Monday, December 26, 2011

Winter bike racing in Sandpoint?

That's right! Winter bike racing is coming to Sandpoint, in the form of Goldsprints.

Demo night is tomorrow at Laughing Dog Brewing at 6pm. Check out the equipment and do a few trial runs against your buddies. 6 race series starts Jan 10th. Oh, and not sure if you wanna race? No worries, just come out and watch the'll change your mind.

For more info, visit the Sandpoint Goldsprints site here

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Pugsley Night Ride

Snowing with a few fresh inches on the ground and I took the Pug on a stroll out to Sagle and back. I guess I was having way too much fun and lost track of time. Came back in the dark. Ended up just making the ride just that much better...I always carry lights.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Pugsley at Schweitzer

I had to take advantage of the fresh snow and took the Pugsley to Schweitzer for a little trail riding. Trails were great, weather was again awesome! If there is any sort of trail through the fresh snow, the Pug will charge through!

Have I mentioned that Pugsley miles seem different than regular bike miles?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Winter Cross Ride

With all this mild weather, I just can't seem to put the cross bike away. Even on hardpack with a little snow, the ride was awesome...although all the sunshine helped too.a view of the path ahead and the path taken...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Get a Grip - GripStuds Install

For those that follow my blog, you might remember an installment last winter where I showed you how to make your own studded tires.  Labeled the "poor man's studded tires," I used sheet metal screws and a spare tube to complete the system.

This time around I'm using a new product at the shop made by GripStuds.  They make individual studs that you can install into almost any bike tire.  Their studs are made from Tungsten Carbide (same stuff they make drill bits out of) and are very durable.  So, if you have a certain tire tread pattern that you like or an extra set of tires laying around, these studs would be a good choice to get your winter riding on.  For my project, I used a set of tires off a Surly Pugsley since no one seems to make a set of studded tires for it.

As with most projects, planning is key.  GripStuds recommends at least 50 studs per tire.  They also recommend that you use a scattered pattern and not just install studs in a straight line.  One last note, studs are best suited on the cross section of the tire (the knobs in between the center of the tire and the very outside or shoulder knobs.  You want your studs to make contact with the ground from several different angles.  With these thoughts in mind, I grabbed a silver marker and started putting a dot on every other cross sectional knob.  My pattern gave me 100 studs per tire...fitting number since the Pug tires are 3.8" wide!
basic tools needed...along with patience

After my knobs were marked, I took a punch and stared a hole for each stud.  Now GripStuds says that pre-holes and drilling are not necessary.  However, with the small size of the knobs on my tire it was imperative that the stud start right in the middle of the knob and not stray off to the side and tear the rubber.

With holes all punched it was time to start installing the studs.  GripStuds makes a handy little installation bit for your drill.  Sweet.  And each little stud has two slots on its shoulder, think slotted screw driver system.  I found the engagement of the stud and tool very positive and easy to use.
stud with installation slots on one side, threads on the other

Patience!!  I cannot stress enough that you must take it slow.  Set your drill on a slow speed and use alternating power to ease the studs in.  I always had to keep an eye on the stud to ensure that it was going down the center of the knob and not veering off course.  Once the stud was set down to its shoulder, I moved on to the next one.

It was super slow, but the finished product looked great!

Note that as opposed to the sheet metal screw install, there is nothing protruding inside the tire casing.  Long wear life, ability to remove/replace studs and shallow penetration make these studs a great choice for your winter tires.  Wanna know more about GripStuds?  Check out their site or hit me up.
no need for a tire liner

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day 2012

I often reflect on my time in the Marine Corps and Veteran's Day is no different.  I served during Desert Storm and was able to see a lot of the world.  Currently my unit is in Iwakuni, Japan, a place I spent I lot of time during my service.  My time in the Marines with the "Bats" helped shape me into what I am today and for that I will always be thankful.  But what does this have to do with biking?

The Surly Black Ops Pug (yeah bear with me).  How can you make the original Pugsley any better, it is already one bad ass, all-terrain rig?  Well, first you black it all out to make it covert.  Then you add even wider rims (82mm) to create a wider tire footprint.  Lastly, you call it "Black Ops," what could be cooler?
Now, I got to play with some cool stuff in the Marines, but we never got to ride around on Surly Black Ops bikes.  Coming to Greasy Fingers December 1st!


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Stripped crank brought back to life

Sometimes when we get a challenging bike related issue at GF, we move our process to a super secret off-site location.  In this relaxed, shop away from the shop, we can relax, brainstorm and figure crap out.  Tonight's mission: repair a BMX crank where the pedal threads had been stripped out.  This steel crank also had a home repair attempt and was filled with some sort of JB Weld.  It was a mess, but these were expensive cranks and presented a challenge we were looking forward too.

Of course the right tools always help and we had a drill press, pedal inserts and a pedal tap.  So, first we started by drilling out the old pedal threads/hole to get a fresh start for taping new threads.  Super, super slow process going through this thick steel...and involved a drill bit sharpening in the middle.

Once drilled out, we had a nice clean interior surface for our tap.  Lots of cutting fluid and patience were key.

Now came the fun!!  Tapping in the new threads was rather easy and felt real good.

Once we removed the tap, our new threads looked amazing!  The sight of some freshly cut threads is always a welcome sight.

We took a 9/16 pedal, greased it's threads and then threaded a new pedal insert onto it.  It was easy and doable by hand.  Once the insert was on the pedal, we put some loctite on our new threads and installed our pedal with insert.  It threaded in like butter on those new threads.

We let the loctite sit over night to cure, removed our pedal and the crank was back in service.  A big thanks to Sierra Nevada, Fast Eddie and Annie for a successful evening of fun and bikes.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Mystery Trail

So, I went out for a little spin on a local trail and rode it uphill...not normally the way most people go.  Great work out!  If you've ridden this trail, you will recognize this section of large roots (or maybe not as my camera sucks and this pic does not do it much justice).
4 of the 5 root steps pictured
There are 5 roots that act as steps going up a rather steep section of trail.  Today, as I started my ride, all I could think of was finally clearing all 5 of these roots.  As a approached the steps I felt almost sick as tried to put myself in the best position possible to tackle them (speed, route, cadence, etc.).  The first 2 were no problem, but then again I always make them.  Over the third much to my surprise and then the forth one....we let's just say the big rock that takes up a portion of the trail at the 4th root is a bitch!

Looks like the challenge will be there next time.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Brush Lake Trail

As you may know, the Pend Oreille Pedalers and the Bonners Ferry Forest Service have been working in conjunction to construct a new mountain bike trail around Brush Lake.  As President of the Pend Oreille Pedalers I am absolutely thrilled with the efforts of the BFFS and outcome thus far on the trail.  Brush Lake is about 20 minutes North of Bonners Ferry and is just a short little jump from the highway.  The lake has docks for fishing, boat launch, camping area and now a cool trail!

With the loop finished, I went up with Larry to give it a ride.  We rode the trail both directions for a total of 13 miles.  What is cool about this trail is the options!  It rides very different depending on what direction you choose.  The terrain is very varied as you wind your way around the lake.  But most interesting is all the stunts, features and short side trails along the way that tug at your sense of adventure.

Now if you are of the downhill, freeride mind then this trail will seem rather tame.  If you head down South or over to the coast there is tons of stuff like this on a much, much grander scale.  Noted.  We are not Whistler or the Northshore.  BUT, for North Idaho where we don't have a lot of trails with features like this, it is a great asset to our list of rides.
several skinnies
rock drops
tight, technical rocks
it's like a playground!
A big thank you to the Bonners Ferry Forest Service and their ability to think outside the box and step outside their comfort zone.  I could not be happier with our collaboration on this trail effort.  The BFFS was a pleasure to work with -- look forward to more trails to come from this relationship.
oh, and a cool creek crossing


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Clifty/Katka Trail #182 Loop

Ahh another fine Fall ride.  Have I mentioned lately how much I love riding in the Fall?

On tap, a big loop ride.  Park at the bottom of the Katka Trail, ride up the road to Black Mountain and the Clifty trailhead where you will begin a sweet ridge top ride followed by a super sweet downhill back to your car.  Don't let the ride up the road fool ya though, it is a grind with plenty of elevation to get you warmed up.

Road ride aside, the Clifty trail is a fun high-elevation ride with several short, steep ups and downs.  There is a short spur trail that takes you up to Clifty proper and is well worth the hike (yeah not much bikable).
spur to Clifty Mountain
After passing Clifty there a couple really nice passes through open meadows as the trail sidehills the ridge to Katka Peak.  Again, at the base of Katka there is a short spur trail to the top of the peak.  Katka is not quite as tall as Clifty and doesn't offer near the view but still a great trip.
Katka Peak uphill or pucker up for the descent back to the car
Once you leave Katka Pass it is one long fun descent.  This downhill is the only time I'm every felt the affects of  my brakes heating up.  As a break, stop and pick off the many huckleberry bushes along the way and let the brakes cool off.
changing colors is one reason I love the Fall
Big work out, amazing views and some really sweet downhill make this one of our top rides.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Kettle Crest (North)

Back to Kettle Crest!  This time I started at the North end of the North Kettle Crest Trail.

I love this trail!  The views, the high country riding, the variety in terrain and challenge make it a top pick for the area.  Oh, and did I mention it is almost 30 miles long with many, many different off shoots?  Such a cool area.

Camera is on the blitz, so only one shot from the cell.  It's hard to give a good write-up without pics...
yeah, Shadow likes the trail too

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

2011 6-Pack Alley Cat Recap

We had over 35 riders show up for this year's 6-Pack Alley Cat Ride.  Registration was an impressive sea of bikes: cruisers, fixies, road bikes, bikes with trailers, trail-a-bikes, mountain bikes...and even one Pugsly.  The weather was awesome and the sun was out in full force.
riders waiting in the shade for the start
After we got everyone logged in at the shop we headed down the street to Farmin Park for the manifests and start.  The riders had 5 minutes to study their manifest with checkpoints, plot their order and plan their route.  It was interesting to see the different approaches.  One group of ladies didn't leave for another 5 minutes after the start as they were strategizing and planning.
riders studying their manifests
3 of the checkpoints were manned and the riders had to perform tasks.  The other 3 checkpoints were unmanned and required riders to obtain some information to prove they were there.  All the checkpoints highlighted this year's theme of "pay it forward...cause giving is fun"  and recognized a person in the community that has also given.

All but 2 riders (prior injuries) made it to the finish.  We had a little blood and some tired faces, but everyone was happy.  The last checkpoint was at Trinity and riders had a choice of slamming a PBR or doing 20 push-ups...most all choose the beer.  Go figure.
these gals choose to add to their workout
Engraved beer glasses were awarded to top finishers in road, mountain bike and single speed categories.

And yes we even had some prizes for the DFLs...a compass and map of Sandpoint.
one of the DFLs...hope she wasn't hiding her face on purpose
Thanks to our sponsors who generously gave and ensured such a successful event: Trinity at City Beach, Pita Pit, The Loading Dock, Laughing Dog, Monarch Mountain Coffee, Pend d'Oreille Winery and Eichardt's Pub and Grill.  The swag was amazing!!

In the end, it was about raising money and food for the Food Bank...mission accomplished!!  We donated over 100lbs in food and a check for $200.  Thanks to all that participated and we'll see you at next year's Alley Cat with a new adventure.

Friday, July 1, 2011

2011 6-Pack Alley Cat Bike Ride

Here we are, year 2 for the Alley Cat.  Below is the event flyer and below that is an online reg form...use it or just show up day of with $15 buck and bike in hand.  See you there!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Leave for RAAM in 1 Week!!

For those that don't know, I volunteered to be the bike mechanic for Team Laughing Dog (TLD) and their quest to compete in the Race Across America (RAAM).  It has been a year of planning, training, more planning, stratagizing, more planning, some beer drinking (we are sponsored by Fred after all), more get the point.  At this point, I'm ready to do this!!
Today our 2 support vans pulled out of Sandpoint for a road trip down to Oceanside, CA which is the starting line for the race on June 18th.  Over the next week the riders and crew will have bike inspections, van inspections, crew meetings, rider meetings, crew chief meetings...have I mentioned how much I love to plan...all in preparation for the big day.

As for me I'm heading down to join the rest of my crew next Thursday.  I will be out of the shop from June 16-28th.  A couple things to note: Greasy Fingers Bikes N Repair will march on with Jane, Dave and Kevin (and Shadow) picking up the slack while I'm gone.  Feel free to harass them a bit.  While I'm on the road, you can track the team's progress on our TLD website (we will be projecting gps updates every 10 mins), Jane will be updating a big route map daily in the shop and I will be providing personal musings on the GF Facebook ...when I'm not wrenching bikes or trying to get some sleep.

Oh, and a couple more links.  More about the race across america and the whole reason we are doing this crazy shit, to raise money for autism.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Moscow Mountain

Day 2 of our search for warmer weather took us to Moscow Mountain.  This trail system has a few entrances.  We entered off Lewis Road, just North of Moscow.

A little background on Moscow Mountain.  All the trails are on private property.  The trails were built by MAMBA, the local bike club.  The land owners don't want the trails publicized or marked.  Any of this sound familiar.  So how do you find your way around?  MAMBA has taken an interesting approach and put all the trails on their club website.  To access full details on the trails, you have to pay $15 and become a MAMBA member.  As for me, I like to know where I am going, so I paid my dues.

All this sounds good in theory, but the maps you gain access to on the MAMBA site are not topo maps with elevation lines, contours or geographical features.  They are characture maps or artistic impressions.  In addition, you can't print off a nice full-size map like you would get from a store, but things look real good on the computer screen.  Hmmm.  I printed off 3-4 pages of trails and away I went.

I started on the Headwater Trail with the intent of working my way over to the other side of the park.  I'd like to tell you what trails I did after Headwater, but I have little idea.  Besides for some "non-motorized" trail signs on Headwater (see pic below), none of the other trails had signs.  I wandered around for 3 1/2 hours and eventually did make it to the other side of the park where I met Nick.
one of the many trail intersections I contemplated
Nick, bless him, offered to show me around the mountain.  He stated that he rode the mountain all the time and was very active in the local bike club.  Good news for me.  We chatted and rode around for another hour as he showed me some of his favorite loops.  After which, we were both tired and ready to call it quits.  When you don't have to contemplate every turn, things are much more enjoyable.

I found the trails on Moscow Mountain to be very buff and well maintained.  The flow of many of the trails lends to the fact that they were build with mountain biking in mind.  There are lots of trails and miles of trails in the network, so the amount of various loops and routs are endless.

For me, I found Moscow Mountain to be like most bike parks/trail networks I've been too...think Syringa, Beacon Hill, Farraguat or Riverside State Park.  Trails are awesome, but somewhat short.  Linking is always fun, if you can find your way.  Many parks seem to have a hard time mapping their areas with all the pirated trails that seem to arise.  With trails/roads heading in all directions, with little signage and with very basic mapping, navigation can be a challenge.  Bike park maps become what looks like a big plate of spaghetti.  For locals that have spent the time memorizing their way, it is no doubt a valuable asset.

In conclusion, the Asotin Creek Trail and Moscow Mountain, taken in combination, made the trip down south well worth it.  After all, it is only 2 hours to the trailhead.  As for the $15 membership and access to the MAMBA website...that money might be better served on a 12-pack to con a local into showing you around the mountain.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Asotin Creek Trail

I know there hasn't been much activity on the Bike Buzz...noteworthy riding has been a little slow given the weather.  For Memorial Day weekend though, we decided to head to warmer temps down South.  We camped at Hells Gate in Lewiston as our jumping off point.

First on the list of rides was the Asotin Creek Trail.  This trail is easy to find as you turn on Asotin Creek Road, right before you enter the town of Asotin, just South of Clarkston.  For the geographically impared, that is across the Snake from Lewsiton and Hell's Gate.  This is a dandy of a trail, with some amazing views of open meadows and rock formations.  In addition, the trail follows Asotin Creek (are getting the parallels yet?).
You start with a creek crossing which I choose to wade across.  It was cool, but refreshing.  Once you're in the saddle, it is a steady climb along the creek.  The trail is not very technical or punishing.  All good for me as early season condition has been, well...too much beer and not enough riding.
After the seven miles of main trail, there are several jump off points to other trails.  I continued up the main creek trail for another couple miles and then turned around for a screaming downhill!

This was a good ride.  Most note worthy were the tan bear I ran into on the way down.  I almost went over the bars trying to stop.  He was even more scared of me, so the encounter was very brief.  I also saw some wild turkeys, a mountain goat and a massive hawk...none of which I got a pic of.  It was a good day!
If you are in the area, this is a good trail to add to your list.  I wouldn't say it is a destination trail however....maybe if you added some of the other trails in the region.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bike Swap Tomorrow

Reminder: Bike Week starts tomorrow with the Bike Swap at SWAC (on Pine, across from Traver's Park).

If you are selling items, check in is between 9-11am.  20% of the gross sales goes to the Pend Oreille Pedalers.  There will be people there to assist with pricing your item if you need.

If you just want to buy, the swap is between 1-3pm.  There is no cost to get in.  The good stuff goes early, so plan accordingly.

If you dropped off stuff to sell, you can return between 3:30-4:30 to either retrieve your items if they did not sell or pick up your money if they did.  You can also elect to have a check sent to you.

That's the timeline for the day.  Hope to see you there...I'll be the one running around franticly.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sandpoint Bike Week 2011

Looks like Summer is coming after all and so is Sandpoint Bike Week.  There are many different ways to participate.  Here is a run down:

·          Sunday, May 15: Bike Swap:  1 to 3 p.m. at Sandpoint West Athletic Club. Trade, shop, consult with mechanics, learn bike safety and much more! As with all swaps, the best deals are had early. Drop off your gear to sell that morning, 9 to 11 a.m.

·          Wednesday, May 18: Bike to School Day and Bike to Work Day: Don your helmet and ride your bike to school or work. Stop by one of four aid stations to pick up free goodies, and enter a free raffle to win great prizes, to be awarded at the Panida Theater Friday night. Grand prizes are a new wheel-set for adults and a $50 gift certificate to a local bike shop for kids. All students who ride their bikes to school will get a prize. Aid stations will be located at Mountain West Bank (Highway 2 and Division), Outdoor Experience (First Avenue), Evans Brothers Coffee (524 Church St Ste B. at the old granary along the bike path) and Sandpoint Sports (Highway 95 in Ponderay).  Aid stations are open from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Bike Week T-shirts will be for sale for $10.

·         Wednesday, May 18: Ride of Silence: 6 p.m. Meet at City Beach Park.   Join other cyclists in a silent slow-paced ride in honor of those who have been injured or killed while cycling on public roadways. The ride is part of a worldwide share-the-road campaign. Route is fewer than 10 miles. Must wear a helmet. All bikes welcome.

·         Saturday, May 21: “Ride the Divide”: Movie at the Panida Theater.  Free admission. Doors open at 6:30 and movie at 7:30 p.m.  The film follows the experiences of three bikers as they race 2,700 miles with over 200,000 feet of climbing from Banff, Canada, to a small, dusty crossing on the Mexican border along the Continental Divide Trail.  Dominos pizza, Laughing Dog beer and Pend d’Oreille wine available for sale. Raffle prizes to be awarded immediately following the movie (need not be present to win).

      If you have any questions, email me...I have some insider knowledge.  You can also hit up  Hope to see you out there!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Rider Goes Down

I was out with Team Laughing Dog yesterday for a training ride in preparation for the RAAM race this June.  We practiced some exchanges and everything went really well, until we called it quits and started heading back to one of the rider's house to debrief.  Crossing the railroad track on Great Northern, Mel's front wheel slipped into the crack between the road and the track and he went down hard.  A trip to the ER and a few hours waiting came the news that he probably is not going to be able to compete in RAAM this year.

This isn't a post intended to make you go "ahh" and get all sad.  If anyone can bounce back from this, it's Mel.  He has been a driving for Team Laughing Dog's efforts to do RAAM this year.  And he has spearheaded the teams' efforts to raise money and awareness for autism.  All this and he still finds time to promote cycling within our community also.

So, while you are out riding keep Mel in your thoughts and prayers.

Oh, and what kind of race mechanic would I be if I didn't report on the condition of his bike.  Amazingly, Mel took the worst of it in this accident.  I ran through it and the bike is fine and I'm sure he'll be on it soon again.
Please remember to try and take railroad tracks straight on/perpendicular as much as possible.  Go slow and realize that a little moisture can make those steel rails like ice.  This accident could have happened to anyone.  So be safe!
big gap!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Thanks to my peeps

So, as I came to the the shop this morning to get ready for the grand opening festivities, I thought I should give some shouts outs.  There have been so many people that have given of their time and/or materials to make the new bike shop happen.  I'm sure none of the following did it for public acknowledgement, but hey I'm gonna do it anyway...

First thing you'll see when you walk in is the impressive oak bar with old pumps, thanks to Mike Murray for all his woodworking.
Then there is the store logo and bike artwork on the walls, Al Lemire let his creative juices flow. 
A friend, that wishes to remain anonymous, spend several weekends helping make the 2 work benches in the repair area.  Glued, screwed and clamped they will be around for a very long time.

Signs, stickers, business cards and the banner were all designed and done by Carl at Kodiak Advertising.  He did an amazing job of bringing my concepts to life.
Jane, the best GF ever, spent a week straight painting and finishing the inside before we started setting up.  Store colors of black and orange continue on the inside.

Jim Marley steeped up big and donated a bike rack for outside and also build a desk to hold all my paperwork.

Lastly, Jake Ostman did a sweet job of setting up our website 

In the end, I feel blessed to have so many people willing to con tribute to this bike shop.  I'm sure I have missed some people, but thanks to all!!  OK, enough mussy, mussy...let's get to working on bikes!