Downhill and Dirty in the Desert

Written by Neal Poland on . Posted in Bicycle Racing, Mountain Biking, Washington No Comments

 

 

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I spent enough years drinking cheap booze and “attending” classes at Eastern Washington University to be called “Doctor.”

During that time, I enjoyed the awesome and flowy trails offered by the dry side of Washington.

For anyone new to the area, most of Washington state lies east of the Cascade mountains where it rains little more than it does in Arizona. Thus, lots of fast and fun desert off road riding. One of the pinnacles of the early mountain bike racing season is the Hubapalooza downhill race and the People’s Enduro, the first stop on the All Gravity race series.

The trails are located at Beacon Hill/Camp Sekani park. This year’s event offers free camping for registered riders in the Camp Sekani parking lot. In addition to downhill and enduro racing, there is a fun night ride for registered riders and a jam session for dirt jumping enthusiasts.

If you’re looking to get out of the rain and clouds, come on out for some dusty fun.

I will be racing the enduro on Sunday, but I’ll be hanging out at Camp Sekani sampling the offerings of Evanson Handcrafted Distilling all weekend.

Come on out for fun in the sun!

Neal

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Fear of the Dark: Serfas TSL-1800 Trail Light Review

Written by Neal Poland on . Posted in Accessories, Bicycle, Gear, Reviews, Uncategorized No Comments

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If you have a day job like most people do, chances are, your only time to ride during the work week is either during the morning before dragging your ass to the office, or after work when you’re free from the evil talons of corporate America.

In either case, a good set of trail lights are in order to make sure you make it out of the woods alive. They’re also a good addition to the road bike if you ride in rural areas with little or no artificial light.

On top of being a cheap ass, I also have terrible night vision. I’m the guy who gets up to piss in the middle of the night and ends up busting his head open on the door frame–true story.

So, when shopping for trail lights, I spent hours scouring the interwebs, innerwebs, outerwebs and spider webs reading reviews on sub-$200 light sets.

After changing my mind approximately 235,000 times, I settled on the Serfas TSL-1800, which happened to be on clearance at my semi-local bike superstore BikeTiresDirect.com for half-price.

Total out the door price: $160.

I’ve always had decent luck with Serfas products, and the TSL-1800’s build quality did not disappoint.

The lights come in a sweet looking semi-rigid case containing lights, wall charger with 3 feet of power cable, battery pack, as well as mounts for your helmet and handlebars. In all honesty, at a little over 1lb. weight I think these are a bit too bulky to mount on your helmet, but hey,  they’re your neck muscles.

Do whatchoo like.

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The Serfas TSL-1800 features four LED bulbs that cast a light whiter than Napolean Dynamite with his shirt off. Which is nice and bright, but makes the shadows somewhat flat looking. The big push button control lies smack in the middle of light and is easy to operate with gloved hands. The handlbar mount is made from mostly thick plastic, with metal where it counts. Rubber pads on the under side of the mount help isolate the lights from vibration and movement. The power cable that plugs the light into the metal encased battery pack is long enough to give you slack to turn the bars a full 90 degrees in each direction, but not so long you’ll need Banksy-like creativity to route the excess so it doesn’t interfere with your ride. Speaking of the battery pack, Serfas put enough thought into the design with it’s cloverleaf shaped lithium ion enclosure, that it nestles nicely against frame tubes due to the curved shapes between the 4 batteries themselves. Coupled with the thick Velcro strap to fasten it down, I can honestly say that I’ve eaten shit a number of times with this setup strapped to my top tube and it hasn’t worked loose yet.

Serfas specs the run times as follows: Overdrive – 1800 Lumens – 1 hours 45 minutes, High - 1300 Lumens – 2 hours 25 minutes, Standard – 800 Lumens – 4 hours, Low – 450 Lumens – 7 hours with a charge time of 4 hours.

In my experience, the run times on the Overdrive and High settings are conservative. I’ve run in Overdrive mode  a number of times for over 2 hours without any issues or concerns. Since I’m fucking blind, I have yet to make much use of the lower power settings.

At full MSRP of $325, the Serfas TSL-1800 is a decent deal. But if you can score a set for less than that, these are a solid buy and have quickly become an essential piece of equipment that gets used regularly in my bike stable in all kinds of weather.

So far, these things have worked flawlessly. But if you should break part of the set, or if the mounts or straps wear out, Serfas does offer replacement parts.

My only “complaint,” if you can call it that, is even with built in the heat sinks, the body of the light gets pretty damn hot after running full bore for a couple of hours. But now I’m just getting nitpicky.

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Reach for the Dream.

Written by Ryan on . Posted in Bike Porn No Comments

Not all custom bikes are pretty. We hope that there is a function that won out over form, but unfortunately that isn’t always the case. In the fine examples below, we have some people’s dream bikes. Where function met form perfectly. Like in a dream…

Though I was a bit confused when I first received information about this project, from what I gather there are a number of creative minds at work to offer beautiful bicycles and sundries for purchase. These will elevate your status to at or above knee level on Kanye West. In fact, you can let Kanye and Manual for Speed guide you through your dreams in their little bike building guide HERE.

And those really are some beautiful bikes by Argonaut and Speedvagen.

So there you go. In short time, you’ll be feeling like this.

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And you can be whisked away to buy some super limited quantity collaborations on MFS HERE

 

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Stolen in Seattle

Written by Ryan on . Posted in Seattle, Stolen, Washington 1 Comment

I hate getting emails like this: 

 I’m sending my sad story to all bike places/people in hopes that I get my ride back. My bike was stolen today. I’m near Queen Anne/Interbay and thought maybe someone might see it go by. It’s an 80’s lugged steel Trek road bike with special custom powder coat, sparkle orange.
Thank you friendly local bike blog!!!
Betsy
206-380-4550 

 

More info from Betsy:

1987 Trek 400 Elance 50 cm-ish (I don’t know the exact size, but right around 50)
Powder Coated Orange Sparkle
7 speed bar end shifters 105 group
Sugino crank set triple

I know of at least a handful of bikes recovered through posting to the blog and social media and then concerned citizens keeping an eye out and being vigilant- so this is hopes of good results.

Death to bike thieves.

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Seattle Bike Show 2015

Written by Neal Poland on . Posted in Bicycle, Bike Porn, Events, Seattle No Comments

The Seattle Bike Expo is no longer. Thankfully, Cascadia Events picked up the ball and created the Seattle Bike Show for 2015. The event will take place Feb. 28th & March 1st at Century Link. This year’s events feature speakers such as the one and only “Bobke” Bob Roll, local celeb and mountain bike coach Kat Sweet, and of course, trials rider and yogi from the north, Ryan Leech.

This year’s shindig will feature a pump track for adults, and what appears to be a zipline. Your $10 ticket also gains you access to the Washington Travel, Trips and Adventures expo, featuring cool outdoor gear and local outdoor trip planning and advice.

Hope to see you there!

Sat. February 28th 10:00Am–5:00PM

Sun. March 1st 10:00AM–4:00PM

Adults $10

Kids 17 and Under FREE

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Everyone’s Drinking Fireball and Other Irresponsible Liquor

Written by Neal Poland on . Posted in Events, Seattle, Uncategorized, Washington No Comments

photoYesterday,  Feb. 22, was the “official opener” of cycling season in Seattle. That means two things: Cascade Bicycle Club’s annual Chilly Hilly  30 mile group ride around Bainbridge Island, and the cheaper, funner alternative ride: .83’s F—ing Hills Race (FHR).

The FHR is always held on the same day, on the same course and at the same time as the Chilly Hilly. In contrast to Cascade’s paid entry fees and manned rest stops, the FHR is free to enter (but you have to pay for your own ferry boat ticket, 9 bucks) and is fully self supported and features copious amounts of beer, liquor and other things that are legal here in Washington State, but still federally blacklisted. There are also prizes and priceless shenanigans.

After riding my first FHR a couple of years ago, I decided that this ride was more fun, and cheaper.

And they feed you at the end of the ride.

On the Cascade ride, you have to buy your own bowl of chili at the finish line.

Instead of bib numbers, the .83 riders attach small pirate flags to themselves, each other, and small children.

This year’s FHR began as all FHR’s do. Riders gathered on the Seattle waterfront, signed up for the “registration,” and promptly began sipping on cans of Rainier beer and pulling from flasks that were being passed around the group.

At 8 AM.

Once we arrived at the ferry terminal, the Washington State Ferry workers did a good job of segregating the Cascade riders from the .83 riders. They actually loaded us onto opposite sides of the boat. The weather was an unseasonably warm 50 or so American degrees. Perfect for sipping booze and riding bikes.

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On the Cheap Reviews Pt.2.–Rock Out With Your Rock Hawk Out

Written by Neal Poland on . Posted in Bicycle, Bike Parts, Reviews, Seattle No Comments

As a lover of all things two wheeled and pedal powered (a bike-sexual if you will), I’ve been spending more and more time in the dirt than on the road.

Since mountain bikes and mountain bike parts have become increasingly more technologically advanced and expensive over the years, it pays to do your research and get the right parts the first time.

One of the, if not the (IMHO), most important parts on your MTB is a set of tires. After all, tires do a lot of work keeping you upright and shredding when the going gets gnar. With the ever changing trail conditions of the Pacific NW, it’s best to have a few sets of tires laying around the studio apartment for mud, rocks, dry trail, blue groove, snow, and sandy conditions.

Oh, and one set for night racing on Wednesdays.

But, if you’re on a small budget, all those tires add up. Then you can’t pay rent and you’re living in your Subaru.

Even a single set of high end tires can set you back a few hundred smackers.

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Critical equipment: Boot dryers

Written by Ryan on . Posted in Bicycle, Gear, Reviews 2 Comments

There are many places in the world that have no need for them but where I call home, boot dryers are critical for comfort and arguably- safety. A child of the Northwest- I wasn’t fully prepared for the amount of precipitation that I would be living with in Cordova. With over 148 inches of rainfall each year- if you go outside much you’re going to get wet.

The importance of quality outdoor gear is paramount when living in the rainforest. Even then, more preparation is crucial. Our average temperature range throughout the year is a 38° low and a 48º high: prime temperature range for hypothermia. It can be difficult to ensure that you end your ride with dry gear, but you can be prepared and least start with dry feet and hands.

Drying shoes can be done a number of ways. The lowest tech of which involves just leaving them sit in a warm, dry place. This doesn’t necessarily work well if you have to head back out in a couple hours, even the next day. Loosely stuffing the shoes with newspaper does help absorb the water, speeding up the process a bit. Though I’m sure some have done it- I would not suggest putting your shoes in the oven or dryer. Because they aren’t shrinky dinks, they shouldn’t be in the oven as the plastic and rubber could melt. Also- if you have fancy shoes with real leather, the higher temp isn’t good for them. You’ll end up baking them, which can cause cracking. I’ve dried my sneakers in the dryer and that works fine, but cycling shoe soles are much harder, and if you run clipless- you’ve got a metal chunk in there potentially messing things up.

So be a grown up- get a boot dryer. I’ve had one of mine for nearly 15 years and it still works wonderfully.

We have two different model dryers in our house and I’ll compare them here:

FullSizeRenderOriginal Peet Dryer MSRP $49.99

This was my first dryer. The tubes are long enough to fit rubber boots, and you can get extensions that will allow waders. There is no fan, so it relies on science. Through convection, the warm air rises and pushes moisture out of the opening of the boot. Super mellow heat, it’s safe for all your shoes- and effective. Also check out their other models- some with multiple drying tubes and for drying things like your water bladder, which can get pretty gross.

It’s made in the USA and will last a long time. It comes with a 25year warranty. With no moving parts and a lower cost- if you are looking for something that will just work- this is your best bet.

This dryer doesn’t have a switch- if it’s plugged in it’s on. Not a huge deal as it only uses 36W and is totally silent.

 

 

 

 

 

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