28 March 2009

My New Bike Rack

Today I purchased a very very expensive bike rack. Back in January, 1998, without any antipation of doing so, I drove north with a friend of mine and bought a really nice red and gray bike rack. I have used it faithfully for the last 12 years, managing to carry my bikes to and from from home to ride start lines in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia. Over the years, my old bike rack became stained, some of the functions were beginning to get worn, although it still functioned very well. Why, just last summer, I used that fantastic bike rack in support of the Cascade 1200, and as late as last week, used it to get myself and my bike to the start line for my fifth 200k ride of the calendar year. It's been a great bike rack, but now, it is time for something newer, with a little more pizzazz, if you will. So this week, having spent a lot of time and research, I found a new bike rack that I thought would fill the bill a little better. I did my homework well, thinking that I would really like to get a new bike rack that would last me at least as long as the last one, so decided that if I could, I'd get the same model as the last one, but just a little more tricked out, what with all the new technological advances there have been in the last decade or so. And here's what I came up with:




14 March 2009

Me, Myself and I Go For A Little Ride

Barely made it today. We were supposed to do our annual Roller Coaster Ride which is a 62 mile ride that starts out from the Southworth ferry with 14 miles of flats into Port Orchard. Then there is a long climb before hitting a bunch of rollers between there and Gig Harbor, where we stop for sammiches before hitting the reeeeeaaaaaaal climbs that culminate in an awesome sweeping descent back to the ferry. It literally is like riding a roller coaster. But it was raining pretty good and 39 degrees, so we just went and had coffee. Mimi came along with me and wasn't going to ride now way no how in that muck. After coffee, everybody got back in their nice warm and cozy cars and drove off, most to Bike Expo. I decided to ride home - it's only about 7 miles, and I figured I could do that and give myself a shot at keeping that consecutive days of riding active for me.

So I started up the hill and when I got to the top at 35th, I was feeling pretty good, so thought to myself, "Self, why not get a few extra miles in?"

My self thought back to me, "welp, I reckon as how we might just as well, since we're already wet."

So I says to myself, "So what do you think: distance or climbing?"

And my self says back, in a barely audible whisper probably hoping I'd chicken out, "Why not head south to Barton and do that little 1/3 mile 300' climb up Marine View Drive?"

So, I did. And I was getting sweaty inside my rain jacket. Then when I got to the top, I was nice and warm and cozy, riding along in the rain and again, in a moment of temporary insanity, said to myself, "Self, what do you wanna do now? We could go home and do laundry or maybe get a 100k in."

"SIXTY TWO MILES IN THIS SLOP???? ARE YOU INSANE???" Like myself really needs to ask me THAT! I wasn't answering.

After a little back and forth between the two remaining brain cells I have, with common sense losing out to inner child who likes to play in puddles, I continued south, thinking maybe I could ride to Des Moines for a bowl of soup, then on to Normandy Park and maybe get some really good climbing in.

After being on 16th Ave. SW and then Ambaum for a while, I didn't much like the increasing traffic, so when I got to Milam's, I turned right, knowing there is a way down to the water, but not remembering if it went north or south when I got down there. At the top of the hill, there was a sign warning of 16% downgrade.

"Do you REALLY want to go down that with a better than even chance you're gonna have to climb back?" myself said in a thundering voice.

"Well, I'm out here to do some climbing, what difference does it make which hill I tackle?", I replied. Myself called me a lying fool who should be committed.

"Go ahead" myself said, "Make more of a fool of yourself. But I want off here." So common sense waited at the top of the hill beneath a sign while the fool rode down, only to have to ascend back up the 16% grade, finding a few spots that are 19 and 20%. Fun.

Well, after all that, I was almost to Burien, and myself decided to stop and visit my friend Ken and use his bathroom. He offered me coffee, which I accepted. I called Mimi to let her know I wasn't coming straight home. "You've really gone off the deep end, haven't you?" She asked. I didn't know what she meant. Me and myself did, but they weren't talking. I think they were scared to challenge me.

Then Ken offered me myself and I a ride home. None of us turned him down.

Ended up with 12.05 miles; 1:05 ride time and 1,485' of climbing in.

So on the 75th day of the year, I kept hope alive, with SEVENTY-THREE consecutive days.

12 March 2009

An Open Letter To Representative Krieger

Dear Representative Krieger:

I've been accused recently of being a wacky old curmudgeon for something I recently posted in my blog expressing my feelings about your new proposal to the Oregon State Legislature. You can read that if you would like, but I doubt it would give you any great insights or change your mind. I did, however, find one of your remarks to Bicycle Portland recently to be particularly telling:

"Talk about a time when you need some revenue for transportation...bikes have used the roads in this state forever and have never contributed a penny. The only people that pay into the system are those people who buy motor vehicle licenses and registration fees."

Your logic here, sir, is flawed. Every citizen, regardless of their mode of transportation, pays into the sytem. Here are just a few examples.

When I leave my house and walk to the grocery store, spend $100 in purchases of food and other essentials, I am paying a price for those goods. In order for those goods to be manufactured, tranported to a warehouse, picked up and transported from the warehouse to the grocery store, there was a price to pay for shipping. It costs roughly $6,000 in freight charges to move a truck load of fresh produce from California to New York. Of that, a substantial portion pays for gasoline and other highway taxes. Further, each employee of the grocery store had to get to work. Most of them drove. Their salaries are paid by the grocery store, who adds the cost of those salaries into the cost of goods sold. Those salaries paid for the automobiles those employees drove to work. By my purchase of goods, I, too, paid for the construction and maintenance of those roads. I paid for this whether I owned a car, drove a car, rode a bicycle, rode the bus, or flew.
When I walk down the street, I am not paying registration fees, have not paid a license or otherwise "contributed to the system." By your logic, every citizen, in order to pay a fair share, should be registered to walk across the street. After all, they ARE using the street and have been using those streets forever without contributing a penny.
Oregon, like every other state, receives federal highway dollars. If they did NOT receive these funds and had to pay for all of their road projects themselves, there would be far less resources to maintain state, county and city streets and roads. Every citizen who holds a job pays into the federal tax system. A portion of those tax dollar go to fund Oregon's highways, regardless of whether that taxpayer drives, rides a bike, rides the train, flies, walks or hitchhikes.
While some cyclists don't own cars, the majority of us do. You would have to be blind to miss the numbers of automobiles (including low-mpg RV's) driving down the highways with bicycles mounted on them. Each one of those automobiles driving down the road with bicycles on them has paid for registration, licenses and paid their fair share of gas and other taxes.

I was fortunate enough to have grown up in Oregon, living all of my childhood years in The Dalles, Portland, Cannon Beach and Waldport, and part of my adult life in Eugene and Portland. Though I have not lived in my home state for several years, I continue to have a lot of family in the state and many, many friends. I visit my home state often, and frequently ride my bicycle there. On OUR roads.

As an aside, here in the State of Washington, we can proudly claim that my local bicycle club, Redmond Cycling Club, was the leading single contributor to the Washington National Park Fund over the past two calendar years, contributing thousands of much needed dollars to restore Mt. Rainier National Park after severe flooding. There are countless other projects across this great nation of ours, including Oregon, that cyclists pay directly into. By doing so we help to free up other much needed local resources, making it possible to fund direct improvements to all of our social infrastructure, including bicycle improvements which make our roads safer for bicyclists and motorists alike.

Here is my commitment to you, sir. I promise to stand in opposition to this bill both vocally and financially. Additionally, I promise to double my contributions this year to the following causes:

Washington National Park Fund
Rails to Trails
League of American Cyclists
Cascade Bicycle Club

Each of these organizations (save the WNPF) is heavily involved in bicycle advocacy, community education and funding of projects to make for better cycling communities. Thank you for making me a better citizen. I, and many of my fellow cyclists, really do want to pay our fair share. We simply don't do it the same way as you. I hope that over the next few months as this issue is debated in the greater community, you will gain some insights into this that help you, also, to become a better citizen.

Very truly yours,

Donald Boothby
Seattle, WA

10 March 2009


I keep hearing and reading this from motorists who don’t like bicyclists and see them as “freeloaders”, and I am really getting tired of it. Who died and made you guys the tax police for crying out loud? Please explain to me just exactly what you mean by 'it's that simple'. And now we have these four legislators in Oregon who want everyone to be forced to register their bikes at a cost of $54 every two years or face a $90 fine. There would be a $25 fine for failing to notify the State when ownership changes hands, too.

I read this “cyclists are freeloaders” garbage in the blogs. I read it in the editorial pages and I read it in the “sound-off” forums. I hear it from motorists who yell at me and tell me to get off the road that was built for them. Well excuse me, ladies and gentlemen, but you are totally missing the point. Let me pose a question to you. The sidewalks in front of your house are paid for with highway and property taxes. I'd like to know just exactly when you plan to register your Nikes, because I PAID FOR THOSE SIDEWALKS with my gas taxes, auto registration, drivers license and other highway user fees, as well as the property tax I paid on the home I own. Where do you get off sharing my road without paying your fair share of taxes when you go out for an evening walk around the block?

So, truly, it is simply NOT THAT SIMPLE. There are a whole lot of issues to discuss, a lot of different stated and hidden agendas in any taxation proposal. For some reason, some people who drive a car and don't ride a bicycle seem to think that ALL people who ride a bicycle don't drive cars and therefore don't pay taxes for the roads. That line of logic is seriously flawed.

For the past 2 years I’ve chosen to ride my bicycle to work instead of driving my car. It keeps me healthier, it removes one vehicle from the I-5 gridlock problem coming into downtown and frees up just one more parking space. If the weather is particularly bad, I will ride the bus and will occasionally drive if I need to do something after work (10 times in 2008 I did this, compared to 208 times I rode my bicycle). On weekends, I am engaged in recreational cycling. Most of the time, I put my bike in the car and drive to where the ride starts. Often, I will drive as far or farther than I have ridden my bike. Just exactly what is the difference between your tax dollars paid to use the road and my tax dollars spent to use the road? If yours are paying for the roads and mine aren’t, explain why. Did not those very tax dollars I spent, just like you, pay a fair share of 'other improvments' as well? If not, why not? Get out from behind the Us-versus-Them mask and defend your position!

Just because somebody on a bike at any given moment is not actively putting quarters into the slot machine of tax collection does not mean that person is not paying their fair share of taxes.

If you want to make it fair and balanced, then let us make everything we do subject to tolls and user fees.

My house isn't on fire so I don't want to pay for the fire department. Let's make only those people who CALL the fire department pay for them. That is a fair and balanced approach, right? I don't know what kind of work you do, but I've seen the bill for putting out a 1,500 acre wildfire. I know what it costs. So let's make the person who started the fire pay for it. Or perhaps the person who had property that was protected should pay. But certainly, I should not have to pay for it should I?

My kids are not in school anymore so I don't want to fund schools. Why should I pay to educate YOUR children? I already paid for mine. I'm sure that will assure your children, funded totally by your efforts will receive a fair and balanced education.

I don't use the highways in Pennsylvania or Texas or Florida, so I don't want any of my federal highway tax dollars to go to those states. Why should they get my money?

Let's make every single thing subject to use fees for just that single purpose. I don't own a house in New Orleans, so I don't want any of my tax dollars going into rebuilding that city. Let the people who live there pay for it or let the city die.

Every time you enter a national park, you should pay the staggering use fees that would be required if the parks were not subsidized by my federal income taxes. Every time you drive onto an interstate freeway that was paid for by my and my parents federal taxes, pay the tolls that would be required to maintain THAT particular roadway. You want fair? You want balanced distributrution of wealth and responsibility? The possibilities are endless.

When you go down to the city park, pay to use it. We can install entry booths and charge admission to the playgrounds. Think of the jobs created by such an endeavor. Charge the kids to use it. Maybe by the hour. And the public restrooms? Charge for them. Seriously! MY tax dollars built them. My money is literally going down the toilet since I'm not the one using those services. Why should I pay for your luxury? Why should you go free? And what about the skateboard parks we've built over the past several years? I paid for those, too. Why aren't the kids paying a use fee for them?

Then there are places like the Ballard (Hiram Chittenden) Locks and the three draw bridges that I pay for with my tax dollars. The only reason those draw bridges open is to allow pleasure and commercial vessels to move between Puget Sound, Lake Union and Lake Washington. Every time a boater passes through the locks, they do so for free. Every time the bridge goes up so the sailboat can go through, it is for free. TO THEM. But NOT TO ME. Make the bums pay, I say. Why should I pay for it? I'm not in a boat. I'm on a bike (or in my car).

Unless and until you are willing to agree to this kind of system, get off your soap box about bicylists not paying taxes or sharing the load. We do plenty, thank you. If you want to hate cyclists, hate us. But at least be honest in your hatred.

01 March 2009

The Six Hundred Dollar Bike Commute

Wednesday afternoon (Feb. 25), Mimi and I were exchanging emails from work and she sent one back saying the local weather forecast was saying we should expect snow. Visiting Weather Underground (www.wunderground.com) I saw that, sure enough, there were dropping temperatures and snow forecast for mid-day Thursday. That night as we were preparing for bed, I stuck my head out the front door and sure enough there were little flakes hitting the top of the car. I got up a couple times in the middle of the night and as late as 3:30, no snow covering the pavement. At 5:22 am, however, I woke up to an inch of snow on the ground. And that is where my little adventure starts.

2-26-09---ROLLING OUT

We had breakfast, considered the possibilities of either staying home, busing in to work, or simply waiting a while. We waited until a little before 8 to leave, since with this kind of storm, it usually melts off early. After getting my panniers loaded down with bike clothes for maybe riding home in the afternoon, I loaded the bike in Mimi's car .....

2-26-09---MIMI'S CAR

.....to drive her down the hill to boeing, where I was gonna drive her up to the gate, then cross back across E. Marginal Way, hop aboard the #174 bus into work, then ride my bike home. Once down the hill, I found tehre was no snow on the roads, and conditions were okay to ride. Mimi was concerned about me riding over the bridges and asked if there was a way in where I didn't have to go up over the tracks, and I said I could use my 'industrial route', which takes me over by East Marginal Way, then along the waterfront on Alaska Way. So I drove over to the coffee shop in Georgetown and she waited while I unloaded bike, panniers and got everything put together, then she drove off to work. Cool, I thought. I get to ride my bike to work after all. Life is GOOD! I had to go to the bathroom really bad, and wanted to change into my tights, bike shoes and booties, figured I'd grab a mocha to keep the core warm, too. When I went in, there was a guy was in the bathroom and after a few minutes, he didn't come out. It seemed like he was going to be there FOREVER, and there were already three other guys circling and impatiently waiting for their turn. This is gonna take a while, I figure, so I put on bike shoes, used my reflective bands to strap my levis down donned my helmet and figured I'd just ride hard to Spokane Street and Airport Way (over the railroad bridge) and stop at Tully's to have a potty break. It's only 6 miles into work from where I was. All was well with the world. My booties were on the Tubus Rack (http://www.ortliebusa.com/cartgenie/prodInfo.asp?pid=81&cid=3) and I knew I really needed them. They are secured, along with the frame pump, with a couple of small bungees. After getting them off the rack and on my feet, I headed north on Airport Way. Going over the bridge across the RR trax, one of the bungees got caught up in the rear wheel, sucked the rear derailleur and chain into the wheel, broke a spoke, broka a $250 derailleur, destroyed a $50 chain and rendered the bike not only unrideable, but not even able to roll. The bungee was wedged securely into the cassette and one of the derailleur pullies, with one end secured tightly to a spoke and the other end hook now firmly secured into one of the chain links. Life is no longer so good. And the reason the $0.25 bungee got caught in the first place is because some bozo failed to secure it when he pulled the booties off because he had to pee so bad. OK, so I'm now ON a bridge in 35 mph traffic. There's snow on the sidewalk where I have to get a 50 pound bike up and over the guard rail. I manage that task, while being overtaken by a semi and a couple of extra long Metro Busses, all spraying me with sandy road grunge. After spending a minute or two fussing with the bike, I realize there is simply no way I'm going to effect any fix. I toss the bike over my shoulder, and walk dejectedly back down off bridge to Preservative Paint's parking lot. Maybe I can at least go over and pee under the bridge. Nope, they showed up at work this morning and I'd be in plain sight of their showroom. Guess I'd better not do that. So now, I'm in the snow. In bike shoes and booties. Totally bummed. How should I play this, I wonder. I can walk a block and catch a bus that will drop me off God knows where or I can sheepishly call Mimi and have her rescue me. If I catch the bus, it's gonna be a long time before I can find a bathroom. I call Mimi. She'll be there in 5 minutes, she says. I figure more like 10. I still have to go potty, now REALLLLLLLY bad. She gets there in just over 5 minutes, and drives me to Tullys. I make a mad dash for the bathroom. Ahhhhh, much better. Come back to the car, work to disassemble the bike, remove the chain, use the offending bungee to secure the busted derailleur down to the chain stay, and I can now at least roll the bike to the bus stop and eventually to the shop. Oh yeah, and as I was getting out of the car, I caught my blackberry on something, tearing it off my belt and breaking the holster, another $10 down the proverbial crapper.

The only criticism Mimi ever made was, "I thought you weren't going to go over the bridge." I tried to explain it would have happened no matter where I would have ridden, but not sure I even believed this myself. While loading the bike onto the bus, the driver got impatient and started honking and yelling at me to hurry up because all of his "real" riders were late for work. With fenders and a front rack, it isn't always easy to pull the wheel hook far enough up to get it to stay, and I really don't ever want to watch my bike fall off the front and get run over by a 10 ton behemoth of a bus. I feebly tried to explain I was late, too, but that just further aggravated him. It didn't get any better. The bus dropped me 2 blocks from the office, and by now the sun was out. So I'm walking my bike down the street and run into my boss on the curb, then Lani and Kelly, 2 of my coworkers walk up. At least they were smiling. They're unloading about 50 cases of Girl Scout Cookies and want to know why I'm WALKING my bike. "It's been a rough morning," I say. "I'll be in about 10." By now, most of the snow melted and it was gorgeous. After getting my hands all greasy earlier, I needed to stop into the office and clean up just a little and noticed as I came off the elevator how beautiful the day was turning out....

2-26-09---THE OFFICE

...and after a quick trip to try and get at least a few layers of grit and grime off, I headed off to Elliott Bay Bikes,


where Bob Freeman spent the better part of the day undoing this MESS:


Because of a couple of late phone calls, I didn't get out of the office until almost 5:00, and as I walked in to Elliott Bay Bikes, there was Katrina, standing tall, perfectly clean and bright and shiny, along with all of the new Davidsons, Orbeas, Bianchis and other marvelous machines Bill and Bob sell. She looked so proud, with over 14,000 miles on her, there with all the newly made models who had never seen the glorious sights of the road. Ah, the stories she must have been telling all day, as Bob carefully cleaned her up, replaced the badly mangled mess I'd made and lovingly tuned her again to perfection. After a few minutes spent shelling out $595.90 for a new derailleur, new cassette (really just planned maintenance the next time I had her in, anyway), new chain, new brake pads new spoke and a whole lot of labor, I I rolled out into the early evening, and as I headed south at Pike Street Market, Mt. Rainier was seen sparkling in all of its glory over Qwest Field, although this photo really doesn't do it justice.