Friday, December 24, 2010

Winter Riding on Holiday Streets

We got our first decent snowstorm of the season (Decent in my mind meaning 4 or more inches of snow.) on Wednesday night on into Thursday. I was one of the few crazies on his bike out playing in the snow:
That elusive arctic snow snake is back.

However, it is Flagstaff, and with snow comes... well... typical Flagstaff weather. By today, a lot of it had melted off. I decided it was a good idea to ride Bi out to meet up with family for dinner, when I saw one of the coolest light and cloud shows over Mt. Elden.

You don't see something like that every day... I wonder what that looked like from space?

After dinner, I rode home via the airport, though not from the place where dinner was. (It's sort of a long story.) It was truly a nice ride. It wasn't too cold, just cool enough to make me work to keep warm, but not cold enough to ice up the roads. Cars were out there, but scarce. By the time I got home, I felt like I could have easily kept going, all night if I wanted to.

Tomorrow, the roads ought to be nearly empty.

I'm looking forward to that.

Mileage: 20.4

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Riding around

So while I wait for the Tron: Legacy soundtrack to download, and while I can't sleep, I figure I'll catch up on my neglected bloggery.

I've been taking advantage of the warm-ish weather since our first little snowstorm of the season, and going on some post-work rides. I've put some miles on Henry, sine Bi's got the really heavy studded tires on, which are rumbly and heavy. Where have I gone?

Agassiz Peak basking in the last rays of sunshine, peeking out from behind Andersen Mesa.

Lake Mary.

Lake Mary.

Contrast: Snowball in a still-sorta-green field.

The Peaks from the Naval Observatory road.

Henry and I decided to go ice-skating out at Fort Tuthill.

I leave you with yesterday's sunset.

Mileage: 4.2

Friday, November 12, 2010


Dreading the cold. We've all been there.

Alex put it best this evening, as I was putting off heading home from TC's. He said it's only getting colder.

So I bundled up. Slowly. Two pairs of socks because I didn't pack toe warmers. I lingered. Played with Zoe. And finally wheeled out the door.

I'm hit with a blast of cold, square in the face. Take off the rockin' gloves to turn on the lights. They're already cold by the time I put them back on, 10 seconds later.

It is going to be a long ride home.

Crank up Switzer and spin to Beaver Street. Roll downtown. See the crossing arms drop for an approaching train and turn right on 66. Gotta keep moving to stay warm.

My face is freezing. My fingers are chilly. My feet are cold. I follow 66 up the hill, past the car dealerships. I turn left on Woodlands. Down the hill, backpedaling to regulate speed.

I'm not as cold. My fingers are warm, my toes aren't that cold, and my arms are borderline sweating. Even my face isn't half bad.

Amazing how just a few hours earlier, my toes were in pain from the cold, and my fingers were chilled enough to restrict their movement.

Coming up on Lake Mary Road, and a decision is made. I roll straight, following 89 out to the fairgrounds. "What the heck." I think.

The cars are less frequent this way at 11:30 at night. I'm sure the few that pass me are thinking about just how cold I am, and happy that they're sitting in nice warm cars.

They don't realize just how warm I am now, as I crank up and down the rolling hills. The cold is no longer dreaded. It is enjoyed, embraced. It fuels my ride.

I find myself too soon on Pulliam, aimed at home. I look up at the stars, and veer into the oncoming lane. No matter, there are no cars here now.

On the urban trail through High Country. My face is cold again. The high is wearing off. The cold is creeping back, reminding me that it is indeed Winter. Almost.

Roll to the door. Go inside, where my glasses instantly fog. Curiosity begs to know how cold it was... A balmy 22 degrees.

Yes, it was a long ride home, though not the way I was afraid it would be.
Mileage: 25

Monday, November 8, 2010

What a bunch of studs.

The question I get asked most often when I say I ride my bike all winter, no matter the weather, is surprisingly not, "Wow, how do you stay warm?"

No, people are more interested about whether or not I make my own studded tires.

This will be my something'th winter with bicycles as my primary mode of transit, and my third with studded tires on my commuter bike, Bi. The last two years I ran a pair of Innova studded tires. Nothing fancy, I needed studded tires, and they were affordable, as well as the only thing Absolute had on the shelf for a 29'er. But, with regular steel studs, not carbide, the studs wore down after two seasons, leaving me with two perfectly good tire casings, with worn down nubs of metal embedded in the tread.

They still work... a little.

Well, this year, I considered my options for the winter riding season. I could shell out some money for longer lasting carbide studded tires, (Starting at ~$60 per tire.) or, I could buy carbide studs to replace the worn down ones in the existing tires. (Also about $60 per tire.)

Studs be expensive, yo.

I ultimately decided on neither of these, and spent $15 dollars on three hundred #6 x 3/8" sheetmetal screws. Yes, this may be a little overkill, since each tire needs 114 studs.

The plan was to rip all the old studs out of the little tread pocket they are embedded in, and jam the heads of the screws in their place. Easy enough. So, I set to work, using a quick clamp (To squish the tire and make the tread release the studs easier) and the can opener on my Leathermans. (to get under the stud and pry it out.)

I should warn you at this point, should you decide to try this, WEAR EYE PROTECTION! Sometimes the studs will fly away, with great speed, and like most small rapidly moving objects, they aim for eyes and fine china.

220 studs later... (Some went missing...)
It was time to start installing the screws. I used a pair of needle nose pliers to grip the sharp end of the screw. I squeezed the tire to open the tread pocket, and just sort of twisted and forced the head of the screw in.

Once again, USE EYE PROTECTION! There's more force behind the screws than the studs, and they will fly far and hit hard. A few screws flew away, and I'm sure I won't find them again unless we move out.

If all goes well, and you haven't shot your eyes out, you'll have tires that look like this:

Now. Having just finished both tires, I have yet to ride them at all. I can tell you now, traction on pavement will be horrible, what with 1/4" of screw sticking out of the tires, and will likely result in several of the studs being ripped out. Even on ice, this is a bit impractical. For this reason, I'm thinking of trimming them down shorter with a pair of heavy wire cutters. Also, my fingers and thumbs hurt from removing and installing 228 studs total.

These screws are steel, just like the studs I replaced them with, and therefore won't last more than a season or two. However, they're cheap to replace, (If a bit labor intensive) and I can keep replacing them as long as the tire casing is still good. I'll be sure to post an update if anything significant (Good or bad) happens.

So, in answer to the question, do I make my own studded tires?

Not really, but I replace the studs with screws when they get too worn down.

Mileage: 5.3

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Contrast Ratio

I love Fall in Flagstaff. The contrast between changing leaves and evergreens just makes me take a deep breath and wait for Winter to bring it.

I had thought I had missed the majority of the leaves changing colors this year. Normally I'd have ridden into the Inner Basin to see the aspens, but it's closed off as a result of the Schultz fire. So, I headed south on the Arizona Trail in search of some gold, and not expecting much.

Methinks I was just in time.
Mileage: 41.7

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Photo Dumpage: Meadview and Fall Colors

Last weekend saw a trip out to Meadview Arizona with TC and Alex, and one of the days involved me getting the bright idea to ride from Meadview to Lake Mead, more specifically the boat ramp at South Cove.So under cloudy skies I set off.

I see the lake!

Will the weather hold out?

This downhill was the whole goal of the ride.

Boat ramp extension construction.

I scared up a flock of ducks.

The long grind up hill...

Made it to the top!

At this point I decided to explore, and ended up riding to the Meadview International Airport, Hair Care, and Tire Center, which sits on a mesa north of town.

Looking towards Pearce Ferry from the mesa.

STeve checking out the view. I love the geology of this area.

The airstrip. I decided to see how fast I could ride down it and back. I am decidedly slower than a Bugatti Veyron.

Long straight road back to Meadview.

Now... it's the end of Octoberber, and I'm sure someone's wondering where the usual fall colors I seem to post every year are. Fall came late, and I've been a little busy, but today, the Josh monkey and I set out for a ride over the Dry Lake Hills, which took us through some colorful trees.

Josh climbing a boulder...

Followed by myself.

Not many things will stop me when I'm rolling down sweet flowing trail like Sunset on the way down to Schultz Tank.
But that did.

Mileage: 32.3