Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Lunch at Nick's

Randonneur riding requires riders to present a brevet card to baristas, waiters, corner store cashiers, and even gas station clerks.  Every recipient of my "abbreviated intro to brevet-card-signing" has expressed amazement, encouragement, congratulations, or at least a polite nod, while they quickly jot their initials and time on my card.  Many appear to feel like co-conspirators in what must sound like a crazy long distance bike race to them.

When I began writing write this post, I planned to detail the first-ever exception to this rule: hostility and negativity doled out by a certain male clerk at a certain market in a certain northern town near some certain plains. Instead, I'll tell you I'm proud to be banned for life from a place where using the water, even as a paying customer, is an offense worthy of calling the police.

Now, onto the good, which really ruled the day.  Four of us braved the cold that morning.  And when I say cold, I'm talking about negative 13 degrees celcius (that's 9 degrees farenheit for you Americans).  Riders ran the gamut from Super Randonneur to brand-spanking-new Rando to R12 recipient to R12 seeker.  Laura, Jeff, and Graham had never met before, so it was a big privilege to introduce them and witness what a strong and evenly-paced team we made. 
You can't go on a ride this brisk without discussing gear.  All four sported muffs, or neck-warmers, which were fluffy with frost by our first control.  Two sported lobster gloves, which are great for Spock-lovers.  I enjoyed three hats and taped helmet vents, along with a new down jacket.  We were all generally warm enough as long as we kept moving, although we all shared in frozen toe phenomena.

A spectacular sunrise show, featuring bright salmon-speckled clouds, lasted only a moment.  We saw a good amount of birds, big and small, and wondered more than once if these little critters suffer in the cold.  A few cows and several chickens later, we split into girls and boys. I helped my team miss the turn at Laughlin, adding five miles to our day.
Stag Hollow's gravel was thin and the hard-packed dirt felt a lot like pavement.  We were chased by dogs a couple of times, but they were small and cute.  No Molly Mayhems on today's route.  Rolling into McMinnville, we spied a couple bundled bicyclists with a baby in tow.  We spent a nice warm while enjoying a fancy lunch at Nick's Italian Cafe - after all, this permanent is named "Lunch at Nick's".

Warmed up, tummies full, we began the return route.  Spring Hill Road is an old favorite and found me reminiscing about past rides.  Who could forget the info control at Laughlin on a recent brevet?  Or that one time a missed turn at night on Ribbon Ridge cost us an extra eight miles.  Ducking into the shade of an idle tractor to escape the summer heat.  Those were the days. 

Finally rolling into Multnomah Village, we arranged our bikes in the lobby of the Lucky Lab and toasted our success with a post-ride beer.  It felt as though two weeks had passed since we set out.  Intense days like this are so dense with experiences, time compresses into a tiny little nugget you can tuck into your head to reminisce on some future ride

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

BikeCraft 2013

Spending fifteen minutes every morning for several months adds up!  That's how I was able to produce a nice tall stack of home-made buddy flaps, each with a reflective accent.  I also "produced" a giant baggie full of painted valve covers and over a dozen Bum-Ease pillows.

When I attended BikeCraft last year, I never dreamed I'd have my very own booth this year.  BikeCraft is a weekend-long show that happens in Portland every December and features local artisans (and craftisans!) and their wares.  Products range from very finished-looking panniers created by local businesses to little crafty bits created by little crafty folk like me. 

I saw bike jewelry, bike tire belts, bike chain belt buckles, glass art with images of bikes screen-printed in, caps, caps and more caps (all beautiful), kinetic art, books and zines - you name it!  I was a bit nervous the first morning.  After all, although I have made stuff for myself (or my bikes) over the years, I'd never set up a booth at a show like this.

The ride over was precarious with a gigantic messenger bag full of stuff on my back.  But, I made it to the venue, Velocult, by 10:30am and found my booth space.  It was perfect!  Not too near the door, since I have ice-blood.  Right around the corner from the bathroom, as my belief in constant hydration has its price.  My next step was to find the table I rented.  Then, table decor time!  I tossed a maroon and pink Christmasy tablecloth (made by my mother) onto the table, then displayed my wares.
Set up was completed just in time. I was especially happy with the signs, which were a craft event of their own, created with a young friend of mine. The crowd flow felt constant, and just right. I didn't have a single boring moment. Soon, it was time for my young friend and her mother to fill in for me, so I could head out to Alley Cross. Alley Cross is a combination of alley cat racing - my favorite type, and cyclocross - my newest.

There were around 30 racers in attendance and we enjoyed a Le Mans start. That means we laid our bikes down and walked a good clip away to wait for the starting whistle. Then everyone scrambled to get on their bikes. What better time for a cyclocross style mount! We raced over to a park, which was set up just like a genuine CX race, complete with flags, run-ups and even barriers. An organizer announced the bell lap to each racer, then we scooted back to the start.

There by the registration table, was a huge mound of winter clothing earmarked for a local shelter. This was the race registration fee. And next to that, a big pile of prizes, including some donated by my own company.  Prizes ran three deep (that means first, second & third place) for four categories (juniors, women, men, last place).

One quick beer, a shouted announcement about the show, and I rode back to my booth. My sweat dried soon enough and I proudly kept my number pinned on for the remainder of the day.  I had just broken even before leaving for the race, so everything from here on out was profit.  I decided to spend all of my profit, every last cent, on items from other booths.  Everything there was beautifully made, useful, novel, and supported another small artisan. Day two was slower, but I was still having fun.  I lost a few games of chess while (wo-)manning my booth, enjoyed a beer, and perfected my sales pitch. 

Here's my spiel. Contact me at bicyclekitty@gmail.com if you're interested in purchasing anything.
  • Buddy Flaps: "Sure, your fender keeps you and your butt dry, but what about your friend behind you?  Buddy flaps are lightweight and stiff, add visibility to your ride, and go on with a single zip tie. $6 each, $10 per pair.
  • Pillows:Vinyl on one side and cotton on the other; a must-have accessory for Pedalpalooza rides and loaded touring. They guarantee a warm, dry place to sit wherever you go. $15 each.
  • Embellished Valve Caps: can be used for more than covering your tube valves. One small customer taught me that they can also come in handy as "fairy cups". $1.00 per pair.