Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Columbia Kid Cruiser

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

Here I am at age three standing over the first bike I would ever ride!

This bike is especially special because it taught me how to ride a bike, with a little help from the neighbor kids.

I'll never forget that day. I was eight years old. Tried and tried to ride on the smooth blacktop driveway near the big red barn.

Finally, barefoot, I sliced open my big toe on the chain ring but didn't fall over. I just kept going.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Miyata, Part Sette (or Oh Fork!)

When last we looked at the butter beater project, fork number three was drilled and ready for a brake. But "long reach" is a subjective term not dissimilar to "pro" or "Fred". Meaning this fork will not work.

I found the fourth fork at a seedy motel in downtown Portland. It's an actual Miyata fork from the late 70s and even came with spare Miyata decals!

Here it is after last night's seventh session, which I got to bike to since I only had a fork to drag around. Drilling holes in forks is my new speciality! Next step: blast it and powder coat it and get it on!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Randonneurds Brevet #4

70 flat-ish wet miles. Beautiful country. A crowd of riders. Hibiscus tea and fireplace rest stop followed by 20 leafy bike path miles. Awesome day!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My Miyata, Part Sei

After an hour of sanding and finally re-drilling the fork hole, I mounted the brake, only to reveal that the long reach caliper was still too short.
I'm dizzy with anticipation of what will happen next.

Monday, November 21, 2011

An Interview In Three Parts

A local documentarian asked to interview me about my experience riding in the first Critical Mass, which took place the fall of '92 in San Francisco.

First we had lunch at my house, then Joe set up his equipment and asked the first round of questions. Here's what it looks like from the interviewee's side of the camera!

For the next round of questions, we rode our bicycles on the Springwater Corridor path. Joe displayed unique juggling talents by riding a bike with cargo buckets full of lighting equipment on the back while managing somewhat unwieldy camera equipment around his unique ape-hanger handlebar set up.

The unplanned, and potentially best, portion of the interview happened after a loud pop indicated a dramatic flat on Joe's bike. I offered to fix it for him, which enabled him to continue filming and interviewing while I went to work.

I may not be famous (yet!), but days like this make me feel like I am.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hill Hill Repeats Repeats

Finally, after four whole
days off the bike, I woke
up feelin' ready.
Up, up and away!!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


This is my home!

But I've been away for three days due to being sick at "home" which is a house with a roof and several walls and all indoors.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Randonnerds Brevet #3

Cold and sick and hungry and cranky. 70 hard and hilly miles. I left my pants behind both figuratively and literally.

A quote from one of my favorite people portrayed the day perfectly: "no matter what's going on, this is where I belong - out here, riding".

Friday, November 11, 2011

On Bicycle Advocacy

I snapped my gum loudly to call the November Vancouver Bike Club meeting to order. Folks immediately quieted down and I introduced Joe Kurmaskie, author of the Metal Cowboy. Joe then introduced bicycle advocate and author of Joyride - Mia Birk, who treated us to an especially inspirational presentation.

I learned I'm one of the 1% (no, not THAT 1%!) that counts themselves as a fearless and confident cyclist who can make their way in the world on a bicycle without a ton of infrastructure to support them. I started thinking - maybe it's time I shook off my general disinterest in all things political and got more involved in helping some of the other 99% enjoy the phenomenon of bike-riding.

Another thing that got me thinking was the disappointing fact that I drove to the event. Sure, the downtown Vancouver library is 25 miles from my home, but distances like that are the norm for me. The simple truth is, I didn't bike that night because I felt uncomfortable making the long trek all alone in the dark.

The long trek all alone in the dark - what a perfect metaphor for the cyclist's place, and especially the bicycle advocate's place, in the American mainstream and traffic stream. Our towns and cities are built around the car. Many of our cultural rites of passage are built around the car. The bicycle is merely a toy for children or a work out tool for the lycra-clad.

But not in Portland, OR. Here, it's a transportation choice. It's a lifestyle. It's a staple of our economy. This didn't happen by accident - we have gutsy and patient bicycle advocates (like Mia) and advocacy groups (like the BTA) to thank. These dedicated heroes not only made our city into a model bicycle infrastructure successfully increasing bike safety and transportation, they transformed our entire culture.

However, just across the river in Washington, there seems to be a glaring shortage of involved advocates. Vancouver is so close to Portland, but so far away in terms of transportation infrastructure that supports bicycle and pedestrian safety. Vancouver is so close to Portland, unless you have to ride over the narrow I-5 bridge.

Since I began writing this post, I've been approached by some local players who want to help ignite the advocacy scene in Vancouver. We'll be meeting next week. Maybe this is just the opportunity I've been looking for to "make a difference". This time, I'll make the long trek all alone in the dark. Except I won't be alone, I'll have my bike with me.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My Miyata, Part Cinque

For the fifth official butter beater session, I removed the second bad fork and crown race.

Drilled a larger hole in the new fork to accommodate the recessed nut brake caliper.
Cut the steerer tube. And reinstalled. Voila!
Next week I plan to install the brakes and be ready to ride! I still need handlebars but have high hopes. And hairspray.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cyclocross Spectation

Since Sunday's Cross Crusade Race was in Barton Park, I thought I better ride the KISS bike. I mean, it's totally flat and my friend is hurt and wants me to go slow so a single speed's the best bike for the job. Wrong! There were a jillion huge mountainous hills between my house and Barton Park. The kind of big, steep hills that make you giggle at their relentlessness.
On arriving, I rode through steep gravelly unpaved sections without flinching and without putting a foot down (insert applause here). Then a steep run-up to the ridge, where I gracelessly used all fours to get to the top (insert heckling here). Finally, shoes caked in mud, decided to call it done (insert cowbells here).

And this was just the spectating experience - I don't race CX! But I love to watch it. Every time I see one of these crazy races, which my dad refers to as "Cage Fighting on Bikes", I gain new respect for these riders and their pure badassness.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Randonneur vs Alley Cat

Just like an alley cat, there were small entry fees to pay, mandatory checkpoints, clues to find and a "ready-set-go" start. But instead of a 20 mile race through city streets at night, jeans bursting with u-locks in pockets, we rode 65 daytime miles in a rainbow of fluorescent jackets. I opted for a tutu and bright blue eyeshadow - a fashion statement befitting Brer Karnickel.
Winding roads on rolling hills with foggy views took us out to Snoozeville, where we found a green tent containing much-needed hot cocoa (instead of PBRs). I have ridden through or to or in Snoozeville a few times now and still don't know where or what it is.
Unlike an Alley Cat, this Populaire was not a race. That's what they kept telling me anyway, as I madly tabulated my placement. In the end, I beat the time cut-off by an hour forty. And Elly met her goal of Lanterne Rouge (last one in!).

Friday, November 4, 2011

Messenger Lane

Rode over to meet Matt at the bar last night so I could return his messenger bag, which is so gigantic it slides off my shoulders.

He's seeing Richie next week in California. I searched the stuff I had with me for something to send with him and chose to part with my pink and red Castelli cap. I put a lipstick print on the inside and signed it with sharpie.

We talked about dead friends. His friend who had a heart attack during a crit. My friend who died of AIDs fifteen years ago. Friends hit by cars. Friends who killed themselves. The last time we each saw Pokey before he hung himself and how he used to dress up as Hitler on his birthday.

This is only kind of related to bikes in that most of the friends we've lost were hit by cars in traffic. That's the curse of being a messenger, even if all your deliveries are to memory lane.

Amazingly, moments after I published above, a friend posted photos from the old days, including ones of people Matt and I just talked about. Also, there's one of me, from behind, third page bottom left. I was 30% larger then than I am now. Go to the link on the right called Messenger Pix to view.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Imagine my delight on waking to a clear blue sky instead of the expected rain and drear. Up, out, over and up to my favorite butte. All the way up the gravel finish and back down without putting a foot down. Pretty posh.