Doing it all the hard way...

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


Way back in October of 2001 I found myself starting on plan B. I hadn’t known I would need a plan B, so to be honest, it wasn’t even a plan. I was moving into a lifeless two bedroom apartment on my way to divorce.  Asserting my neglected manhood I bought a black couch and a glass dining room table with black chairs. The stores were full of Halloween decorations and orange was featured prominently.  At IKEA I picked up some orange throw pillows and orange became my official accent color.  I was going BOLD. I added red and yellow pillows as they complimented the orange and black that had either actively or passively become a theme that I would call my own.

The vibrant colors served as a visual illustration of the positive energy that was present now that I was free from the negativity that had come to drag all of my family down. I embraced a bold palette to further separate me from the country beige that I had tolerated at best.

My high school colors were orange and gold (yellow was the stand in for gold a majority of the time) but that didn’t really hold any sway in 2001.  It only provided me some familiarity with the challenges of claiming an allegiance to orange.   Orange has become a color of freedom movements around the world and without intending to do so, it became that for me.  Freedom from oppression, freedom from negativity, freedom from deception. Freedom to be my true self.
Grandson Kyson David stylin' the orange
After I met Hottie she accepted my orange allegiance and has come to support it.  In my head orange remains a color signifying positive energy and Hottie is a big part of that.  When we were furnishing the cabin and needed cooking utensils Hottie managed to assemble a quiver of orange cooking weaponry. 

So if you ask me why orange; you may hear the preceding story, or you may not.  I believe that the origin is less important than the ongoing theme of positive energy and looking forward.

Orange on Wayne.  Orange on Garth.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Schwalbe Tire Booster Review Tubeless Inflator

We all knew these were coming.  It is here and it is awesome.  Everyone should have one.

From my reading it seemed the tubeless inflator and floor pump all-in-one combos worked well enough but were expensive and when used just as a pump they appeared to be less than ideal.   I held out and am glad I did. 

Operation of the Tire Booster is simple. Attach your floor pump to the presta valve and pump up the canister.  Pull the valve core from the wheel you are inflating and attach the Tire Booster hose.  Then flip the lever that opens the air flow and whoof-bing-bing; the tire inflates and the bead pings into place.   Flip the lever closed, remove the hose, replace the valve core on the wheel and pump it to your desired pressure.

Gone are the days of getting sweaty pumping as fast as you can pump waiting for fatigue to overtake denial.  No more clinking sounds as spent CO2 cartridges bounce off each other in your trash can after trying and failing to inflate your tubeless tires.  No more driving to the bike shop/gas station/friend’s house to use a compressor.   No more risking physical injury with some contrived inflation device hack.   No more puddles of orange sealant.   

Contrived device
Perhaps the best news is that since changing tubeless tires is suddenly (and for the first time) easy I’m less inclined to skip a ride because I don’t want the hassle of swapping tires or go on a ride with inappropriate tires because I am too lazy to swap.

I’ve used this on about a dozen tires and it has worked perfectly on road tires, 40mm gravel monsters and 29er mountain bike tires.   It is small enough that it lives in the back of my car so it travels wherever I do.   

There are two paths forward here.  First you can carry on and spend your money on spilled sealant, CO2 cartridges and gas used driving to use a compressor and then throw up your hands and buy one of these.  Or you can just order one and be done with it and spend the money you would have wasted on sealant, gas and CO2 on more tires.

Highly recommended.  Five out of five Evos!!!

Is this Iowa?

Circumstances provided a late season window for some west side gravel riding.   Seven of us who sport the black and orange carpooled our way to the hinterland known as Carnation where we unloaded bikes and braced for what would start out as a cold ride in the lowland fog of the Snoqualmie Valley.
KB Ready to roll
After an all-too-brief warm up on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail we turned east and headed into the forest on gravel roads.  Our collective gravel equipment has gotten better as time goes on. Gone are the days of dodgy descents on 32mm Cyclocross tires. Our bike handling skills are also better both from the improved equipment and from increased experience.  Thus we were moving quickly despite the loose surface on a long false flat as we went deeper and deeper into the dense, damp forest.
Rounding a corner the grade kicked up and the surface degraded to wet, loose marbles.  Our chatty group went silent as we all focused on applying power and finding the best line up the steep slippery grade.  El Chefe’ shouted “left”, “straight” or “right” as we approached road intersections.  Momentum was everything and we did all we could to avoid stopping.
Curiously the mix of riders at the front and off the back rotated almost randomly and we regrouped often.  KB was at the back, then off the front.  It seemed we all took turns at both ends of the peloton.  As we passed through a clear cut the sunshine warmed our bodies and we rejoiced.  Our elevation and the morning temperatures were on the rise and it was finally time to shed layers.   Sombrero commented he was happy with his tire pressure choices.  Welcome Rich, welcome.
A long descent spilled out onto a particularly rough area of crushed rock and El Jefe’ showed his leadership and took the flat for the team.  Despite an appropriate amount of sealant his tire refused to seal so we put in a tube and continued.  Chilled from the stop we put in some good efforts to finish the climb.
Soon we were at the Cima Coppi and began a long super gradual descent on a gravel road with good lines in the vehicle tire tracks.  I felt like Spartacus as we flew along.  Despite the rough surface thanks to our fat tires we were in control and laying down the power. My heart rate was right where I wanted it to be and it felt good to push it a bit.  I traded pulls with KB and El Chefe’.
The road seemed to alternate between flat and 1% downhill portions. It was the perfect road to rip on.  El Jefe’ and The Judge went into their own speed vortex off the front. We regrouped and when we rounded a corner we were nearly seven abreast as the view opened up.  I called for a photo stop and we took it all in. 
On the one hand it was a true Washington viewpoint.  Stumps and clear cuts as far as the eye could see.  But the sunshine brought out the changing colors and the greens looked equally powerful on the mountains all around us making the vista beautiful as well.  
It was warming up and I believe everyone felt good.   After some more gravel we came to the gate that marked the end of this segment.  We paused and regrouped.  The ride was so much fun we were giddy.
A mile or so of pavement brought us onto the Snoqualmie Valley Trail, which is a rehabilitated rail line and we sailed along under a thick canopy of green. 
Dry leaves and gravel crunched under our tires.  I hung with The Cheetah, who was celebrating a birthday this day. 
There was Cyclocross racing elsewhere this day but increasingly we find ourselves less motivated by podiums and more interested in spreading our suffering out over several hours with friends.  The idea of cramming all of that pain into a forty-five minute torture session just doesn’t sound as fun as it once did.

We are lucky men to have gravel, friends, good bikes, sunshine and mild temperatures in mid-October.