After a quick plot of the route on MapMyRide I decided that it was very ‘doable’ to explore commuting to work by riding my bike from my house to the Issaquah Highlands Park and Ride.  The route is straight forward: 202 to Issaquah-Fall City road, to Highlands Drive.  18 miles.  One big climb each way and some rollers.  When Kim got home from the barn I headed out for a ride on the Fuso to test out the course.

So that’s the commuting part.  It’s a nice ride, traffic is light and there are some side roads I can take if I want to avoid it further (though making the trip a bit longer) and it includes the final climb from the Flying Wheels Century up Issaquah-Fall City road.  I like this last climb because it comes at 80 miles in and lots of people are beat.  It’s good for my ego at that point in the ride (if I’ve got the training under my belt).  Only down side is there are only racks at the park and ride, no lockers.  If I really care about the lockers, I can add ~4 miles to the ride and get to a park and ride with lockers.  If I ride the Trek, that’s a consideration.  If I ride the Ciocc or Fuso, not so much.  I don’t think I mind locking up my vintage steel all day but I’m still not comfortable doing that with the Carbon Fiber frame.

Now, gears and ego.  Well, when Dad was here last week riding the Ciocc (on the brand new wheels after the car accident) we were adjusting the index shifting and couldn’t get into the smallest gear which is important since the house is at the top of a 10+% grade hill.  So we where examining the freewheel, or should I say cassette, and something didn’t seem right so we took it apart.  Dad cleaned it up and it turned out that a number of the cogs were backwards and the 2nd to last cog was not sitting on the grooves of the cassette and wasn’t threaded on the threads so it was pure friction that was keeping it in place.  I pulled out my small collection of cogs and we found a better fit and made sure all of the cogs were facing the right way and shifting up to the 23 tooth cog started working.  Excellent.

Since we had the chain whips out and were playing with cogs, I decided to look at the cassette hub on the Fuso.  See, it’s got a 6 speed cassette on it with 7 speed shifters.  That means I’m stuck with friction.  I hadn’t looked a the gearing so I took it apart and checked it out.  I assumed it was a 24 or 23 tooth low gear but it turned out to be 26.  Here’s where ego comes in a bit.  I decided I didn’t need a 26 and rebuilt it with a 23 tooth cog as the largest instead.

First some history.  My first racing bike was a 24″ Peugeot 12 speed.  I didn’t like the Sauc-huret freewheel so I bought campy hubs and re-laced the wheels with them.  I didn’t end up growing the extra 6 to 8 inches I needed to for the 24″ frame to really fit me so when I wanted to buy a proper Italian racing bike my senior year in high school I got a 23″ frame - my Ciocc.  (I now know I need a 53cm frame)  I built the Ciocc from the frame up.  Bought the new Ultegra groupo with 7 speed cassette and put it all together myself.  I laced the wheels but let the shop true them.  When I ordered the cassette I wanted a fast one so I chose a 21-12 gearing to go with the 42/53 chain rings.  All 18yr old ego.

You  see, I was living in Los Alamos, NM at the time.  6500 ft elevation at my house.  The favorite riding loop was 27 miles with ~2K of climbing.  Other routes took me into the Jamez mountains up to 9000+ feet in elevation with a few 10+% climbs.  I got around but I struggled more than I needed to.  A 23 or 24 tooth cog would have made the hills go faster for sure.

With that experience in mind, when I bought my Trek, I got the compact drive.  No need for an ego at this point I said, I wanted to be comfortable but couldn’t bring myself to a triple so I went CD.  The Trek goes all the way down to 36×27 which is nice when climbing hills in Kirkland with Brad.  Keeps me from getting tired out.

So, what do I do the 2nd ride after I take off the 26 tooth cog, I go climb Issaquah-Fall City and 202 up past Snoqulamie Falls.  Neither is particularly steep, just kind of long but with only a 23 I wasn’t spinning like Lance, more like grinding like Jan.  I’ve not put the 26 back on yet but I’m really thinking about it.


  • Type: Cycle
  • Date: 04/13/2008
  • Time: 16:03:00
  • Total Time: 2:20:00.00
  • Average Heart rate: 175
  • Max Heart rate: 200
  • Distance: 36 miles
  • Average Speed: 15.43 mph
  • Max Speed: 36 mph
  • Average Cadence: 80
  • Max Cadence: 103

One Response to “Of commuting, gears, and ego…”

  1. Stephen says:

    Hey there,

    I stumbled across your blog while researching my latest pet project (which you can read about on my rarely visited blog).

    I thought it was interesting that we have similar blog titles and both live in North Bend. I’m anything but a dedicated roadie, but I am a year-round bike commuter.

    I work in Issaquah and often do the bus & bike commute during inclement weather, but when I do ride the distance, I always take I-90. I would never ride 202 to Issy/Fall City Road - that’s a death sentence. Be careful.

    Anyway I enjoyed your blog; keep up the great work.