Tandem Service

Since we got back on the bike in December we’ve been mainly on the Ibis – it’s the one with fenders and Odette finds it easier to get on and off the saddle because of the smaller wheels.  A couple of months ago we got enough slack in the chain that I had to adjust the eccentrics (and ended up taking a couple of links out.)  I continued to feel a little “chain suck” and figured that when I replaced the chain I’d likely need to replace the rear cog.  I was tracking mileage since the last service and realized on Friday that I was going to hit 1,400.  I decided that it was time to call R+E and figure out how to get it serviced.

I wasn’t looking forward to that – the last couple of times I’ve had stuff done there were not great and I haven’t forgiven them for ghosting Will when the free hub on his bike failed.  However, I also needed to start the process for getting a new wheel set on the red tandem and if that was going to happen by mid-July when we leave for Europe, a mid-May start was probably not too early.

Aside:  before the pandemic I’d taken the red tandem in because one of the bolts in the disc rotor seemed to be stripped out. They said not to worry,  pro racers sometimes removed three of the six bolts to save weight!  A year ago when I had it serviced it was making a buzzing sound while coasting.  They said  it was because the free hub had “exploded.”   After some false starts they rebuilt the driver and told me that it would be fine for our Lumi Island trip but that i should think about eventually replacing the wheel.   I emailed them at Christmas time about getting a new wheel set (and maybe a 10th anniversary repaint) but they never replied.  I figured I’d get an appointment for the Ibis and while I was there I’d get them to order new hubs for the other bike and then I waited until I accumulated enough miles on the Ibis to justify taking it in for service., thinking somewhere around 1,500.

Another aside: I was really pleased with the way the Ibis had been working.  I never had any of the shifter jams that had troubled me previously, and everything else was functioning smoothly.  It clearly needed at least one new chain (and likely a new cog) and it was time to change the oil in the hub.  I probably also needed new tires – the Serfas Drifters on the Ibis were fifteen years old when I put them on the bike five years ago.  (I’m still not getting any flats and the ride is cushiony, but they’re starting to look pretty bare.)

Ten miles from home on Friday, just entering Judkins Park by the skate park, I went to shift down and the shifter popped and then went slack.  I knew right away that the head had sheared off of the cable (it’s happened a couple of times before) and we started discussing the route home with the least climbing since we were effectively a single speed.  Luckily it was in about he middle of the range and I figured that we could get up 19th on it.  I figured that I could just pull on the cable hard enough make it shift down before we tackled anything serious but we went up 11th without any problem.  Since we would hit Ravena a couple blocks away from R+E I decided that I’d swing by there and talk to them about an appointment –  if I was lucky we’d leave the bike with them and get a Lyft home.

Unfortunately their reaction was that they were booked up through August and that although they weren’t really making any appointments for service right now they’d make an exception and give me a date 90 days out.  I basically told them not to bother and we rode on home, walking that one block on 83rd.

Now I need to find someplace else to get the tandems serviced.  Someplace that knows a least a little about Rholoff and Gebla Rhobox shifters.   The last time I got fed up with R+E I took the bike to Go Family Cyclery because they were convenient and claimed to specialize in long bikes.  I wasn’t happy with that experience and now their website says they only service bike brands they sell. Counterbalance, on the Burke by University Village, sells CoMotion tandems and I’d expect that they service them, too.  There was a link on Reddit a while ago about bike shops in Seattle to use for  internally geared hubs, and I guess that’s a starting place even though I don’t really have hub issues.  (The cog that I expect to need to replace is Rholoff proprietary and it would be nice if I found a place that that had them in stock or that at least knew how to get them.)

For a tuneup and wheel building on a regular bike I’d go to Recycled Cycles and I think that on Tuesday that’s where I’ll go.  Hopefully they will at least have a recommendation for someplace to take them.  I ordered a Campy shifter cable and on Monday we’ll see if I can fix it myself (since the bike’s got cable splitters it’s just a matter of seating the cable in the shifter and cutting it to the right length – I don’t have to fiddle with the connection to the hub.  If that works I’ll be able to take my time and if not, I’m no worse off…



Yesterday I rode back across the 520 bridge and headed for the Burke like I often do.  There were a couple of cyclists stopped in the curb cut off Shelby so I waited for for them to move and then proceeded toward the bridge.  There was a pedestrian on the left that I wanted to get around before I had to do it on the bridge so I went around him on the right – going slowly and leaving a lot of space between us.  After I passed him I suddenly felt myself propelled forward and landed on my face off to the right side of the sidewalk – the guy had run over to me and hit me on the back and knocked me down.  I picked myself up and yelled some obscenities and then spent ten minutes talking to a couple of cyclists coming in the other direction who had seen me get hit.  (Nice guys, but I didn’t get names  – one of them worked at REI.)  While we were talking at least half-a-dozen police cars with slights & sirens headed down Hamlin toward the trail.

This evening I found this on the SPD blotter:

Police Arrest Man Monday Who Assaulted Toddler, Pushed Women into Lake Washington
by Public Affairs on January 18, 2022 6:30 pm
Police arrested a 33-year-old man Monday after a crime spree that included pushing two women into Lake Washington, throwing a toddler, and kicking a jogger to the ground.

At 11:25 am., a 911 caller reported an attempted strong-arm robbery on Marsh Island near the Montlake Cut. Three women were taking photos at a lookout on the lakeside walking trail when the suspect tried to grab one of the women’s phones from her hand. She held on and struggled with the man, and when her friend tried to protect her, he pushed the second woman into the lake. The man then ran off up the trail and the woman was pulled from the lake by her friends.

Within minutes, another caller reported a man had pushed her off the trail into the lake after grabbing her 18-month-old daughter away from her. She said the suspect came up behind them and grabbed her daughter by the hood of her jacket. He lifted the toddler and tossed her to the side of the trail, causing her to scream and cry. When the mother tried to go to her daughter, the man grabbed her by the front of her jacket and pushed her into the lake. He left the scene, and a witness spotted him traveling north across the Montlake Bridge towards the University of Washington.

Officers notified the University of Washington Police Department, who recognized the suspect’s description. The man had been in the UW Medical Center earlier that morning and threw water on an employee before fleeing. UWPD provided surveillance footage of the suspect and the search continued.

Shortly before 1:00 p.m., multiple 911 callers reported an assault in progress in the 12300 block of 30th Avenue Northeast. A male suspect had run up behind a female jogger and swept her legs out from under her with his own leg, causing her to fall forward onto the pavement. A man in his car saw the assault and got out to help. When he approached the suspect, the suspect punched him multiple times in his face and head.

As police began to arrive, the victims pointed out the suspect running away. Officers chased him on foot, took him into custody, and quickly realized he matched the description of the suspect from the Montlake attacks.

Police booked the 33-year-old man into King County Jail for multiple felonies – robbery, assault of a child, and attempted abduction of a child – and requested charges for multiple counts of misdemeanor assault.

One of the guys that stopped suggested calling the police but we all figured it was pointless.  (They said he was screaming incoherently when they passed him and they were scared that they were going to have to use their bikes to defend themselves.)  I’ve got a bruise on my elbow and road rash on my hip but no real damage.

I spent my ride today puzzling about what I had done to piss off a stranger and it really bothered me that there was no conflict and that I was completely surprised to be hit.  Somehow finding out that I wasn’t alone and that it wasn’t my problem makes it feel better.


’22 Preview

Strava sent out a preliminary 2021 recap – through somewhere around the end of the first week in December:

I’ll make 14K miles this year, potentially get close to 15K unless it snows.  My goal for next year is really to continue on track to ride 1K / month for ten years after I quit working – I should be able to rack up year No. 9 in 2022, even with backing off a bit and hopefully with some travel days.


I haven’t taken a single photo on the tandem this year so I don’t have anything for the recent rides page.  Here’s a placeholder I’ll use until I can come up with something better:

(I’d like to use the garage as a background, but it needs to have us and the tandem in the image which makes a selfie dificult)

Ride In The Rain


View post on imgur.com

Here are some rides I’ve been doing a lot recently – mainly because of the wet weather this month.  They ought to take about an hour, but as you can see from the individual  Strava posts, I haven’t been pushing it:


transit center (555) = https://www.strava.com/activities/5658340884

boeing creek(881)  = https://www.strava.com/activities/4318482419

meridian (806) = https://www.strava.com/activities/4328213181

ballard (564) = https://www.strava.com/activities/6244081980

shilshole (682) = https://www.strava.com/activities/5429624825

ravena (889) = https://www.strava.com/activities/6234723693

roosevelt (1013) = https://www.strava.com/activities/6067812734

blue ridge (1119) = https://www.strava.com/activities/6183708198

magnusson (824) = https://www.strava.com/activities/6198078790

lug nuts

You know how in the last few years the bolts on the wheels of big trucks have turned into spikes and fancy chrome-plated things?  Turns out those aren’t shiny metal objects but just lightweight plastic bolt covers.  Also turns out that the spring-loaded plastic bollards used to delineate bike lanes are at exactly the right height to knock them off.  (If you want a mix-and-match set of bolt covers check out East Marginal Way between downtown and Spokane Street – there’s one about every twenty feet.)

100K miles since I stopped working

I wrapped up my paid work at the end of 2013.  90 months later, at the end of June, 2021, I’ve logged 100,519.  That’s  1,117 / month – a little better than my base goal of 1,000 / month.  My next thing is to sustain it for the next 30 months so that I can claim 120K in ten years.


A month ago I read this strata post by Jan Heine, the Bike Quarterly guy: “Amazing course so close to the city – thank you Steve for scouting it.”  In the comments he noted that no permits were required and that the roads were  all open to the public even though it cut through the watershed.  It’s not quite the opening of the Cedar River Trail to Rattlesnake Lake, but I’ve never found a route to Snoqualmie / North Bend that goes east of I-90 so I was intrigued.

I suspected that route finding would be more than Jan let on, so I plotted a route in Ride with GPS and annotated it with river and road crossings just before turns.  In fact the route was pretty simple – out 208th to the crux of the route, a turn onto 364th to get over the ridge.  Then Rattlesnake Rd. out to Highway 18.  Here’s the loop:

I took the studded tires off of the Rodriguez and replaced them with 42mm Continental SpeedRiders – maybe three years old but still lots of tread left.  I set out early with a water bottle and two kind bars, and here’s my ride.

I was looking for a T intersection on 208th and didn’t find it.  The river crossing shown on the map just before that turn is less than obvious.  I figured that the road heading uphill behind the yellow metal gate was probably the route and since I had plenty of time I figured I’d give it a try before backtracking.  The road was better than it looked at the beginning but rocky.  The climbing wasn’t particularly steep and I was waiting for the work to start when I hit the crest and started down.  I must have hit a rock or something just before the first switchback because suddenly my front tire was hissing and I knew I had a puncture.

I couldn’t find anything to lean the bike up against so I turned it upside down and removed front wheel.  I rolled off the tire and found a slice, across from the valve stem, about half-an-inch long.  I pulled off my saddle bag to get a new tube and found that there weren’t any tubes there.  I had forgotten that when I mounted the studs I’d taken the tubes from the saddle bag.  Okay, I thought, I’ll just patch the tube and try to miss the rocks.  The patch kit had a full tube of cement with the seal unbroken – but when I opened it the tube was full of air with a small plug of dried cement at the bottom.

So this was an interesting situation: I was 45 miles into my ride, about 10 miles from Issaquah-Hobart Rd., I wasn’t sure I was on route, and I wasn’t going to fix that tire with the stuff I had with me.  I looked at my phone – it was a little after noon and I had no signal.  Neither Google Maps nor Strava could show me anything about my position.  The first question was whether to continue on the road I was on or to backtrack.

I decided to continue, thinking that there was a pretty good chance that I was on route and besides I was heading in the right direction.  The road leveled out and then started to descend and after the first switchback I started thinking about having to spend the night and pulled out my phone again to turn off the GPS apps.  I saw that after the crest I had a signal, so I called Odette and asked her to come pick me up on Highway 18, not mentioning that I wasn’t sure where I was or if I was on the right road. I wasn’t sure I was where I wanted to be until I came to a T intersection and had to decide which arm to take – Google maps said I had reached Rattlesnake Rd. so I knew  I was about 4 miles from the road I’d asked Odette to meet me at.  A mile or so later and she called me to say she was there – I heard the chime of a text but didn’t check the phone until the next mile marker.  She drove up Rattlesnake Rd. for half a mile until stopped by a gate at a big substation so my walk was a little shorter than expected.  Good thing I’m married to somebody who will drop everything to come bail me out when I get into trouble – that’s twice so far this year!

I’ll return and ride that route clean.  It’s a beautiful forest, the climbs are actually pretty easy, it’s a nice connection that I didn’t know was there – just keep an eye out for rocks.



From 1/1/2014 to 12/31/2020 I rode just over 93,000 miles. By June 2021 I ought to be able to say that I’ve ridden 100K miles since I retired.