my coworker saying he wanted a divorce. Who the fuck texts someone after ten years of marriage saying something like that?!?!?

Celebration cake
She then found out that he'd been taking out all the equity of their house - and opened up a credit card with the house as collateral. Her childhood home.

I'm sure their relationship wasn't perfect, but I think you owe the person you're married to a face to face conversation at the minimum. I believe it falls under common decency.

The above just goes to show that there are absolutely no guarantees when it comes to relationships - and it proves that the person you marry might not be the same person you divorce. People get nasty and do things one never thought them capable of. At least not that person. But true colors and all that.

On a commuting note, I am still suffering under the not-wanting-to-bike-in. This to shall pass, I'm sure, but it's getting harder and harder to get on that bike in the morning. I'm not saying I have to force myself to bike yet, but I feel it's getting there. Perhaps what I need is a group function of sorts - so here's hoping that Chilly Hilly will give me the boost I need.

Looking forward to this
I also am more than a little paranoid about flats, which doesn't help either with the wanting to bike. I thought myself immune towards flats for months so I'll admit it caught me completely off guard - which I know is silly since getting flats now and again is as par for the course as you can get. I admit that I'm slightly obsessed about flats, probably more so than I ought to be.

I am a creature of convenience, which seems an oxymoron, being that I love biking so much (well, usually I do). I am, though, and getting flats certainly doesn't fit the category. The furthest I will go to "roughing it" is spending a night at a motel instead of a tent. My body is just so not made for the outdoors and the outdoors feels the same way about me. I am deathly allergic to mosquito bites and if there's ten people in a tent and me (big tent), you can bet your ass I'm the only one ending up covered in bites.

Which is why I sadly won't do RAW, even though I would love to do the ride itself. Bike across America, you say? Well, there is indoor sleeping for that.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Every Damn Pebble - Tire Review Plus STP!

Specialized Armadillo Elite
No more flats yet (knock on wood and no more black cats crossing) - I have named the black cat in question Flat Cat - but holy shit I can feel every little pebble in the road on these tires.

Since I haven't really biked on the road with the Armadillos yet, I won't comment on that part of it, but as far as my commute goes, they are not exactly smooth. I can feel every little bump or rock and as far as handling goes I'll give them a B-. And we all know that they didn't exactly last long before I got a flat, but that wasn't really the tires fault. I think.

When I say I haven't biked on the road, I mean I haven't taken these tires out on longer rides. I'm thinking their road debut will be Chilly Hilly in a month.

But as the guy in the store said when I bought them; these are winter tires so maybe they aren't meant to be comfortable.

I'm so excited, and I just can't hide it!
I have just registered for the STP - or as my coworker thought I said - my STD. She was wondering why I had to register that and perhaps thought that it was a little TMI. I don't know why she would think an STD would bring on that level of excitement, but then again being diagnosed with Herpes might have been my life long dream. There are stranger things.

Anywho, I am excited and can already picture sun and summer bike riding. I didn't buy any of their gear.

On a non-bike related note, I finally got around to see Hunger Games last night. Wasted time. Storyline was too rushed - especially after all that build-up of the three previous installments of the series.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Another Brick In The Wall

A nice, warm, commute - wouldn't it be nice...
For the first time since I started biking to work I had a brief moment of wanting to take the warm and dry car in instead of the fresh air and exercise.  Instead of looking forward to my morning ride, all I could feel was an aversion towards putting on my bike clothes and be outside.  Like I said, it was only a brief, passing thought, but nonetheless - it happened.

I woke up, heard the drizzle outside, felt the cold air hit me from the open window, and just for a tiny moment the temptation of the car and its comfort called me like a treacherous siren calling for sailors. And we all know how that turned out for the sailors.

So I put on my bike clothes and I chose the bike, but it didn't prevent me from casting a longing glance towards my car.
But then I remembered one of the reasons why I'm on my bike
The irony is that today was actually one of the mildest days we've had in a while. In fact, the weather was pretty much perfect. I suspect the brief reluctance I felt towards biking came from the icy weather and the two flats. Or perhaps it's normal to feel tempted to drive once in a while.

The ride in was good. Since it's Martin Luther King Day, traffic was light, and the only people still going to work were people like me who have professions where there's no such thing as a bank holiday.

Two things happened. I almost got high and I could have been blown to pieces by a bomb.

None of which happened.

Both things took place on the last stretch of road in to work. And both things happened right across from the hospital.

There was a group of homeless guys standing in the middle of the sidewalk as I biked passed. Two seconds after I had passed them, I got hit by a cloud of weed. And the cloud clung on like cobwebs in an attic.

It's not ticking and it doesn't say ACME Dynamite Factor on it
For sizing reference
Right after the first incident, I spotted a bag in the middle of the sidewalk. At first I thought I might be hallucinating - weed cloud and all, but it was a real bag. Like a moron, I took it with me to check it out. Since the bag wasn't ticking, I felt fairly certain it wasn't going to blow up in my face Hurtlocker style. It didn't. Obviously. Turns out the bag only had a hardhat in it. Weird. Most likely this was patient belongings that for some reason was abandoned.

Perhaps the bag belonged to a construction worker who quit his job after being hit by a crane. I would quit my job too if that happened.

 But man, getting flats is adding bricks to that wall real fast.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Preliminary Fender Review + Asshelmetry

Me being me - let's start off with the asshelmetry. How hard is it to signal in one form or another that you intend to pass me? Especially given that there's only you and me on bicycles on the road these days?

The event of last night makes me long for colder days when people who have no business biking were too cold to be out on two wheels.

Another rocking illustration made of yours truly
I am biking along an already dangerous area of my commute due to zero bike lane when this asshelmet decides to pass me at the same time as a car has the same notion - with the result of me nearly ending up in the ditch.

As irony would have it, the asshelmet turned right onto 164th, which is a long climb. I caught up with him, fueled on anger as I was. I wanted to say something to the asshelmet, but given that it's a long hill and he might pass me later on - I didn't say anything.

Also, since that the best prediction of future behavior is past behavior, who knew what kind of crazy was hiding under that helmet. I had no desire to find out, hence the not so typical passive response from me.

Sweet fenders - ugly water bottle
So - fenders.

I've tested them out for almost a week now and the verdict is a good one. The bike is far less dirty and, more importantly, I am less dirty. The front fender is still rattling a little but since I haven't done anything to look into why - I'm not holding it against said fender. Yet.

Today I'm going out to get new gloves and a pump. With your kind and plentiful recommendations, I feel well prepared. Thank you all so much.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

While You Were Freezing

I registered for the first official bike ride yesterday. I say official because there was no end to my bike season.

I'm excited and a little worried. With Cascade rides, the number of asshats tend to rise drastically. All though I doubt anything will top the asshattery that took place when I did PROS with COGS

The Group Ride Asshat Scale
Apparently "asshattery" isn't a real word and I was too lazy to turn off the auto correct. Probably shouldn't quit my day job to pursue a career in graphic design.

My experience so far with Cascade rides has been that there are a lot of weekend warriors mixed with matching spandex subgroups. The "look at us, we are matching condoms".  As a sign of my distaste for the kind, I think I will wear mismatching socks. Maybe I can even start a movement. Our secret member sign will be mismatching socks. Then all we have to do is exchange knowing looks.

No matchy-matchy
Speaking of form - or the lack of, I am curious to see what the almost five months of commuting since Kitsap Color Classic has done for mine. And this is the exciting part - to find out what a difference a few months make. See, I can't really tell from commuting since I make a point of biking slow enough to not sweat.

I've missed seeing other bikers. All matching spandex hating aside, there's just something about biking with other people. Not with other people necessarily, because I'm really not a social cyclist - which is why organized rides are a great fit for me. In this setting I can choose to bike "alone" or I can interact with others.

This morning I actually saw two other bike commuters - the first ones I've seen since November. Apparently people have started thawing, but while you were freezing - I was still biking.

Not A Real Post - Watchers Gonna Watch

I felt the picture of yesterday was so crappy that I decided to do a retake.

Here's the real picture.

So again:


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Cosplay Is Much Harder Than I Thought And More Charts

I have been working semi-hard on assembling a Watcher costume. But since my life has been filled with deflated tires, I haven't been able to give the task the attention it deserves.

Good things (debatable) come to those who wait. You may or may not have been waiting, most likely you didn't even know that I was working on this. Chances are you didn't know. Or cared. Unless you're +Ben Folsom who said he would pose in this costume as well.

Here's the original:

I now know more about Watchers than I ever needed to know. +Dan Saunders was kind enough to give me a pass on the shaved head, but since this is the interweb I'm leaving out the head all together. Ok, so this is a work in progress. I may or may not put a little more effort into it - as this was a highly improvised use-what-you-have-on-hand kind of a thing. 

Scuse the scrubs
+Ben Folsom - the balls in your court now.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Fenders Gonna Fend - And Rule #1 Of The Brack Epic

The new fenders seem solid - deformed looking bike or not, +Thomas Behrendt. Yes, I got a little butthurt over that comment. No one likes their baby to be criticised. Even if it's something only a mother can love. Something I strongly believe my bike is not. Because it's cool.

Bow ties are cool too.

+Josh Ross suggested that it might be the angle of the photo so here's another one. Sadly the bike is a little dirty today.

Josh Ross might be on to something
Back to the fenders. So far so good. It started rain-snowing yesterday afternoon so I got to test the fenders out in the rain. I'm not saying they are great fenders yet because only a proper downpour will determine that. Light rain doesn't count as far as testing goes. Because that's like testing a raincoat on a sunny day.

I did notice a slight rattle, +Leroy Christner, but I suspect that's due to the screws being a little loose - much like the owner's. The one thing missing from my tools are - tools, so I won't be able to tighten anything until I get home. I should add a tool set to my tools.
Not sure what nipple pinching has to do with trolling...
The internet is a strange place - a place of wonder but also the home of trolls. Trolls usually like to hide behind a veil of anonymity, but once in a while they appear in the form of people you thought better than that.

There's a blog I used to read on a regular basis, but I quit since the blog got boring and bitter. It used to be funny in a snarky way, but now it's just mean. Mean and spiteful and not the least bit funny anymore.

See, I was hoping that people who bike together are also nice to each other. I was wrong. This makes me sad and a little pissed off. But as I may have mentioned a few times - people wearing matching spandex are rarely nice and considerate, and I know for a fact that the blogger in question is known for wearing matching spandex on a regular basis. So there's that.
Bike Chick's Spandex Asshat Scale
A person commenting on the above blogger's latest post, referred to The Breck Epic Rule #1. I think that's a good rule.

– 1. Don’t be a dick. (This really covers a lot of ground.)

Monday, January 11, 2016

Finally Seeing The Light - Both Metaphorically And Literally

New fenders! And what sweet fenders they are. With that, I am planted thoroughly in camp #teamfenders364.

Fenders that will keep me dry(er)
Nice and snug
No face splatter
Notice the clean bike?
The fenders were pricey. As in $120 pricey. Plus tax pricey. Since it didn't rain this morning, I have no idea how much of a difference this makes - but notice something else? It's a miracle. I have a clean bike!

One issue with the fenders on is that I won't be able to brush my tires for glass as easily as before. Without placing it upside down, that is. And I will be honest and say it's not very likely I will do that several times on my commute. So there's that.

My coworker suggested that I'd get mudflaps like these:

It's been a couple of weeks since winter solstice and there's actually light in the mornings. Not very, but I can see a faint glimmer when I start out at 6:45 am.

As you can see from the pictures, I still have the armadillos on.

The commute in this morning was cold. There was frost on the ground and I wasn't sure it was safe to bike in - but after testing the frozen asphalt out and finding it non-slippery, I decided to go for it. I probably looked like an idiot standing there kicking on the ground to test it out. Turns out it was a sound decision since it probably was too cold to be slick.

Only one asshat driver on my way in. Apparently he just couldn't wait for me to turn before he squeezed by as well - with oncoming traffic preventing him from giving any room. Now I shall go an check my tires for glass.