One Bike to Ride Them All

If you read my previous posts you can review the on-going evolution of my hybridized mountain bike. I decided that I want just one bike for local errands and recreation. I live in Seattle and the region has many rail trails and local governments that promote cycling.  So my bike needs to handle city streets and the obstacles as well as asphalt and gravel trails. Comfort, maneuverability, and load-carrying take precedent over speed.
Continue reading


Wasn’t it just August? Layering for a cold November ride

Now to start with, I AM a Seattleite (the denizens of Seattle really call themselves that). I’m used to cool, humid, wet, gray winter days. It rarely gets below freezing and very rarely in the teens Fahrenheit (the record low of 0°F was in 1950). We get a big wet sloppy snowstorm once in a while and a couple inches of snow bring this hilly city to a halt.

So today it was sunny and cool and I thought I should get out for a ride. My days on the bike have slacked off since September and it takes some extra initiative to get out. Sunny or just rainless days are rare and I should make every effort to ride when the weather is better. The weather stats are pretty typical for a winter day: 45°F, 50% humidity and it was windy today with winds from the NNW at 15-25MPH. I felt the 15MPH wind at least and had the total pleasure (NOT) of getting headwinds coming AND going on this trip. Note the humidity was rather low today, with high humidity levels being common (and temperatures in the mid-forties Fahrenheit).  Continue reading

Suburban Seattle Rail Trail Labor Day Bike Ride

I didn’t get out of town for Labor Day weekend and with the weather improving, I decided to go for a good ride. This time I headed north on the Burke-Gilman and Sammamish River rail trails, entering the trail near Matthews Beach Park in the northeast corner of Seattle and passing though the bedroom communities of Lake Forest Park, Kenmore, Bothell, a side trip into Kirkland and turning around in the town of Woodinville.

Continue reading

An Afternoon Bike Ride on Seattle Streets and Rail Trails

I was up for a good urban adventure last Wednesday, so I loaded up the bike and took off for a loop through downtown Seattle using as many rail trails as possible. I live in the northeast quadrant of Seattle and it is about 7 miles to the downtown area by the most direct route, but using rail trails and some connecting streets, I made a trip to the west side of the city, along the waterfront, back through the city center and back home in a 27 mile loop.

Continue reading

A February Bike Ride on the Cedar River Trail

I gave my wife a ride to a conference in Renton Washington yesterday (2/11/15) and took the bike along. We haven’t traveled any of the rail trails south of Seattle and this was a good opportunity with little extra gas used. I had the southern section of the Interurban Trail in mind, but I checked for other trails in the area and found the Cedar River Trail that started a mile from the conference site.

Continue reading

Warm January Days in Seattle

Sunday and Monday were like spring with clear skies and 60F temperatures, We got up late Sunday and decided to take the dog for a walk, visiting the Ballard Sunday Farmer’s Market and then going to Discovery Park for a long walk.

Continue reading

Thrift store Novara Bonita bike test ride

After a rousing fall storm Saturday night, we got a little break in the weather and I got my thrift store Novara Bonita mountain bike out for a good ride.

My intent is to make this bike into a mini fatbike bikepacking rig– I’m going to call it “BabyFat.” I have a rigid fork on order that should arrive early next week.  As I posted previously, I have alreadt swapped out the stock WTB Weirwolf trail tires for a pair of fat Schwalbe Big Ben 26 x 2.15 universal tread tires and added an Axiom rear rack.

So I got 20 miles in on the Burke-Gilman Trail in Seattle, along with some city streets and dodging buses, car traffic and narrow lanes by doing a four block run up the back alleys in the University District.

So far so good! The bike is nimble and the tires roll fast and smooth. With a 55PSI maximum, they took on the asphalt root bumps across the trail without the bone-jarring thump of the 32C tires on my other bike. Expansion cracks and other pavement faults were far less daunting.

I was reinforced in my decision to go with a rigid fork. I don’t like the sudden changes when maneuvering with the suspension fork. The fat tires soak up enough of the bumps and I have zero plans to do anything approaching technical or single track riding: asphalt and graveled rail trails are my cycling world.

In fact, I like the handling and fit of this bike enough to put my Trek PDX on the market. I considered having the Trek wheels rebuilt and going with wider 37-40mm tires, but the frame is just a tad tall and long for me; the shorter reach of the Novara works form my body type.

I am going to leave some extra height on the steering tube of the rigid fork so I can play with the stem height. I have an adjustable Zoom stem on it now and I have good access to used stems, so I can go anywhere I want without spending too much. I ordered more spacers when I ordered the fork. I had to order a disc brake caliper mounting adapter too, as the caliper bolts directly to the bosses on the suspension fork where the rigid fork requires a right angle adapter. Lets hope that I have chosen the right parts. The fork itself is an experiment. When converting from a dynamic fork to rigid, it is necessary to include the height of the fork with the rider’s weight in place. The general technique is to measure the axle to crown height and then subtract 15-20% of the travel of the particular fork. The Manitou Trace 80 axle to crown distance is 470mm by my measurement and the rigid fork is spec’d at 453mm, so I should be close.

While I was out on my ride, I worked in a visit to the Recycled Cycles bike shop on Boat Street (no puns) and picked up a pair of Kona Jackshit platform pedals for $25. I wanted a bigger pedal– quite literally a platform– and I spent an evening on line shopping pedals. There is no end of pedals to choose from and at this point I really didn’t want to spend too much. I did want to get away from the shin bashing alligator-toothed touring/quill pedals I have been using. I’ve drawn blood just walking the bike, let alone riding. The Kona pedals have pins so they won’t be gentle, but they are HUGE and give good support. I put them on tonight and went for a quick spin. I was pleased with the result and I swear they improve my balance and control as well as being able to mash down on the crank.