Thoughts and Adventures From Greenlite Heavy Industries

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A New Totem

I had to go to to the north end of downtown Seattle – near the base of Queen Anne - yesterday in order to pay for some Schoeller fabric which I’d like to try on the bike pants. Schoeller is top of the line stuff, but it’s also very expensive, so I’ll have to make up a pair and see how the cost-benefit analysis works out. Getting to the base of Queen Anne from Mercer Island is no small matter.

Accessing the south end of downtown – near Union Station and Pioneer Square – from Interstate 90 is dead easy but the three miles from Pioneer Square to the Seattle Center is dicey to say the least. When zipping along a busy downtown street I don’t so much worry about the moving cars – perhaps I should be more worried, but I’m comfortable riding in traffic – but parked cars, now those are scary. Some dude is late for a meeting, spots a curbside parking spot, pulls in, throws the car in park and flings open his door: bam I’m on the pavement. It used to be that while riding along a line of parked cars you could look to see if there was someone in the driver’s seat and take evasive action, but now with every car and SUV having tinted windows you can’t see crap. Consequently I ride three to four feet to the left of a string of parked cars, probably angers some drivers, but that’s better than a door in the face.

When I arrived at Seattle center I stopped to check out the new totem pole, which was erected only a day before. It’s a memorial to a local woodcarver who was inadvertently shot and killed by a Seattle police officer. I’m a big fan of Northwest Coast art, and the pole is definitely a nice piece of work.

I rode with the duck fabric urban bicycling pants over my racing knickers. The thermometer was reading high thirties so I rolled up the pants to the knees and pulled on a pair of wool ski socks. I was warm and comfortable. Rode 29 miles, which makes my year total 370 miles.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Nice and Easy

I had to go to the post office on Friday, it’s a ten mile round trip, so I decided to take the cross bike for a nice leisurely ride. What a difference it makes riding in street clothes, well my commuter pants really, just cruising along at a nice even twelve miles an hour. Normally I’m out there sweating and cranking as hard as I can, but on Friday I was simply riding along, no sweating, no strain.

Getting around by bicycle doesn’t have to be a sweat drenched arduous affair. You can run or you can walk; so can you ride easy or ride hard. When I was riding to the post office I never broke a sweat even though I was wearing a down coat and had to crank up a big hill. Every time I felt the prickly itch signaling that I’m about to break a sweat I geared down and eased up. It worked every time. Riding slow and taking it easy also brought back my love of cycling. Sometimes I get so caught up in training and racing that I forget how much I actually love cycling.

With all that said I did have to jump on the trainer for a full on training session later in the day.

On Saturday I snuck out for two laps around the island for a total of 27 miles. Sam, Sophia and I had gone out for breakfast at the Sorrento Hotel where I had a three egg omelet; that was mega energy for two quick laps.

Total 2012 mileage is 341.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Wednesday, after three days of riding in the rain I finally cried uncle and drove downtown to meet with Matt the clothing designer. I swear it was raining when I left home but only five miles away in downtown Seattle it was nothing but blue.

The pants are exactly what I was looking for. We made this pair out of 10 oz duck, they have a great fit and a unique style – I’ve never seen anything like them. Can’t wait to start putting images up on this blog.

Got home and took the pants for a 14 mile lap of the Island. Today I was short on time so I got in 10 miles of hill riding. Total for the year is 304 miles.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Downtown in the Rain

Rode into downtown to talk to clothing designer, Matt, about the bike commuter pants I’m working on. We have some fabric now and I’m super stoked about seeing iteration #3. In and out was 22 miles of steady rain and a brisk wind. It looks like we Seattleites are in for a good long run of gray wet winter weather.

I wore a pair of Ibex knickers, made out of a Schoeler soft shell material, over my team issue thermal team issue thermal knickers. Didn’t stay all that dry. Don’t know if anything short of a rubber suit would have kept me dry.

I pulled out the cross bike yesterday, thinking that it might be a safer ride than my slick-tired road bike. My clip-on fenders were a no go. I think I’ll drop some bucks and pick up a set of fenders for the cross bike, winter here is far from over. I’d also like to get a pair of those Vittoria Randonneurs – in white – that would be cool.

2012 mileage total is now 306.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Wind, Rain, Cold

Knocked off 55 miles with the team on Saturday. Wind, rain, and cold – we had all three. We had a stiff wind out of the south and riding across the I-90 Bridge spanning Lake Washington was a touch and go affair. My wheels aren’t all that aero, but I do have bladed spokes and boy howdy was I knocked about by the cross wind. Actually it wasn’t seriously cold and so long as I was peddling I was fairly comfortable.

I’ve been trying out a product called Sport Legs, it seems to do wonders for keeping the legs feeling fresh. Tired legs is something I’ve been battling all winter, perhaps this is a cure, or else maybe I’m just getting in better shape.

My buddy Brian is fond of saying “growing old ain’t for pussies.” True that. As I approach 50 all sorts of weird things seem to be happing: claustrophobia, baldness, and now an intolerance for alcohol. It seems even a single glass of red wine or a bottle of beer will inevitably render a banger of a headache. I hate headaches, maybe I need to start trying hard liquor. I’ve never been much a spirits man; always tasted like gasoline to me.

My yearly bike mileage total is now 284.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Knocked off 45 miles with my friend Kris yesterday. That brings the 2012 total mileage up to 229. Small numbers yet. I need to log a few long rides to get those miles up. I'm leading a team ride this Saturday, that'll give me 60 miles. Cold and wet today I may have to go with the trainer once again. If the weather clears this afternoon I'll break out the TT bike and take a lap of Mercer Island. I'll kick-off my racing season March 3rd at the Icebreaker TT; I should get a few miles on the TT bike beforehand.

Thinking about using my race reimbursement check to buy a Garmin Edge 500.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Zoo Hill

Something to consider

Last year my training method of long moderate rides didn’t seem to be getting me to the finish line any sooner than my competition, so this year I’ve decided to add in some shorter distance high intensity workouts. One of these workouts involves a climb of a particularly nasty hill in these hereabouts known as Zoo Hill. It’s a scenic, yet relentless, climb up Cougar Mountain just east of Seattle.

Yesterday I started out en route to Zoo Hill under marginal skies – I’m so tired of riding on the trainer that I figured a little rain is a fair price to pay for some road miles. When I started uphill the weather was quickly going downhill and as I neared the summit out came the hail. By the time I reached the top it was a full on snow storm. I pulled over into a little bus stop shed, pulled on my rain coat and prepared for the downhill. I almost immediately lost my rear brake to worn out pads and as I whipped through the sleet and hail it felt as though I was riding through a Saharan sandstorm.

I arrived at home with frozen feet and a grimy bike. I can’t believe that racing season starts in two and a half weeks.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bike Swap

Sophie and I went to the Cascade Bicycle Club Ski Swap down at Seattle Center on Sunday morning. We arrived an hour after the doors opened and boy was it some kind of crowded mosh pit in there. Cyclists certainly are an eclectic crowd. There are so many little factions and cliques in the cycling world: trendy urban hipsters, all business commuters, focused racers, outrageously shod cross racers, mega-thighed tracksters, busted and broken free riders, old school hard tail mountain bikers, BMX bowl riders, wooly randoneurs, just happy to be here STPer’s; it’s a mixed crowd without a lot of overlap.

I’m hoping that Greenlite Heavy Industries (the bike clothing company co-founded by myself and my friend Bianca) will be able to bridge the gap that divides many of these factions. When I joined the Cucina Fresca Cycling Team last year someone asked me what kind of biking I do, I replied that if it has two wheels I’m game. I stand behind that.

The idea behind Greenlite is to get people out on their bikes. I don’t care how fast you ride, how far you ride, just ride, your life will be the better for it.

After swapping at the swap (actually all we bought was a bracelet made of old bike chain - I was tempted by a celeste green Ciocc) Sophie and I hit Pesos at the base of Queen Anne for some huevos rancheros. I'm still looking for the perfect huevos rancheros place, Greenlake Jakes was the best, but they've been out of business for like fifteen years.

Monday, February 13, 2012

We spent much of the weekend in Tacoma – at a gymnastics meet. I live in Seattle and have passed through Tacoma nigh on one hundred times, but this is only the second time I’ve actually stopped and got out of the car. Downtown Tacoma is actually a very hip, hop happening place – except for the fact that it is completely devoid of people. The folks who make decisions in Tacoma seem to have had a build it and they will come vision.

The downtown has an arts infrastructure like I’ve never seen anywhere else. Art is everywhere. And not I’m not talking about half assed low end stuff, but visionary thoughtful, well-made and well-executed stuff. The University of Washington campus is in the middle of downtown and uses a cool synergy of old and new architecture. Many of the buildings are a blending off old and new construction, and the new stuff wasn’t just cobbled on, but instead was designed with thought and class.

I was there Thursday night, Friday night and Saturday all day and probably saw less than twenty people on the street. There is more life in a morgue. The build it and they will come vision doesn’t seem to be working out as well in Tacoma as it did Northeastern Iowa. The Tacoma folks took a shot, I hope it pays off.

My outdoor bike riding has been foiled by either rain or darkness since last Thursday. Over the past three days I’ve ridden five hours on the trainer. It’s raining again today... Still at 159 miles. I might have to revisit this idea that I’m not counting trainer miles in my yearly total.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Had to take a ride into downtown Seattle today. Normally I'm decked out in my Cucina Fresca racing kit but today, since I'm designing urban bike clothing, I decided to go in Levi 501's and a Key hickory stripe logger shirt. The Levi's are new, I bought the rigid fabric this time with the intent of finding out whether or not the shrink to fit claim actually works. My biker thighs just don't fit into regular jeans, so I figured what the heck let's try something new. I read some shrink to fit instructions on the web and the general consensus seems to be to wear them for a good long time before trying the shrink - well 21 miles on a bike in the rain ought to simulate a good long time.
Actually my clothing choices worked out quite well. I wore my team issue winter knickers under the Levis and I layered a heavyweight baselayer and a vest under the cotton hickory shirt. I liked having the button down chest pockets as they gave me a handy secure place for the cell phone, much better than trying to simultaneously ride a bike while fishing a phone out of your pants pocket. I can see why the loggers like those hickory shirts, yes they are cotton, but dang that fabric is warm, I was actually a bit too hot.
Got in 21 miles today bringing the total up to 159 miles.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Grand Ridge

A stunning day here in the Pacific Northwest, I made the best of it by getting out on the Yeti for some mountain biking. Several weeks ago two teammates – Matt and Jason – introduced me to the Grand Ridge, an uphill, downhill, uphill, downhill route leading from Tiger Mountain near Issaquah to the Duthie Hill mountain bike park. I decided that this would be a great place to spend a sunny afternoon.

It was nice to be out by myself. When I last rode the route with Matt and Jason it was all I could do to just make them wait a little while at the top of each rise. It’s good to get out and push it with folks who are technically and physically superior, but it’s also good to get out and sharpen your skills without the guilt of knowing that you’re messing up someone else’s training session.
I don’t get out on the trails enough. Being out in the woods, either alone or with like-minded friends, gives me a kind of primeval recharge. We’re deep into the season of bullshit and it seems like I can’t even turn on the radio without hearing some sort of nonsense that’s even lower and filthier than what I heard the day before. Rick and Newt don’t exist in the woods. Out there it’s just you and what you can do: either you pedaled to the top of the hill or you pushed your bike, either way it’s you and what you did.

All told I only knocked off fourteen miles, but they were hard earned. I started my 2013 mileage tally on February 1; I now stand at 138.