Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Local Legends

The day started with a mechanical, on the MAX train.  Apparently the train's brakes wouldn't stop stopping, so several riders had to ride from Beaverton to Hillsboro while the rest of us hung around Maggie's Buns eating pastries and drinking coffee.  When we rolled out, the head count was ten guys, two chicks.  I had invited the other chick, Erinne, who is a fun and strong rider.  She made it to the top of the massive gravel climb first.
I first met Erinne on this road, the Trask River Road, in 2012 during the Velodirt Rapture, which I rode twice.  The first year, I took my road bike with 32mm tires, and the second year I rode my "vintage" fully rigid 26" wheel mountain bike.  The latter was like riding a couch, so I opted for that steed on this latest adventure.
The second, and third, and fourth and fifth mechanicals all happened on the Trask River road.  There just comes a point where skinny tires lose out when confronted with lots of chunky sharp gravel.  I did notice that the rim tape had a sharp seam and used some pink duct tape to cover it.  Maybe that helped.  The impressive part was the 13 year old kid riding the bike with the multiple flats, his strong legs and good attitude under duress.
Also impressive is the gentleman in orange pictured above.  He rode a fixed gear and had a spare cog strapped to his saddle bag, along with a full sized chain whip strapped to his top tube.  At the top and bottom of each major climb, he'd pull over and change out his gearing.  He never coasted, and he never complained.

By the time we got close to the brew pub in Tillamook, the headwind had started in earnest.  Erinne and I worked together, or, well, okay she pulled me the entire time, and we finally made it to beer.  The Bike Concierge was right on time to scoop us all up and take us back to points east.  

I really appreciated the thorough ride leadering, support, planning, pre-ride communication and route details offered by our organizer.  Cheers, Gugie.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Us Versus Them

Photo credit: Keith Olenslager
I've been thinking a lot lately about two types of behavior: rolling coal and the human chain.

Rolling coal, in case you're unfamiliar, is when a vehicle with a diesel engine, usually a large pick up truck or SUV, deliberately spews black toxic fumes at bicyclists.  Yes, deliberately.  These fumes are toxic, especially to those humans who use their lungs in athletic pursuits like cycling.

The human chain is from a story I heard that took place at a Florida beach.  A couple had been out swimming and got caught by the rip tide.  They had been pulled out quite a ways and were in deep trouble.  The onlookers at the beach, all strangers, linked together to form a human chain and saved the couple's lives.  This is some top level human heroism.

I've experienced both types of behavior on rides.  The rolling coal phenomena, which should be pictured next to the word "sociopath" in the dictionary, is dangerous.  It is extreme bullying.  There's an imbalance of power (and intelligence) when a diesel truck, weighing in at approximately 2000 pounds, veers at, revs their engine and blows fumes at a 150 pound human atop a 25 pound bicycle.

If I ever met one of these drivers, I'd dare them to ride a bike, but I suspect they wouldn't even if they could.  I can't help but wonder though, if they read the story about the human chain, would they count themselves as one of the heroic types who would've taken part in that rescue?
Photo credit: Keith Olenslager
On the human chain side of things, most drivers I encounter slow down and go around.  Some motorists will even stop to check on cyclists doing roadside repairs, or offer water.  Cycling acquaintances are totally willing to ruin their ride to spend all day fixing seven flats with me.  Friends are willing to drop everything and come rescue me when an eighth flat will destroy me.  Pro tip: always check your rim tape when installing new tires.