More stuff to come.
As is common knowledge, October-ish through sometime around June is the “rainy” season here in Cascadia. What isn’t common knowledge is that it’s not a monolithic period; it doesn’t start raining on October 1st and then continues non-stop until June 30th. (Though sometimes it can feel like it.) No, there’s a bit o’ heavy rain, some lighter rain, drizzle, fog, and nice clear days interspersed in there. It’s a big mix of stuff, but it’s a time frame where if you plan on doing anything outside, plan for rain.
The entrance to “rainy” season is fluid (ha!) and not consistent. Some years, we get a really nice October and the rains start in earnest in November. This was the case last year. But this year it’s been more the “classic” introduction to rainy season: a few weeks of crappy wet weather as the moisture train bears down on the Pacific Northwest, bringing though a new storm system from the south every few days.
While there have been some dry days interspersed in there, they never line up with my “weekend” of Tuesday and Wednesday, meaning I haven’t had a chance to camp since the beginning of October, when I wisely decided to go out to Ainsworth State Park when the weather was still good. I’m not saying it won’t be dry again on my “weekend”, though now moving towards November it’s going to mean cooler weather and less sunlight. Oh woe is me.
Anyways, this is the time of year that you hear the most crowing about the rain, until people get used to it. (That is, until May when everyone is thoroughly sick of it.) And I’m not really complaining, no. But it’s always with great reluctance that I break out Ye Olde Rain Gear. I’ve lived in Portland for thirteen years, and have biked in every winter. While I’ve definitely tolerated raingear, I’ve never truly embraced it. I’m not one of those people who wear a Burley (old-skool) or Showers Pass (new-skool) rain jacket as their one and only piece of outerwear from October through June. (You know who these people are. You may be even be one of these people!) Never really liked them, and I did own a Showers Pass jacket for a few years. The big thing I don’t like about all the wunderkind “super” rain jackets is you pay quite a bit of money for them, and then in a couple years the water repellancy goes south. Yeah, there are a few sprays you can use to eke more life out of it, but once that inner layer delaminates (and it will), you’ve got yourself an overglorified windbreaker.
So, being a retro-grouch and all, I’ve moved towards old-skool bicycle raingear, the stuff before synthetics. And one option is waxed cotton. Carradice is famous for its waxed cotton bicycle bags, but they also make traditional raingear, namely a raincape. I’ve used mine for three years, and like it. I also have a rainjacket from them too. When waxed, it’s as water repellent as all that modern crap. And the big benefit is: when the wax wears off, you can rewax it! No having to buy a new rainjacket!
Of course, the thing is: that waxed coating does wear off. The wax on both the cape and jacket were in need of a new coat by the time the rains ended in spring. I could have done it then (I even bought a can of reproofing wax!) but laziness meant that I put it off…until about now, when the rain is too bad for me to ignore the permeability of my rain garments.
Over the course of the weekend I reproofed the cape and jacket. I used Filson oil-based wax. While Carradice does make reproofing wax, neither of the two places in town that stock Carradice stuff had it in stock now (or like, ever.)* I didn’t want to purchase on-line because the shipping for the small (3-ish ounce) canister would be almost as much as the canister itself! Filson has a store downtown, so that’s where I went. (Again, as one can is just about enough for one garment.) The re-waxing itself is fairly easy, but man, it is time consuming: it took me over an hour to rewax each garment. And it’s best to use some heat to finish the deed. Upon the recommendation of the guy at the Filson store I ended up picking up a cheap heat gun to do the job. It took about 15 minutes of heat gunning to finish each garment.
So how did it work? Seems to be doing just fine, at least the cape, which is the only one I’ve used so far in the rain, though I may add another layer to the front of the cape, as a little water got in. (It may have just gotten in through the neck, though.)
But I’ll still look forward to the coming days when I don’t have to look like this when I ride my bike.
Well, it’s become apparent that this October is different than last October. We had a really good and dry October last year (preceded by an unusually wet September), this year it’s been a lot wetter. Not every day, mind you, but it’s been a bit harder to find “good” days. I’m glad that I went camping two weeks ago, because the last two weeks haven’t been good camping weather. It’s been pouring out today (about an inch and a half so far) and the rains are in the forecast for the indefinite future. So much for getting in another camping trip this month.
Anyways, I had Tuesday off, so it was one of my weekend days. It wasn’t raining yet, just a bit blustery, so I knew I needed to get out of the house ASAP to attempt Coffeeneuring Ride 3. Since I had to run a few errands in the area, I decided on Overlook Park in North Portland as the destination. Overlook offers a great view of the city (hence: Overlook) and as a bonus, there’s a covered picnic shelter if the weather went south.* I decided to bring the Trangia 27 set, aka the “stormcooker” set, as it is capable of handling the wind. Plus, there’s a kettle, which came in handy since I was going to drink tea instead of coffee. Yes, teaneurring!
Everything went off without a hitch. The Trangia boiled the water just fine, and I enjoyed my Twinings English Breakfast tea while eating a little lunch. And it didn’t rain!
COFFEENEURING TEANEURRING RIDE THREE, Tuesday 15 October 2014
- Destination: Overlook Park, N Interstate Ave at Fremont
- Bike: 1984 Raleigh Crested Butte
- Length of ride: about 3.5 miles one-way
Coffeetea prepared by: Boiling some water. Duh.
- Type of
coffeetea: Twinings English Breakfast
- Stove used: Trangia 27 set avec kettle
*Actually, the weather was coming in from the south.
UPDATE 29 October 2014: This bike has been SOLD.
Yes, yes, the thinning of the herd continues, and I’ve decided to part with my Bridgestone XO-3. I’ve had it for a year and a half, have had fun with it, done a lot with/to it, but it’s time to move on, and sell it while it’s still in a “really good” state. This bike is ready for all-season commuting, touring, and adventuring.
Here are the pertinent deets:
- 1992 Bridgestone XO-3
- Size: 57 cm
- Cro-moly fork/main triangle, hi-ten stays
- 700C wheels. Front is a newish Quality Wheels one, rear a custom built one on a CR-18 rim
- Schwalbe Little Big Ben 700x40C tires in brown! Bought early in summer. Good stout tires with plenty of life. Haven’t flatted yet.
- Overhauled and updated drivetrain! Wide range double in front (46-26) with a seven-speed (13-34) in rear. New Shimano Acera rear derailleur. Gives you a gear range from about a 97 inch high to a 21 inch low. Good for climbing!
- Nitto Mustache handlebars with Nitto Dirt Drop Stem.
- New-ish Shimano Deore linear-pull brakes.
- Avocet Touring II leather saddle.
- SKS fenders.
- And the biggie: full dynamo lighting! An AXA HR bottle dynamo powering a B+M headlamp and taillamp. Never worry about batteries again!
After a few days of rain, Thursday October 16 turned out to be a nice fall day: sunny, high 70F/21C. With the rain supposed to return on Friday, the mantra became clear: Get it in while you can. Nice weather will soon be a thing of the past. Lollygagging outside will not be pleasurable in another month. And hell, I didn’t really feel like cooking tonight anyway.
I got home from work, deposited a few things, grabbed a few others, stopped to get a burrito at Azteca, stopped at Plaid to get a beer, and headed over to the usual spot: The horseshoe curve on N Willamette Blvd along the bluffs above the Willamette. I got there just about 20 minutes before sunset, just in time. OPB provided the news of the day while I munched on my burrito and quaffed a beer. Goose Island 312 in a can. This is the first time I purchased this Chicago beer in Portland, they must have just made inroads. Appropriately enough, I’m consuming a Goose Island with Swan Island beneath me.
Soon the sun had set, the burrito eaten, the beer drunk. Onward through the streets of North Portland towards home on this beautiful October night. Get it in while I can.
Last week my “weekend” consisted of nice weather. This week my “weekend”, Tuesday and Wednesday, consisted of crappy weather. This along with the want/need to do projects at home, did not lend itself to anything epic when it comes to Coffeeneuring. But Coffeeneuring doesn’t always need to be epic, right?
On Wednesday, October 15, I left the house and walked over to UpCycles on NE Dekum in the heart of Woodlawn to pick up the Crested Butte. Then I rode over to N Mississippi where I could not only pick up a basket for the Butte at North Portland Bikeworks, but I could pick up a coffee at the Fresh Pot!
The Fresh Pot is one of Portland’s long-standing “good” coffee shops, around since 1997. At one time it was considered one of the “hippest” shops in town, but since we’re overrun with twee pretentious coffee establishments, this is no longer the case. Sure, it is still a damn fine coffee shop, but you know how the whole buzz thing works. The Fresh Pot has always had a special place in my heart. I got to know it when I worked next door to the Hawthorne location in 2002. I really got to know the employees and owners since I went over there like twice a day (and many of the workers were customers at my shop as well.) Got to know them well enough that I got invited to their special five-year anniversary party at the N Mississippi location that year.* If I was one of those kinds of people, I’d mention the fact that all three members of Sleater-Kinney showed up to that party as well. But I’m not one of those kinds of people.**
Anyways, you probably get the point that there’s a bit of history with me and the Fresh Pot. But I haven’t been in here in ages. Still, when I went to the WC, I noticed that there is still a tfr Industries sticker on the old towel dispenser, visible beneath layers of newer stickers. I probably put it up in 2002 or 3, yeeps! Also visible is an old North Portland Bikeworks sticker from approximately the same era. Ironically enough, I’m working on their new sticker as we speak.
I got a cup of house coffee in my Klean Kanteen thermos and rode off into the misty October afternoon.
COFFEENEURING RIDE TWO, Wednesday 15 October 2014
- Destination: Fresh Pot, N Mississippi Ave at N Shaver St
- Bike: 1984 Raleigh Crested Butte
- Length of ride: 5 mile “round-trip”
- Coffee prepared by: I’m guessing either French Press or one of those industrial Bunn coffee makers.
- Type of coffee: Stumptown!
*It’s amazing that in almost 20 years, they’ve only grown to three locations. Besides the two mentioned, there’s one downtown.
**If you have to ask, Sleater-Kinney were one of the biggest alt-bands to come out of Portland.*** Sleater-Kinney featured Carrie Brownstein,**** now better known as the woman behind the TV show Portlandia. If you want to piss off a Portlandite, please ask us if we’ve heard of the show, and then if Portland is like the show.
***Yes, please tell me that they formed in Olympia.
****Also to note: Carrie Brownstein was also a customer at my shop, along with drummer Janet Weiss.
I’ll be going! Will you?
Hello, all! Walktober is once again on us, three weeks of walking fun around Portland! And once again, I’m going to lead a walk. (Yes, I’ve done this in the past!) I always try to do something different for walks, something that isn’t as fun with bikes. And that’s stairs. This walk is centered around the them of the public stairways of the Alameda Ridge. Hope you can join us!
The stairways of the Alameda Ridge.
Sunday, October 26
Meet at 4, leave at 4:30 pm.
Case Study Coffee Roasters
5347 NE Sandy Blvd
The Alameda Ridge is a glacial feature running through Northeast. There are many stairways along the ridge, many built during the streetcar era when people on the ridge needed easy access to the lower lands to catch transit or just to shop. Many of them are tucked away between houses, and are not easy to spot, at least if you aren’t looking. We’ll follow the ridge and explore as many of these staircases as we can! Please note that we’ll be out a little after dark, and we’ll end at a spot where we can get food and adult beverages.