Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Head Honjo

I abandoned. Yes, me. Six hours and half a fender later, I put these beautifully hammered fenders on Craig's List.

And I put these black plastic ones on my newly-built Miyata, affectionately known as Butter. It only took an hour, cost me $20 and they're quietly terrific.

Monday, January 30, 2012

2012 Bicycle Experience Art Show

Now this is what I think of when I think of Art. Art that interests me (because it's bikey!). Art you can touch. Unpretentious kinetic art you can play on!

The artiste (on left).

A view from my side of the BMX see-saw!

Jonathon playing.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

BCC asks VBC for CCC-like help

Eric Giacchino from Bike Clark County has a vision. He'd like the Bike Smart/Bike Safe program in Vancouver, Washington to enjoy the same sort of success the Community Cycling Center has experienced in Portland, Oregon. To that end, he is on a quest for a 1000-2000 square foot, heated and securable work space.

The existing bicycle training fleet could be stored and maintained there for the school programs. Donated bicycles from the Waste Connections recycle program and the Police and Sheriff's seized bicycles could be repaired there and given back out to the community.

Eric says he can easily collect the needed work stands and tools. Trained volunteer mechanics would supervise other volunteers who might like to help or learn how to work on bikes. He's working on several grants that would provide more stands, tools, work benches, parts, shelves etc.

A donated space or one with discounted rent would be ideal. An empty military building on the Fort Vancouver Barracks or an empty commercial building on Fourth Plain would be very cool, but almost any place big enough will work for now.

So, please, put on your thinking caps! You can contact Eric at giacchino1831@comcast.net.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Forest Park

An old college friend was in town who I haven't seen in 20 years. We were out doing Portlandy things and drinking beer until around 10pm when I saw a facebook post announcing an early morning ride the next day.

I began typing a detailed message about why I couldn't possibly go, listing my many excuses. I deleted the response and RSVP'd yes instead. That's how I found myself at dark o'clock, heading out with four others over the Saint John's Bridge and up to Forest Park.

I was pretty squeamish about riding both Saltzman and Leif Erikson on the same day in the mud, but need some more non-paved miles under my belt before the first Velodirt ride. I'd only ridden Saltzman one other time, going downhill in the dark after 110 miles. This time felt pleasantly easy.

Leif was much harder. Going down, my hands tired from squeezing the brakes and my jaw sore from rattling, it felt never-ending. Jonathon Maus, well-known blogger and tough ass cyclist, would bomb ahead so he could stop and take photos. At one point, he passed me as I sang to myself. He told me he thought I was singing from enjoyment when actually I was reminiscing a lullaby my mother used to sing to me.

To my immense delight, Jonathon reported our ride on his blog for all of Portland to see. He even featured a photo of me taking a photo of him. To read Jonathon's article, copy and paste into your browser:


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bald Peak Bad-Assery

Re-ran BS number one on Sunday. The entire day was like a heavy metal video, featuring a posse of eight rock-star riders. Our band name would be the Bald Peak Bad Asses. Dude, did you see the latest video from BPBA? The howling gusty wind, the pouring rain, the thick fog and the relentless gravel-ly climb. Classic!
Zoomed in to see just how cold and miserable I was.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Le Toast Française

Ever since I completed my first Randonneur Permanent, I've become très français ("very French"). Everyday American activities, like baking cookies, going to the mall and watching ball sports on TV, feel not-so-suddenly blasé or "boring" to me.

This feeling includes the old French toast route. But I do love having people over for breakfast. Dinner parties are so de rigeur (whatever the heck that means). So, to keep the ride alive, Saturday featured a new, improved and reinvented forty mile route.

The day seemed doomed to failure as one after another, friends called with regrets. A rainy forecast seemed to sealed the deal and delivered only one (1!) Vancouver Bike Club rider to my doorstep. But then, little by little, friends trickled in until we had six.

The rain never did more than spit on us as we enjoyed a warm sunny day that had me yelling "summer!" more than once. The new route offers a hill climb option and to my pride and delight, riders voted unanimously to go up. Here's a nice picture of Frank in a borrowed helmet at the top of the hill and notorious "pants drop" corner.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Rainy Rainy Rain Rain

20 miles of beautifully warm and soggy riding was actually enjoyable after the past few days of the icy slushy sketch-fest that is snow-riding.

Thursday mornings I ride with Helen: tough cookie and life coach. We seem to be casually bartering bicycle coaching for life coaching. I am as dumb about how to live my life as I am knowledgeable about how to ride a bike, so it's a nice trade.

As we rode through the pouring rain over the floating dock on the somewhat high waters of the Willamette River, it reminded me of a wet watery ride in a different time and place. I will take you there now, through the power of blog.


San Francisco Bay Area. Winter of '98. An El Nino winter. Relentlessly pouring rain and your author - me, posing as a lonely lowly bike messenger on slick city streets. (insert musical underscore of your choosing here)

Crrrrrrkkkk. That's what static on my old brick radio sounded like. My dispatcher, Danny Red Hot, sending me from downtown to South of Market (aka SOMA - hey, that's the name of my bike, too!) and then out to North Beach.

Young rookie that I was, I had already mastered the "longcut". The messenger longcut works much like a shortcut in any other line of work. The gist of it is that the long way is often quicker (after calculating certain variables like elevation gain, traffic patterns and wind direction).

So. Off I went to my pick-up South of Market. Checked 10-8, then embarked on a longcut 'round the Embarcadero with a plan to cut west after Pier 9 or so.

Mother Nature was sad that day. She cried and cried until Old Man Wind joined her blow for blow. As I rode under the Bay Bridge, the white waves from the bay were madly lapping up and over the sidewalk and benches and into the gutter.

There comes a point of no return in certain scenarios. Pedaling through waves as high as your bottom bracket, high enough to fill your water bottle even, is not one of these times. There was no way to turn back and nowhere to hide.

So, I forged ahead, at one with the bay and my bike and the rain. It was glorious and one of my absolute favorite moments on a bike.

Bikey Meetings

This is what I do when I'm not riding my bike. Last night's Portland Society board meeting felt like a Portlandia skit, in the very best way. So much exciting stuff on the horizon!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Crushed = Dangerous

If Major Taylor-style track bars get crushed in the center, a rider could get seriously hurt.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Honjo Fenders

Fenders are not a mechanical part of the bicycle but they are, by far, the most challenging item to install. It took two of us three hours to get one fender done!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

KHS Track Bike

(Tenth in a series of stories about every bike I've ever owned.)
My bike hero and mentor, Erik Zo, sold me a steel track bike for $250. I accidentally paid him $300, so he left the bottom bracket, seatpost, and stem on and bought me like 100 beers. He used to lead a monthly fixed wheel ride in the 90s (he abhorred the term fixed gear) that ended with beer at the golf club in Golden Gate Park. This ride inspired my annual Caddyshack ride. The above picture is of the fixed wheel gang at our duel point rest stop, with Erik in the back holding his bike up.

I put many knee-breaking miles on this little silver bike in hilly San Francisco and even earned some street cred messengering on it. A lesson I learned during this time period is "if you can't stop, turn!". I also had the privilege of racing on a wooden figure eight bridge & tunnel track called the Human Powered Roller Coaster. I performed horribly but won "best in show", probably because I wore a dress and heels during the race (pictured below).

Monday, January 9, 2012

Larch Mountain Snow Ninjas

Some rides come together perfectly and effortlessly. Next to no planning. No cue sheets or maps. Just a couple of invites and the 4 most awesome riders show up. 5 if you count me!
Sadly, I didn't get a photo of Frank, who was enjoying a rare lycra-clad day.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Columbia River Crossing Mega Highway Project

Notes (and my opinions) from a presentation made by Mara Gross of the Coalition for a Livable Future.

The CRC is the most expensive project ($3.6 BILLION!) in our region's history and can literally reshape the region, especially the northern area. However, the current plans will not lead to a safe, more active, healthy climate and will be budget-unfriendly to other projects.

The plan is to expand the I-5 freeway between Portland and Vancouver, adding more interchanges, light rail and bike/ped access. The plan fosters low density sprawl development, making walking and biking in the area difficult. The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) dropped out of the planning process because they weren't being heard - human access will be far from ideal (below vehicular bridge, hard to get to/from, polluted, loud).

The current bridge is structurally sound. The assumption is that improvements are needed because rush hour traffic is a nightmare. In reality this is mostly due to too many interchanges. Traffic has flattened over the last decade, but the assumption is that traffic will increase, which will be true if an expanded freeway is built. Adding light rail (1/4 of the cost of the whole project!) and improving bike/ped access are included, but seemingly as leverage to win popularity and approval.

The decision makers are the Oregon and Washington Departments of Transportation, but it's a federal project. Metro (our regional government) and the City of Portland recently gave their official approval on the plan.

Here's a great quote from the federally-required Environmental Impact Statement (EIS): "Because the CRC project is currently in the conceptual design phase, it is not possible to draw conclusions about the reasonableness of all potential measures to minimize harm." Wow. They forgot to mention that the new freeway would run through and over quiet and quaint downtown Vancouver and really screw up the livability there with traffic, pollution, noise and poor air quality.

Funding will come from tolls, federal government, Oregon and Washington. The tolls would use congestion pricing, meaning it costs more to cross during busy times, balancing traffic by discouraging driving at peak times. Each state will pay $450M, probably from gas taxes. Income from this tax has been decreasing due to less driving and better fuel efficiency, so the tax would need to be raised. Also, the State Treasurer believes the budget forecast is off by 1/2 a billion. That's $500 million!

Who stands to gain from the project? Consultants have already gained $150 million in fees, even though there hasn't been any actual physical work. The freight business thinks they can gain on the logic that bigger roads = more big trucks. Construction labor thinks they can gain, but the project is not sustainable in the sense of creating long-term jobs.

This project is nowhere near a "done deal". We have the power to fight it, each one of us. We can do that by keeping the CRC controversial, which makes government officials less likely to support it, especially as it becomes clear how risky the funding is and that it will more likely hurt our economy than help it.

We can create an opening for a better plan. Like designing the project in stages instead of spending so much at once. Keeping the local bridge to Hayden Island instead of building a $500 million interchange there. Leaving the current bridge as local and building a new I-5 bridge over Hayden Island. Adding a congestion-based toll now to thin traffic and raise funds for a different version of the project.

How do we fight this?
- Keep the CRC in casual conversation.
- Approach from the angle of funding and losing money for other projects instead of from an environmental or bicycle-friendly agenda.
- If you see a blog post about it, submit a comment (here's your chance!)
- Write a couple of sentences to the OpEd at the Oregonian (letters@oregonian.com)
- Contact mara@clfuture.org to receive a transportation newsletter and action alerts to write legislation.
- If you live in an effected neighborhood, get involved with your neighborhood association.
- Inform any clubs or organizations you're involved with about the project.
- Join Bike. Walk. Vote. to get politicians to hear your voice (check out their facebook page for more details)
- Let's use the Portland mayoral race to expose the issue. Go to Portland transport.org to hear KBOO archived shows interviewing mayoral candidates from a transportation standpoint.
- Attend the Portland mayoral forum on transportation at PSU on February 6th at 7pm! Imagine a bike pile out front and our voices being heard inside!

Thanks for reading and good luck!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Randonneur Rookie Wrung Out

Ready or not, I planned to ride in David Parson's Volcanoes vs. Farmland 200K permanent route Monday 1/2/12. Turns out I was ready. Not just from all the riding I've been doing, but all the places I've been riding. This day was a combination of many other days, in many ways.

We left Sellwood at 7am and after a few dark miles, the sunrise began its dramatic but short sky show. At this point, your blogger, #7337, was accompanied by Rando Riders Theo and Michael and an anonymous journalist who was not allowed to help. He pointed out the paradox of a rule preventing help in a sport known for participants' helpfulness and all around good samaritan atmosphere.

Our first control point was in Oregon City, a destination from a late winter ride last year. We all madly took out our cards and answered the clue. It felt enchantingly alley catty. Several hills to daylight and the next control point out near Barton Park, where I had ridden last fall to watch a CX race. A quick snack and water refill and riders darted off.

Then Canby, where we puzzled how we'd cross the river. I recalled a ride from Canby to Salem just last month. Champoeg Park, where I've eaten monster cookies mid-ride several times. Through Newburg, Gaston, Cornelius - all towns the Randonneurds took me last fall. Then North Plains, where November's Populaire ride stopped.

Getting punchy, I killed time creating endurance metaphors. The worst - boiling water for endurance jello. The best - putting my parakeet in a cage and taking the elevator down to mine endurance ore. Misty, cold, hot, hungry, wet and tired, we took a much-needed break at the Rogue Brew Pub. Delicious beer control point.

Renewed, we rode through Helvetia, then up Skyline. Sunset. Still climbing Skyline. Quads screaming. Finally, Saltzman for a dark 10 mile wooded descent on some unpaved surface. Too tired to be completely scared. Highway 30 back to town, Esplanade and back to Sellwood at last.

Two tired campers, 11 hours and 11 minutes start-to-finish. Beer, burgers, bed. My dreams were in old film style showing a flickery black and white moi, wearing my tres francais bonjour cap, shaking hands with the head guy in Paris while he wrote my name in a big red book half a story tall.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


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

Here I am awaiting the start of the infamous 1998 4th of July alley cat race on my first road bike and first Miyata. I paid a mere $100 for this light and fast red ten speed. I found it at the Mill Valley bike swap, took it home and wrapped the bars with pink Benoto tape.

I raced on this bike, had my first 5000 mile year on it, toured with it and became a messenger with it. I ended up trading it for a different Miyata after learning during a fitting that a 56cm bike was way too big for me. I cried when I learned I couldn't ride it anymore.