Monday, October 31, 2011

Attack Cat!

About two weeks ago I was riding across the I-90 trail on Mercer Island when an approaching bicyclist yelled "Attack Cat"... I was majorly confused until I rounded the corner and this huge White cat jumped out of the bushes at me!

Since that time I've been carrying my camera and tonight it was out on the prowl again. I don't have a great attack video but he was thinking about his prey for the night. You can just tell from this video.

Hiding in the bushes!

That jogger was almost dead meat!

Afterwards when I didn't have my camera out another cyclist came by and I warned him and the cat did jump and he did swerve to miss it, but the cat was brushed by the back tire and ran back into the bushes. I went and looked and he was no where to be found, so that may be the last attack on bicyclists for a while until he has a new place to jump from.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Tack on Bicycles!

I rode to work on Friday morning like I always do, and on my way across the Mercer Island I-90 trail, I noticed a lot of folks with flat tires. I didn't think much of it, but I did slow down and confirm that the riders were "Ok" before riding on. After crossing the bridge I came to the I-90 tunnel and saw my friend and co-worker James, who was patching his tire. Two other cyclists stopped to help him out with the job. From one of the other riders I found out that he had counted 6 riders with flats from carpet tacks. James's flat was also caused by a tack, that made 7 we knew about.

On my way home, I rode with another buddy from work, Tim, and we saw three more cyclists stopped fixing flats. We stopped right after that and rubbed our tires hoping that we hadn't picked up any tacks ourselves. We were lucky so far.

The rest of the ride home was uneventful, but Tim mentioned that he has had a lot of flats by tack in the last month, and had tried various ways to avoid them. He tried using Slime tubes, Kevlar tires, tire liners etc all to no avail. I resolved to take some time on Saturday and see if I could locate the source of these tacks and clean them up.

Saturday at the crack of noon I headed to the hardware store where I bought a magnet on a stick.

I drove to the park near the Eastern side of the floating I-90 bridge. I had seen people with flats as far away as the Eastern I-90 bridge but James had said he thought he picked up the tack on the Western highrise. The riders I had seen were at the other end of the bridge. So I parked and started down the trail.

I resolved to sweep one side of the trail and the other side going back. From my test trials in the hardware store, I realized you have to be pretty near the object to snag it. When you walk and swing this magnet it traces sort of a "Z" down the path. The arc doesn't quite cover the whole area where you walk. If this was land mine sweeping, I'd be dead, but it's not.

I now realize that bicyclists are jerks to pedestrians on this bridge. Almost no one said "On your Right!" or rang a bell or horn so that I could hear them coming. With the traffic driving by at 60mph, bicyclists, myself included tend to push it and when a cyclist rides by and close to you at 20+mph, it's not pleasant. I'm as visible as it gets as I was wearing my highway worker vest and some lime green gloves, I look sort of like a blind person and still they mostly passed way too closely, and with no warning. Now that's not all riders but it is a lot of them. Anyway after two hours of a slow pace across the bridge I was pretty hopping mad at the too close riders, thinking about other uses for a cane.

Well after a little more than an hour I reached the Western high rise with only this to show for my trouble. Yep metallic dirt, probably rust from cars or bits from the re-bar in the concrete in the bridge.

I did pick up these bits of junk. Not really sharp, but who needs this trash to wash into the lake.

When I turned around to go back across the bridge I noticed a real blind person. This woman with her cane was over near the overlook fishing around in the bushes. I asked her what's up and could I help, and she mentioned that she had dropped her main cane and could I see it? All I could see were bushes, but when I used my magnet stick, I was able to push the bushes from side to side, and low and behold, found her cane. It was about 4ft below the observation deck and I was able to snare the loop on the handle with my stick and return it. I had been wondering why I had bothered to sweep a clean bridge with a magnet, but now I realize that I was supposed to be here and help this woman.

Next here comes a guy walking his bicycle! Yep another tack flat. He told me that he noticed the flat tire on the other end of the bridge and had walked across the rest of the way.

So I went back across the bridge. Near the Eastern high rise I met this family who was also out looking for tacks. Only unlike me, they had found some.

This girl had spotted about 20 tacks. Turns out her parents bicycle commute from Mercer Island to Seattle at about 6:30am and had both gotten flats. They had come back to look today and found a few tacks and were headed across the bridge to look for more. I saved them that trip and we headed back to where they had found their first tacks.

With my magnet and an extremely slow sweep along the trail and the side I collected these tacks.

You'd think that a pleasant bit of trail like this wouldn't have tube tearing menace in it. This is very near the spot where all the cyclists gather to meet for rides around Mercer Island. It's no where near the road, so someone had to walk or ride a bike here to drop these tacks. My theory is that it's a disgruntled pedestrian. But it could be a driver who is mad and knows where the bikes go. Or maybe some crazy love triangle among the cyclists who gather? I must watch too many soap opera movies. Crazy people don't need a reason to do crazy things.

I think I got them all and if next week you find one in your tire, I'm sorry but I spent as much time as I had to do this. I'm just hoping that whoever did this realizes that it's bloody dangerous to have an unexpected puncture. You lose a lot of control when the tire goes flat fast and if it's the front one you could lose enough control that you actually injure yourself or someone else.

We need to remember we are all on this planet together and we need to share the roads, not make them more dangerous for each other.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My Review of Breakaway Jacket

Originally submitted at Ibexwear

Everyone has two sides. Front and back, to be specific. This light, fast jacket has breathable Climawool® Lite in front, dense wool blend in back. A jacket that recognizes the essential humanity in us all. It's pretty deep. Innovative "dual-construction" Climawool® Lite/kni...

A great jacket for bicycle commuting

By Doryman from Seattle, WA on 10/13/2011


5out of 5

Sizing: Feels true to size

Sleeve Length: Feels true to length

Pros: Warm, Lightweight, Great Color, Comfortable

Best Uses: Bicycle Commuting

Was this a gift?: No

I bought a previous version of the breakaway in a color that is no longer offered. (Mustard) And it's been a great bicycling jacket. Then when the Vim jacket came out I bought one and put it away because I've noticed that Ibex doesn't always keep a good design around forever with bicycling coats. The Vim has pockets on the front, (bad for bicycling but I never put anything in there anyway) the Breakaway has one on the chest for my ID & a few $$, and one in the back to stash my battery for my helmet light, or my balaclava when it gets warm enough to switch to just a hat.

Now of course they have the new breakaway which is even better for bicyclists because of the reflective arm bands. The only thing nicer from the Vim coat was Velcro tabs for the wrists vs elastic. With the tabs you can adjust the air flow up your arms as the day warms up.

Also the windproof front handles Seattle Mist/light rain fine. You can skip the extra rain jacket unless it's pouring.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My Review of Showers Pass Club Convertible Bike Pants - Men's

Originally submitted at REI

A commuter's best friend, these Showers Pass Club Convertible pants seal out the weather. They're also breathable and can be converted to knickers when the ride home turns warm.

Pertty good rain pants for commuters

By Doryman from Seattle, WA on 10/12/2011


3out of 5

Waist: Feels true to size

Length: Feels true to length

Pros: Dries Quickly, Breathable, Warm, Comfortable

Cons: Zippers on pockets poke, Chafes

Best Uses: Road Biking, Commuting, Wet Weather

Describe Yourself: Avid Cyclist

Was this a gift?: No

I bought these pants to use for commuting here in Seattle. The first thing I noticed after taking a short ride was that the zipper pulls poked me in the fold of material at the waist when I bend over on the drops. The solution is for Showers pass to turn the zippers around so that when they are closed the pulls are at the bottom. Until they do that, I've elected to keep the pants but open the pocket about 2 inches so that the zipper pull is down a bit farther.

I've ridden in these pants for only about a week, but it's fall so I've had all kinds of weather. Warm/wet (high 60's) they are a bit warm, so unless its pouring I'm not bothering. I did try riding with the legs zipped off in "mist", but my socks were soaked by the time I got to work (water rolled down my leg into my neoprene booties) and I was still too hot. Then next day the temperature dropped to the 50's and it hailed, poured, blew sideways and I rode for about a 1/2hr in that mess. I was damp inside of the pants from my own sweat (I have hills on my route) but way less wet than I would have been without them. The legs are long enough to go over the top of my booties so no water ran in that way.

I've got a air horn air bottle mounted on the top bar and the bit of reflective tape on the pants just below the knee hit it on each stroke which was a bit irritating. These pants are a bit baggy on the lower leg. They are heavier than carrying a plain coated pants so when I think it only "might rain" they will get left home.

I have the Showers Pass Roadie pants as well, and they are not as waterproof as these, but then those breath better too.

I gave these 3 stars, for 1) installing the zippers upside down, 2) being too baggy around the lower leg. (I ride for 16 miles/1.5 hrs c/ rolling hills on my way to work) But recognize I have yet to find the "perfect" rain gear for bicycling.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mt Biking in Bend Oregon

On the side roads heading to the Mt. Biking Area in Bend. Strangely enough most folks DRIVE to go riding! The shop where we rented these bikes looked at us as if we were nuts, but it was only 2 miles, a nice 15 minute warmup ride if you ask me. (my Beautiful wife)

Me coming through the trees.
As you can see it's open forest and the area we went was nice and gradual trails. Easy stuff which is good because I'm a beginner Mt. Biker and have no desire to crash and burn.

All in all it was a great day out. Although my wife did fall when we returned. The disk brakes she had were sticky and she locked up the front wheel and did an end-over. I think those brakes were "crap" but the shop claimed of course that while touchy they were within spec. Whose stupid spec I don't know but it seemed to me like they could have been less sticky and worked just as well. Fortunately my wife isn't holding it against me, and so we are looking at Mt. Biking up here in Seattle. Unfortunately the bike shops which seem to rent bikes are no where near the Mt. Bike trails. Oh well. I'll figure something out. I have a rack and all.