Twenty Dolla Make You Holla

Written by Neal Poland on . Posted in Bicycle, Bike Camping, Rides, Washington No Comments

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Middle Fork Road just outside of North Bend, WA has been under construction in some form since dinosaurs roamed the earth. However, a series of small landslides washed out sizable sections of the road leading to some of the Seattle area’s best  hiking and camping, rendering the road impassable to any  motor vehicles short of Bigfoot V. While that sucks for those who insist on travelling by car, it’s a boon for those of us who don’t mind powering our own adventures.

I recently heard about Goldmyer Hot Springs, which is a 20 mile trek up what’s left of the Middle Fork Road to an old mining camp featuring a volcanic spring that spews hot water out of the side of a mountain like a college freshman who’s bonged one too many Peebers. At some point, someone decided to corral this spewing flow and create a couple of small jacuzzi tubs and a grotto carved into an old mine shaft…heh heh…shaft. Thus, creating the Goldmyer Hot Springs “resort.”

It is highly recommended that you call and make reservations at Goldmyer, as they only allow 20 people per day to pass through the area. There’s no just “popping in” to take a peek.

Entry to the hot springs is $15. Oddly, it’s only another $5 to spend the night in one of a handful of unique campsites. I’m bad at math, but I think there are roughly 10 sites to choose from, each with its own flavah. I chose site #1 because it was the easiest to access with my Spinnabago single speed cross bike towing a craigslist BOB trailer.

11154774_10205179267575073_4577988705517924289_oThe ride up was the longest 20 miles of my life. Single speed cyclocross bike with a trailer meant walking and portaging sections I probably could have cleaned on a geared MTB.  Live and learn, I guess. Most of the road is potholed gravel. Only a few sections are truly washed out, but probably doable on a more off-road oriented bicycle.

But not having to worry about a single car was peaceful and fantastic!

Once I got just a few miles away from the newly “improved” Mailbox Peak trailhead area, I only saw a couple of mountain bikers and one or two errant hikers the entire trip.

There is no water on the road up or at Goldmyer, so be sure to bring filtration equipment. I carry a Lifestraw with me and designate an old water bottle to crappy water duty so I don’t have to carry extra water with me all the time. Since this trip parallels the middle fork of the Snoqualmie river most of the way, stopping to refill on unfiltered water is never a problem. The river also cuts through the campgrounds at Goldmyer, so that’s handy, too. I also brought along a 96 oz Nalgene collapsible bottle to reduce the number of trips to the river once at camp.

When you “check in” with the caretakers at Goldmyer, you get your choice of a couple of sizes of bear canisters to choose from. I guess that’s what the extra 5 bucks is for. The campsites are first come first served. Since the road access is pretty much nonexistent, you should probably have your pick of the bunch. Each campsite has its own unique features, as well  as a simple line and pulley system to hang your bear can. Most have old mining equipment biodegrading away, which I thought was pretty cool. The “resort” features the nicest outhouse I’ve ever seen. It’s clean and heated with gas (no pun intended). The caretakers provide TP, Glade poop smell camouflage spray and hand sanitizer.

Glass bottles and campfires are not allowed at Goldmyer. However, you can cook on a camp stove at your campsite. I brought along my trusty $30 Esbit solid fuel stove, which works great for solo trips.  No alcohol or weed is allowed at the hot springs themselves, but you can drink at your campsite so long as things don’t get out of hand. Basically, don’t be a dick, and you should be fine.

Speaking of dicks, Goldmyer is classified as a “clothing optional” place of relaxation, so just be aware of that.

If you make a trip to Goldmyer and enjoy yourself so much that you want to stay, they are looking for caretakers for a 4 month summer stint. You are afforded a cool cabin to live in, complete with satellite TV and interwebs and a stipend to help pay for your real world bills.

11164877_10205179267095061_1781251600744071379_oGoldmyer Hot Springs

206.789.5631

Reservation Rules and Policies

 

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Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail

Written by Neal Poland on . Posted in Portland, Rides, Road No Comments

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I spend much of my off time volunteering with a local non-profit, working with people disabilities to help get them active in the outdoors. Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to be able to tag along for a ride with the Wounded Warrior Project down in Oregon in exchange for my homegrown “mechanical” skills.

We took a drive a 4 hour drive to scenic Hood River, which would serve as our basecamp for the weekend. While Hood River has long been known as a mecca for windsurfing and kite boarding, it’s also home to some fantastic mountain biking and road cycling.

And breweries.

Lots and lots of breweries. Of you like adult beverages, Hood River will not disappoint.

The Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail is an actual old highway that runs parallel to the current highway 84/ Oregon 30 along the banks of the mighty Columbia river like a watery Mason-Dixon line separating the states of Washington and Oregon so they don’t battle it out for Pacific NW supremacy. The complete route, which includes sections where you ride along the highway shoulder as well as fully protected sections, runs the distance between Troutdale and the Dalles.  Total distance is just over 80 miles each way.

For this particular ride, we stuck to the sections of the trail that were fully protected, for safety sake.

The trail runs along a ridge line high above the current highway, so you get great views and very little road noise. 13 or so miles are completely closed to motorized vehicles, giving riders a chance to ride at their own pace and stop when they want for photos.

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Along the way are numerous parks to rest or camp at, as well as plenty of things to see. The Bonneville Dam is on the route, as is the Bridge of the Gods  and one of the PCT trail heads (for you “Wild” enthusiasts).

Even though over 300,000 people a day use this trail, the path never seemed congested, and is very family friendly. The parking at the trailheads, however, paint a different picture, so get there early.

I’m planning a trip for later in the summer where I can experience the 160 mile out and back in its entirety, so stay tuned. I’m just waiting for my brother to get settled into his new place in the Portland area, so I don’t have to pay for parking!

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4th Annual Lake to Lake Bike Ride in Bellevue

Written by Ryan on . Posted in Bicycle, Rides No Comments

I found this in the comments spam folder, which is rarely looked through- so if you have an event you’d like up on the calendar, it’s best to email us.
If you’re in the Bellevue/Seattle area- this could be a fun little ride with a low entry fee and proceeds going to a good cause.

4th Annual Lake to Lake Bike Ride, June 13, 2015

An enjoyable, non-competitive recreational ride for the whole family. Two unique loops; a mostly flat Greenbelt Loop flat 8-mile route; and the Lake Loop which is a more challenging 22-mile route. Routes are about 80% on-road and 20% off-road (gravel). The routes take riders to and through Bellevue’s award winning park system exploring hidden treasures of Bellevue. Benefits the City of Bellevue youth camp scholarship fund.

Entry fees are low.

Participants receive a t-shirt.

Custom socks to the first 150 to register.

Start and finish, Lake Hills Community Park 1200-164th Avenue SE, Bellevue, WA 98007 Ages 8 and up.

Volunteers are needed.

 

More info at

http://bellevuewa.gov/lake-to-lake-bike-ride.htm

 

Ages 8 +, Under 8 must be in a tag a long or trailer

Entry fee
Pre register $15.00, day of event if space is available, $20

To register go to http://parksreg.bellevuewa.gov/ activity code 95182

For more information: bikeride@bellevuewa.gov

Day of event registration opens at 8:00 am
First riders depart at 9:00 am

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On the Cheap– (Don’t?) Try This At Home: Rockshox Coil to Air Fork Conversion

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

Full and utterly not shocking disclaimer: The advice in the forthcoming article WILL (not maybe, probably or might) void any SRAM/RockShox factory warranty on your fork. If you’re not comfortable reading service manuals and/or if the thought of beating your forks with a mallet makes you ill, don’t try this at home. If you’re ok with those things, by all means, try this at home.  

I recently purchased some stickers from AHTBM which read, “My Life Is a Cautionary Tale.” Those words echoed in my head as I stood on the deck of my apartment beating the lower legs off my 2014 RockShox XC 32 29er forks. Up until this moment, the forks had another year left on their factory warranty.

Let me back track to explain how a man in his late 30’s gets to the point where he feels the need to take a plastic mallet to a perfectly good suspension fork:

I purchased a squishy bike on clearance from my LBS late last summer. Obviously, a budget bike isn’t going to be spec’d with a high end menu of parts. In the case of the Fuel EX 5, that means a  fantastic Monarch R  air shock in the rear and a coil XC32 fork up front with a 15mm thru axle. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with either of those products on their own, the mix of a tunable air shock on one end and a basically non-tunable coil on the other end makes the bike do sketchy things when the terrain gets sketchy at sketchy speeds.

I’ve been a fan of RockShox products for years, mainly due to their easy maintenance. In the case of the XC32 coil, there is basically no maintenance to be had and changing spring internals to help “tune”  the fork to the rider’s weight is a 10-15 minute process with spring kits running about $25 from my LBS. Changing the firmness of the springs on this fork really does make a significant difference. You can even adjust travel from 100–120mm by adding or removing the rubber spacers included in the spring kits, which is a nice feature on such a wallet friendly fork.

But I was also aware that RockShox makes a Solo Air version of this fork, which I could purchase for a couple hundy. However… I heard rumors on the ol’ interwebs that any rider worth his blood alcohol level could convert one of these babies for around $70. Since the Solo Air system is a self contained cartridge system, it appeared to be a simple plug and play process as the IT nerds say.  I found out that it really is pretty much plug and play, but with fork oil and hammers involved.

Things you’ll need:

1) A copy of the SRAM/RockShox service manual

2)  A SRAM/RockShox Solo Air cartridge for the XC32 fork (DUH!!). I managed to finagle one from Bikewagon for about $55.

3) A long handled 5mm hex wrench, or in my case, a ratchet with a long extension and 5mm hex attachment. More on tool length to cum.

4) A 2.5mm hex wrench

5) 24mm wrench or socket.  An adjustable Crescent style wrench will do the trick as well since this is just used to remove the top caps from the fork.

6) 15wt fork oil

7) Graduated fork oil syringe with about 5″ of rubber tubing. Brake bleed kits work great for refilling this fork. I tossed my brake bleed kit because I’m an idiot, so I used the body of an old ball point pen to get all up in there.

8) Not a requirement, but I also recommend a seal kit because you’re going to have the whole fork pulled apart anyway, so why not rebuild the whole damn thing, Capt. Halfassington?

9) A bike stand or at least a good bench vise. Remember, you will be beating things off with a mallet, and everyone knows that beating off requires good grip.

10) A rubber tipped or plastic mallet

11) Last, but not least: a drip pan. There won’t be a lot of oil that comes out with this procedure, but you probably don’t want fork oil all over the floor. But if you don’t mind a little floor lube, who am I to judge?

The Plan:

In hindsight, I recommend removing the fork completely from the bike. Just makes shit easier to work on. I kept the fork attached to the bike, so it’s definitely possible to do it, but I think it would have been easier to remove the fork before proceeding.

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California dreamin’.

Written by Ryan on . Posted in Bicycle 1 Comment

Q: Why doesn’t California fall into the ocean?

A: Because there is a wingnut on every corner.

If you’re in SF or LA, there are a couple things coming up that you should check out.

fit-tour Flyer

The Speedvagen crew will be packing up their smart car and headed down the coast in order to solicit orders for new bikes. That starts with getting fitted- just as fitted as Sacha White’s tank top. Then you just fill up their armored truck with deposit money and in approximately 3 months you’ll have a bike that costs just about what the average worldwide median income is. If you have the money and are looking for some one-on-one time in the back of an armored truck, then make an appointment HERE

The dates are as follows.
SF; April 30th – May 3rd
LA: May 4th -7th
In other news- if E-bikes are more your thing and you live in SF or LA, Bosch is setting up 1 month loaner programs in those cities. They’re working with a handful of bike companies and putting little electric assist motors on them. Even Xtracycle is in there. You just email boschsmiles@gmail.com between 4/1 and 4/20 and see how you fare. Go ahead and get grandma that electric bike she’s been wanting so she can race the streets between episodes of All my Children.
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And still in other, sadder news- I’m not going to make it to Sea Otter. Why? Well, life I guess.


Believe it or not, this bike blog thing doesn’t pay the bills.

ANY bills. Like, not even one bill.

It’s a labor of love that is to be put aside if I’m to have food with my meals. It feels like I’ve been working a ton lately, and my legs agree. This week I go back to boat life- putting down my hammer on Thursday and baiting hooks on Friday. It’s the beginning of spring here and things are ramping up for a summer full of long days and longer nights.

Part of what I’m putting aside is my trip to Sea Otter, which I was looking forward to, being it’s 25th year- and an opportunity to ride with friends old and new, camp in the sunshine and see what’s going on in the mountain bike world. Life goes on.

So if you are lucky enough to make it to Sea Otter- hell, even if you don’t- shred hard and drink deep. I’ll be in the Gulf of Alaska up to my elbows in blood- and dreaming of my next time on the bike.

Until next time,

Ryan

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Comes with Baggage

Written by Ryan on . Posted in Bicycle, Events, Gear, Mountain Biking, Travel No Comments

Sea Otter is just around the corner and bike nuts are getting ready to head to Monterey to enjoy some sun, salty air and bicycles in California later this month. Oh- it’s also the 25th anniversary!

Blackburn will be there, along with a number of companies offering ways to get off the beaten path to explore the great outdoors. Blackburn is hosting a debut screening of a moving showcasing the history of bike travel. If you’re there, check it out. I’m sure they’ll also have some of their bikepacking gear around to play with as well.

COMES WITH BAGGAGE FLYER (1)Here’s a little trailer of what you’ll be watching

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Resurrection 8 Alleycat Race 4/4

Written by Tall Bryan on . Posted in Alley Cat Racing, Bicycle Racing, DIY, Events, GO MEANS GO events, Races, Ride Your Bike, Rides, Seattle, Washington No Comments

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Back for the 8th year running the Resurrection Alleycat is this Saturday April 4th. Registration starts at 2:30pm @ Cal Anderson Park. Race starts at 3pm sharp (don’t be late!) Finish and after party at Gaswork Park. Come to ride, come to race, roll the dice and with a little luck this may be your year to be champion…

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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 2 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.

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