Coffeeneuring Ride No. 7, A Bi-State Adventure: 19 Nov 2014

Oregon Thanks You.

Hello there, viewers! It’s the end of Coffeeneuring Challenge 2014! Woo-hoo! If you’ve followed my coffeeneuring exploits over the past two years, you know I always try to aim for “interesting” in my coffeeneuring rides. While others may approach coffeeneuring as it’s randonneuring and go on long rides (yet always end up at a Starbucks, albeit a different Starbucks), I try to do something a bit different with each ride. (Emphasis on “try”.) This year I wanted my last ride to be something I hadn’t done yet, so I opted to go Coffeeneuring in Vancouver, Washington. Yes, crossing state lines!

While on paper that sounds really impressive, it really isn’t, as downtown Vancouver is about five miles from my house. Of course the big hurdle into any bi-state adventure is the Columbia River. There are only two crossings in the metro area, both present some issues when it comes to bikes, but they are still doable. Still, it’s enough of a hurdle that I usually aim southward into inner Portland than north into The Couve.

Yes, The Couve, the affectionate nickname of Vancouver, Washington. It does help differentiate it from Vancouver, British Columbia, the bigger, more well-known of the two. (But anyone from The Couve will be quick to tell you that Vancouver, WA came first, and it’s true.)* Some people in Portland have a low opinion of The Couve (and pretty much any suburb of Portland), but I actually like Vancouver. Since it’s the oldest town in the region, it has a feeling of being a “place”. Yes, there is lots and lots of sprawl around it, but the central core of Vancouver is chock-a-block with bungalows and small business districts.

I took off from my house in the afternoon on Wednesday, November 19, and headed north towards the Columbia. Once I get about 1/2 mile from my house, the ride to the Interstate Bridge is primarily on bike paths or roads cutting through parks, so it’s pretty peaceful. (Besides the noise from nearby I-5, of course.) Approaching the bridge across the Oregon Channel, the part of the Columbia River separating the mainland from Hayden/Tomahawk Island, I took a detour onto the undeveloped and unofficial path along the levee. Part of this goes through private development. While I have heard of other folks getting yelled at, I had no issues.

Then back towards the Interstate Bridge. The Hayden Island/Jantzen Beach crossing is the trickiest part of the ride, as one has to cut across an off ramp. One of these days, they’re supposed to “fix” this, but I’m not holding my breath. The sidewalk along the Interstate Bridge is narrow, just about three feet at its narrowest parts, so not the most fun ride (especially with freeway traffic a few more feet away), but the great view of Mount Hood over the Columbia River makes up for the short-comings.

Finally, Vancouver! Instead of going straight to downtown, I detoured east and went by the old replica of Fort Vancouver from the Hudson Bay days (complete with Union Jack flying overhead, see we’re in Canada!) and through the more modern American barracks, most of which are maintained by the National Parks Service. (A National Park just five miles from my house? Yep!)**

Now it’s time to find coffee. My first choice was the cafe in the very new and swanky library building (Five floors! Open layout! Big windows!) but the cafe had closed a half-hour before I had arrived. So I headed to Torque Coffee for a cup of house brew. Nothing fancy, but hey, I crossed a state line today! Then after coffee it was beer at Loowit, then wine at Niche. Not a bad Vancouver day.

And then I got to “kiss” a llama! How many other coffeneurs can say that!

And so ends the 2014 Coffeeneuring Challenge for me. Seven rides, seven different locations, all fun.

COFFEENEURING RIDE SEVEN, Wednesday 19 November 2014

  • Coffeeneuring Destination: Torque Coffee, Columbia St at W 5th. Vancouver WA
  • Bike: 1984 Raleigh Crested Butte
  • Length of ride: 18 miles round-trip
  • Type of coffee: whatever Torque’s house brew is
  • States involved: Oregon, Washington

*Vancouver, WA grew from Fort Vancouver, a Hudson’s Bay trading post established in 1824. Vancouver, BC was established in the 1870′s. Yes, technically both started out as Canadian settlements.

**Yeah, DC residents, I know, not impressive to you. But tell me how many volcanoes you can see from your fair city.

A Chehalem Range Ramble, Sat 22 Nov 2014

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adventurepdx:

Just a reminder: this is happening SATURDAY! Weather is not as good as I hoped it would, but it could be worse. Expect temps around 50F and some rain. PLEASE RSVP ME if you are intending on going! You can just leave a comment to RSVP.

Originally posted on Urban Adventure League:

I’ve been thinking about doing a grander ramble that is still easily accessible to the Portland Metro Area (read: can start/end by transit) for awhile. I managed to snag Saturday November 22nd off from work, so what better time than then?

This ramble explores the backroads of Washington and Yamhill Counties, west and south of Portland proper. The big feature of the ride is the Chehalem Range, a small mountain range running northwest-southeast in the greater Willamette Valley, dividing the Tualatin and Yamhill Valleys. The ride will go up and over the range twice, hitting up the highest point in the mountain range, Bald Peak at 1,629 ft (497 m).

The ride mostly follows quiet country roads, with a decent amount of dirt/gravel and some pretty good climbs over the Chehalem Range. Supplies can be picked up in the start in Hillsboro. We’ll also pass through Gaston which has a store and cafe…

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Celebrated Summer comic

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A comic I did for Bicycle Times magazine, issue 31.

This one goes to eleven.

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I tell ya, sometimes living in Portland gets me down. The rising price of housing, the threat of a Cascadia Subduction earthquake, the TV show Portlandia, and lack of Dunkin’ Donuts. It adds up. But sometimes, sometimes living in Portland can be great. And Sunday reminded me of Portland’s greatness.

Portland has had a great free box culture for as long as I’ve lived here. Piles of free stuff in boxes, on the parking strip, mainly during the summer months (for obvious reasons), but also at other times of years. I’ve scored some amazing finds from Portland’s free boxes over the years. But possibly nothing as great as I found on Sunday.

As I was riding through SE after work, I spotted a free box. At first I noticed shirts sticking out of the box, standard free box fare.* But as I passed, I noticed a couple bicycle wheels next to the box. This isn’t unusual in Portland, but what was unusual was the big black hub spotted on one of them. Big hub can either mean internal gears, a dynamo, or possibly both.

I stopped to examine the wheel. The wheel itself was ok, though a few broken spokes. But on the hub body was written Alfine, a Shimano offering. An internally geared hub, since there was no wiring connection. Too big to be a three speed, so either an eight or eleven speed.

Really? Who would leave a wheel like this by a free box? I was flabbergasted. At first I put the wheel down, thinking, “Nah.” But I picked it up again. A hub like this would be too good to pass up, and I’d kick myself later if I didn’t grab this!

Thankfully, I was riding my Crested Butte with the front basket, so carting it home wasn’t an issue. As I was strapping the wheel into the basket, a gent was heading into the house by the free box. “You made a good score”, he said, with what sounded like an Aussie accent.

“Yeah, was this yours?” I responded.

It was. He was in haste to leave the country, something about visa problems, so he needed to part with stuff fast. He confirmed that that it’s an eleven speed (score!) and mentioned that the hub might need to be rebuilt because it had issues “shifting under load”. Of course, this probably means shifting while pedalling, which is something you are not supposed to do with IGHs.

In any case, even if the hub needs work, it would be a hell of a lot cheaper than buying a new one, as the retail price for one is about seven hundred dollars, not including the wheel. As for the spokes and rims, well, that can all be replaced and rebuilt.

So there you go. I managed to score one of the most sophisticated internally geared hubs for absolutely nothing, and it was just sitting on the side of the street! Can you do that in your town?

Now I just need to find a bike that it will go on…

*To note: I did grab three shirts.

More stuff with the Heavy Duti.

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Ah yes, the Heavy Duti! I haven’t really talked about the Schwinn Heavy Duti here  since I purchased it in the beginning of October. That’s because it languished in the basement for most of October as I was focused on other things. But over the past couple weeks, I’ve had a number of things done to it, to make it more “mine”.

  • Handlebars, etc: Found some used Wald steel bars that were a bit wider (28 inches) than the extant ones. I took the old grips off and added those black semi-cork grips. And of course a classic Chinese rotating bell!
  • Basket: If my Wald Giant Delivery Basket is appropriate for any bike, it would be for a classic balloon-tire cruiser. So on it went!
  • Tires: Speaking of balloon tire, while the extant tires were fine, I knew that I wanted to change it up. I was on the lookout for some whitewalls, but managed to score a set of Schwalbe Fat Franks for a really low price! At 60mm (2.35″) wide, they are definitely fat tires!
  • Drivetrain: The bike came with an 18 tooth rear cog, but I wanted lower gearing, so I had it swapped with a 22 tooth cog I happened to have. A new chain went on as well.
  • Saddle: That old saddle was beat, so I threw on my old Brooks B-66 saddle instead.

And that’s about it! I don’t want this bike to become too much of a project. I don’t want to get all crazy with it. So I don’t want to go down the road of new wheels or multiple speeds and all that. Though there’s a couple things I still want to do. I want to rebuild the pedals with new blocks, and get a longer seatpost, as I’m maxing out the extant one and feel like I can use a little more height.

Since getting the bike fixed up, I’ve ridden it around a bunch in the last week, and have loved it. Honestly, I didn’t think I’d like the bike this much, since the whole idea of the Heavy Duti was to have a “clunker”. But I’ve commuted to work a few times, and found it to not be as slow as I thought, though by no means is this a “fast” bike. Lowering the gearing definitely helped. With the 48/22 configuration, I have a gear inch of 57 inches, great for around town and not bad up hills. And I’ve definitely climbed a few hills with this thing! The generous width of the handlebars helps when I do have to get out of the saddle on a climb.

And there’s something beautiful about the simplicity of it all. I like the fact that I have a single-speed bike again, though this is way different than my last single-speed, the Centurion Le Mans 70′s road bike. There’s no cable clutter since the only brake is the coaster brake. I know, I know, coaster brakes aren’t the greatest, and there’s no redundant braking if I somehow snap the chain or the brake strap holding the reaction arm in place. (And yes, that’s already happened since the old strap was way rusted.) It takes a little while to get used to braking by backpedalling. But it doesn’t take long, as that’s what I grew up using!

It’s already proved its ability to haul stuff. This past week I did a pretty good store run at Fred Meyer, and then dropped off a lot of donations at the Community Cycling Center. And I’m sure I’ll find more use for it in the coming months…

An errandenuring type of Coffeeneuring (No. 6): 11 November 2014

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How’s that first Arctic Blast for you, much of northern North America? While we here in the Northwest haven’t gotten the foot-plus of snow that has hit places like Minneapolis (who is better than Portland!), we’ve gotten some cool weather over here with highs just in the 40′s and lotsa wind. Tuesday night saw the first frost of the season, and tonight (Wednesday the 12th), there’s a possibility we’ll see snow! While the thermometer dipping below freezing isn’t uncommon for us in November,* wintry precipitation is. In the 13 years I’ve lived here, I don’t think that’s happened before!

Anyway, Tuesday was a brilliantly sunny, but chilly and very windy day for a Coffeeneuring adventure, but goldarnit, I was going to do it! And this time, a different bike: The Schwinn Heavy Duti, it’s inaugural coffeeneuring run! And the Wald Giant Delivery Basket (originally on the Crested Butte) is good to haul big and awkward stuff. So, errandeneuring as well!

First, off to the Community Cycling Center on NE Alberta Street, one of Portland’s non-profit bike shops, to drop off some donations. I have amassed quite the collection of used tires, so I wanted to get rid of them, along with a few other random parts. The Giant Delivery Basket came in handy for that awkward load, and I deposited the goods at CCC. While on Alberta, I dropped of a package to be shipped via UPS and also picked up a few things at the Alberta Co-op.

Then off to N Mississippi to swing by North Portland Bikeworks about ordering a part. I continued westward (convenient, since the wind is coming out of the east) over I-5 and had a burrito (burritoneuring?) at La Bonita on N Killingsworth. Since it was so close, I made an obligatory stop at the Dead Madrona Tree on Rivendell Ridge and admired what was left of the fall colors on the Willamette Bluffs.

Enough of the errands, now coffee! If I were a bit hardier, I would have done Coffee Outside and tested the ability of my Trangia 27 Stormcooker set to handle such wind. But I also wanted to draw while drinking coffee, so I preferred to go to a coffee shop instead. So I headed to the Arbor Lodge cafe on N Rosa Parks Way in the Arbor Lodge neighborhood, had some house coffee, and drew.

Soon it was time to go home. I swung by the New Seasons for some more provisions, then headed homeward into the wind.

COFFEENEURING/ERRANDENEURING RIDE SIX, Tuesday 11 November 2014

  • Coffeeneuring Destination: Arbor Lodge, N Rosa Parks Way at N Interstate Ave
  • Bike: 1990s Schwinn Heavy Duti balloon tire industrial cruiser
  • Length of ride: 9 mile round-trip
  • Type of coffee: Tanager
  • For those of you who are paying attention: Yes, I’ve used every bike in my fleet so far (including one I’ve sold since the Challenge started.) Also, every destination has been in North Portland with the exception of the first one at Ainsworth State Park in the Columbia Gorge.

*Generally by now we usually have had a frost.

A weekend out at the coast.

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I just got back from a weekend out at the coast, featuring two of my favorite close-ish coastal places: Astoria, the northernmost city on the Oregon coast, and Cape Disappointment, the southermost point on the Washington coast. It was a work retreat (yes, the location was my idea) so we actually drove to and from here, rather than biking and/or busing there. It’s a bit weird to drive out here, but interesting since we took US 30 back and forth. I’ve never ridden the full length of 30 from Portland to Astoria, and for good reason: it’s busy, has a few good climbs, and is lacking in shoulders at spots.

Anyways, it was a good weekend. The weather was really nice on Saturday, though Sunday was wet. The big difference besides driving is since I was with four other people, I didn’t do my own thing. This meant that I didn’t have that much time to just bum around Astoria or along the beach. But any time at the coast is better than none!

The XO-3: Why I sold

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It happens any time I sell a bike like my Bridgestone XO-3. The comments come in: “Why did you sell? It’s such a nice bike! And you personalized it! Why sell?” And believe me, bike selling isn’t always easy here at the Urban Adventure League HQ. It’s pretty obvious that any bike that passes through my hands will get personalized my me to some degree. And most bikes I’ve owned have had some degree of sentimental attachment.

Take, for example, the Surly Long Haul Trucker. This was my first “great” bike. (The Centurion Accordo, the bike the LHT replaced, was my first “good” bike, but I destroyed it touring on it.) And my first new bike that wasn’t department store crap. I did a lot with it during the 5 1/2 years I owned it, and at one point I never thought about replacing it, let alone getting rid of it. Still, get rid of it I did. And it was still hard, even though at that point I was over the bike and onto new things. But that emotional attachment…never in my life did a bike have such meaning to me. I toured so much on it, went half-way across a continent, all that stuff. But there was also some emotional purging with the selling of the LHT, mostly because it was so tied to my life with April. April and I are cool, of course, but getting rid of it helped me move on. Still, I look at some old photos of a bike tour with the Long Haul Trucker and I get all sentimental.

While the XO-3 doesn’t have the same degree of emotional attachment, it did have some, so it was still hard to part with it. I had to make some hard decisions with bikes since I moved into my current digs almost a year ago. The sale of the Long Haul Trucker was prompted by the need for fast cash for housing expenses. The XO-3, along with the Rudge Sports, was more prompted by a need to thin the herd for future bike projects and also use the money towards other bike projects.

Since the spring, I knew I had to sell either the XO-3 or the Raleigh Crested Butte at some point. For the longest time I thought I would sell the Crested Butte, but in the last couple months I reversed the decision. I realized that the Crested Butte was too cool to part with just yet, and I wanted to do more stuff with/to it, namely, make it more mountain-bikey again. The XO-3 was as done as it was ever going to get. And while I really enjoyed having a Bridgestone, and an XO series no less, even with all the stuff I’ve done to it, it’s still just an XO-3, the bottom of the heap. If it was a later XO-3 or XO-2 with 26″ wheels, I might reconsider. But I want fatter tires, and there’s only so much fatness I can get with a 700C wheeled bike from the early 90′s.

Granted, I had fun with the XO-3 for the 1 1/2 years I owned it. It’s initial purpose was to be a “fun” bike, and for the first six months, it was. Then when I sold the LHT, it took over as the touringish all-rounder. I had never intended it to be a touring bike when I bought it, but as I was lightening up the touring load in the last year of the LHT I figured that I could make it work for the XO-3. And over the past year it did work, though I never did as much touring as I wanted to. (Thank you, three speed tours!) Everything worked good, but to be honest, as cool as the mustache bars are I could never make them work from a comfort standpoint, and was thinking about changing them before I sold it.

So now the Bridgestone XO-3 has found a new home, someone who just moved to town and needed a bike. A bike that they can do everything on, and need not do anything to.

There was a twinge of sadness when I sold it last Wednesday, but really, I had already moved on well before the stack of twenties was pushed into my hand. In any case there’s more bike projects to look forward to in the future.

Like this…15543180658_937556bdb2_h

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