Friday, December 30, 2011


(Eighth in a series of stories about every bike I've ever owned.)

I started to become a little more serious about riding, so I decided to upgrade from my heavy one speed cruiser to a multi-speed hybrid. I painted it with sparkly silver nail polish, composed a song for it and mounted two bells for accompaniment. ...Staaar-zaaan, take me to the moon...

After working as Volunteer Coordinator for the Cycle Messenger World Championships in San Francisco, I was invited to compete in the following year's race in Barcelona. I took this bike with me and won the prize for best dressed - the trophy still adorns my book shelf.

Competing in these races was the impetus behind quitting my regular job and becoming a full time messenger. But not on this bike - I sold it to a lady from Craig's List who was moving to a farm in Oregon and promised to "give it a good home". I live in Oregon now and constantly have my eye out for old Starzan.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


(Seventh in a series of stories about every bike I've ever owned.)

The lard-lubed hubs on this beat up pea-green cruiser made it smell like a divey Mexican restaurant, so I named it Taqueria. It was with this bad mamma-jamma that I experienced the first ever Critical Mass.

It all happened one Friday evening while leaving downtown. I noticed a small crowd of people riding bicycles down Market Street and followed them to Justin Herman plaza, where a sea of bicyclists stood waiting for a ride to take place. I'd never seen so many people gathered on bicycles before.

So, the fall of 1992 in San Francisco became a pivotal time for me as a cyclist. It was the first time I'd ridden with other people socially and as a political statement. The beginning of riding for the sake of riding and in many ways, the beginning of a whole new identity.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Miyata, Part Dieci

C'est accompli!
Recabled the butter's rear brake so it'll stop stopping when turning left. Tweaked the derailleur adjustment. Mounted the basket! Rode to the bar.

Thank you to Zac for the fork and decals. Thank you to Nick for the bars and downtube shifters. Thank you to Frank for the expertise and patience.

Next up: the Apex.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Gravel Practice

I was treated to two gorgeous rides in the Willamette Valley over the weekend. The plan was to ride about 20 to 25 miles each time for the purposes of exercise and exploration.

To my delight and surprise, the first route led to a gravelly road, Robison (or Robinson, depending on which direction you approached from!). I got in about four textured miles before my "deadline" to turn back.
On the return trip, I noticed a sign for Coffin Butte road and behind it, a giant rectangular-topped butte. I vowed to return and climb it on the following ride.

Fast forward two days and several gingerbread cookies later. This time the road was wet, there was a thick fog and I expected fanged deer to leap out at me from behind every bush.

Coffin Butte turned out to be a landfill covered with no trespassing signs. I turned into a gated drive labelled "dead end", rode past the "dead end 1/2 mile", the "dead end 1/4 mile" and finally to the dead end.

The road led to a small bridge, passable only by bikes and squirrels, then a lot of leafy muck and blackberry brambles. Just when I thought I'd have to turn back, I spied some gravel ahead, which finally gave way to a hard-packed dirt road.

So, without road signs or a map or any visibility whatsoever, I forged ahead. The dirt changed back to gravel. Finally I encountered a road sign - my old friend Robison - and put in a total of 6 or 7 gravelly miles before returning to pavement and "civilization".

I am now feeling ready to unleash some bravery on the Velodirt 2012 rides. Look out world!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Road Texture

It doesn't matter how strong you feel. It's easy to bottom out and flat on tough terrain.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Miyata, Part Nove

Putting the brakes on.
Ready to test ride!
Hoping to debut on the road for real on 12/26.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


(Sixth in a series of stories about every bike I've ever owned.)

That's right. I was once Huffy-dumb. Then I learned firsthand why they're only used in bike-toss competitions.

San Francisco didn't have a cheap Chicago-style bike flea market, so I spent $50 at a department store on a royal blue "city bike".

Riding down a three block long steep hill, I watched the entire assembly of both plastic "caliper" brakes disintegrate and fly off the bike. I left it there at the bottom of the hill.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

English Upright

(Fifth in a series of stories about every bike I've ever owned.)

Another cruiser from the flea market, this one was black and had harder lines than the curvy Columbia.

I remember riding it in the snow quite a bit. It never occurred to me to be scared of riding in snow (the way I am now!).

When I packed up to move to California, the bike wouldn't fit in the U-Haul, so I left it behind on the sidewalk. Later I would learn what a huge error I had made that day.

Columbia Cruiser

(Fourth in a series of stories about every bike I've ever owned.)

In the late 80s, I scored a beautiful turquoise single speed step-through for just $10 at a flea market. My sole transportation, this little gem shuttled me between my apartment in Wrigleyville, my jobs downtown and my classes on the south side of Chicago.

One sad day, I came out from work to find an empty pole where my bike had been locked. Walking home that night, I cried myself silly over the loss. I dangerously detoured through the Cabrini Green projects thinking I could find and recapture it.

This theft is likely the impetus behind a recurring dream where I successfully chase down bike thieves and rescue my ride like a Jedi ninja.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My Miyata, Part Otto

Ladies and gentlemen - we have a winner! Newly powder-coated fork number four actually fits on the butter beater.

What's more, the brake caliper mounted through the fork easily and the brake pads actually reach the rim! I feel like I've won the lottery.

Check out all the shiny goodness here. Even the cable end crimp is golden.

Now, all that's left to do is:
- troubleshoot the front wheel (wrecked or just untrue?)
- tighten the headset
- install and cable the rear brake
- tweak derailleur adjustment
- shorten the chain
- wrap the bars and accessorize

Ok, that looks like a long list, but I'm anticipating only one or two more sessions before this gorgeous machine fulfills its intended purpose and is READY to roll.

Ready, ready, ready.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Brevet #5, Sans Randonneurds

The route for the final in the Randonneurd Brevet Series changed from Washougal to Lil Switzerland. Feelin kinda bored of the east side, we decided to stick with the original route.

Three of us cruised along at "joyride" speed, humming along until after Camas, where the climbing began.

And finally, my old nemesis, the gravel. This type of "road texture" forces you to be present when riding. No daydreaming, just here and now.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pink Three Speed

(Third in a series of stories about every bike I've ever owned.)

One summer while home from college, my Mom and Dad asked me if there was anything they could've done differently when I was growing up. I asked why they gave both me and my sister bikes for my 13th birthday.

The next day I awoke to a birthday cake breakfast and a new pink step-through bicycle with a pink bow on the handlebars. Please ignore the extremely bad hair-do in the photo and just look at the bike.
This sweet little ride ended up getting stolen from outside the bar where I worked junior year at college. Boy did I cry over that little bit of thievery.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Portland Wheelman: Ride Report

Intent on pursuing a "Christmas in July" riding plan, I joined the PWTC Tuesday night ride.

The fast pace, small group, sprints, darkness and somewhat extreme weather conditions (35 degrees and foggy) transformed familiar territory into something different.

Somewhere I hadn't ridden before, at least in my mind. It's a nebulous somewhere - a place within the pack. We create a place riding together that has nothing to do with the road we're on.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Walk. Bike. Vote.

What an ingenious idea! This non-profit group hooks up human transportation advocates with politicians. The politicians win votes and recognition. The constituents earn a chance to voice their precise wishes. A win-win, as they say. (I've added a link under "some sites" to the right.)

The launch party was held at the Crank shop, whose owners were on the last Randonneurd Brevet ride. Small world. Free beer. That's me in the back on the left talking to a Christmas tree.

Monday, December 5, 2011

BikeCraft Fair

My plan to trade out Christmas month for July-style riding is coming together nicely.

Another gorgeous day on a bike. Hills. 70 sunny brilliantly chilly miles.

Then, a stop at the BikeCraft Fair! Cool stuff. Cool people. Cold beer.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Free Spirit

(Second in a series of stories about every bike I've ever owned.)

For my 13th birthday, I received a red ten-speed from Sears. Here's a picture of someone else's. Mine had drop bars and down tube shifters.

This bike served as a great escape hatch during teenage years and valuable transportation at the expansive Michigan State University campus.

I remember riding no hands and no helmet all around the subdivision where my folks lived in suburban Detroit.

No idea whatever happened to this thing but I wish I still had it.