A trip to Chiloquin and Crater Lake, 3-5 March 2018

As I probably mentioned previously here on this blog, March is a month of travel. Not big trips, but lots of small trips. The first three weekends of the month all feature out-of-town travel. And I just wrapped up the first trip!

On Saturday March 3rd, Emee, Virginia, and myself drove from Portland over the Cascade Range (by Mt. Hood) and into south-central Oregon. Our destination was a rental property beside the Williamson River in Chiloquin, a tiny blip of a town on US 97 about 30 miles north of Klamath Falls. Why Chiloquin, an obscure spot in a less traveled part of Oregon? Well, the owner of the vacation rental let Emee stay for free! Emee’s a professional wedding and events planner so the owner hopes by letting her see the spot, she’ll encourage clients to stay there. (It’s a racket, I tell ya! 😉  )

Anyways, it was a lovely place on a lovely river. And cold too–there was snow still on the ground, and the temps stayed in the 30’s F. This is “high desert” country, though we were high enough at an elevation of 4,000 meant it was mostly ponderosa pine forest.

But we were also close enough to Crater Lake, just 30 miles to the rim, why not go as well? So on Sunday afternoon we hopped in the Emeemobile and drove up. Lemme tell ya something: Crater Lake National Park sees A LOT of snow in winter. And while they plow the road on the south side of the park and the road up to the rim, it’s a pretty remedial job with snow still on the ground. So the trip took over an hour up.

But man, it was worth it! Crater Lake is beautiful in the snow. There’s not much to do in winter at the park unless you’re snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, as the Rim Drive and anything on the North side of the park is inaccessible. You just have the one road to the rim open, so all we could do is look. But it’s a great view. It’d been five years since I’d been up there, and I hope to get up there again in summer. (Maybe this summer?)

But it was a short trip. On Monday we drove home. It was a long way to go for just a weekend, but it was so worth it.


Coffee Outside at Irving Park, 2 Mar 2018

I really like the concept of Coffee Outside, but it’s not always easy for me to make it work. The event is at 7 AM on a Friday, and I usually have to be to work at 8. So, the location has to be right to make it work,* otherwise I’m waking up early to go somewhere, spend fifteen minutes, and rush to work.

Friday March 2nd was one of those times where it all aligned properly. The coffee spot was Irving Park at NE 7th Av and Fremont St. This would be on the way to work from my house. And Emee wanted to come along this time (her first!) so she crashed at the Holland Bike House. And then woke up early (6!) the next morning. This is a big deal as neither of us are morning people. We told ourselves that “productive people” get up early (Richard Branson regularly wakes up at 4!) so let’s be productive, eh?

We got to Irving Park at 7:10 AM. Even at this early hour, there were about a dozen other bearded bike dudes making their coffee on their respective setups.** We were set up under the covered basketball court because the forecast called for rain.*** But the day stayed mostly dry, so no need for shelter. There was much checking out of bikes, coffee gear, and cameras.

But I couldn’t linger, as I had to get to work. As it was, I still got to work late, but that’s the price you pay for fun…

*Some Coffee Outside in other cities have a permanent fixed location, while others change it up every week.

**I tell Emee I shave regularly so I wouldn’t just be another bearded bike dude. 😉

***For a town notorious for rain, we definitely have a lack of picnic shelters in our parks.

A new edition of the Cycling the Pacific Coast book is out!

I’ve got some exciting news: They finally updated the “bible” of touring the Pacific Coast! Yes, there is a new edition of Cycling The Pacific Coast out. Published by The Mountaineers in Seattle, the first four editions* were written Tom Kirkendall (aka The Guy With The Mullet) and Vicky Spring. They retired from the book and gave it over to Bill Thorness. And not a moment too soon, as the previous edition came out in 2005 and was a bit worn out even then!

They had a “Happy Hour” at Base Camp Brewing last Friday (Feb 23) where they were selling books and giving away swag. I purchased a copy of the book and managed to win an Adventure Cycling Association membership for Emee!

I haven’t been able to go through the whole book yet, but what I’ve seen has impressed me. Most impressive is the new attention to Portland. While PDX isn’t on the coast, it is the starting (and sometimes ending) point for a lot of Pacific Coast bike tours, and sometimes people who are travelling from the north will detour into Portland to see the city or supply up, as there are no significant cities on the coast until San Francisco.

The previous editions acknowledged that some folks might be flying/bussing/Amtraking into Portland to start their tour, but the info the authors gave was scant and weak, telling folks to bike out either via US 26 (the hands-down worst way to go) or US 30 (not much better.) Thorness has compiled a couple decent routes (including part of my favorite way, via Banks-Vernonia Trail/OR 47/OR 202) Not only that, but Thorness also acknowledges that some people might want to do something while in town, so he laid out a pretty good in-city bike loop.

California State Line on US 101

Perusing the book makes me nostalgic of my big Pacific Coast Tour in 2006. I traveled from Tillamook (west of PDX) to Cambria CA (outside of San Luis Obispo), with a copy of Bicycling the Pacific Coat in pannier. It was a lot of fun, and I’ve been meaning to do some more of the route again. Maybe a winter/early spring California trip. The Oregon Coast isn’t too far, I could do that again soon…

Check out a few entries from that trip here: Where am I at on this crazy tour? Bike fun observed SF-SC-LA

*The book title then was slightly different, BIcycling the Pacific Coast.

The bike I almost bought, or Bike Crazy Part Umpteen

Currently the Urban Adventure League fleet stands at five bicycles. A large number for some, though paling in comparison to others. Five is near the upper limit of comfortability for me, as I like to keep them maintained. More than that and it becomes hard.

But of course, that’s not to say I wouldn’t like more bikes. There’s no big urge right now to get another bike, but that doesn’t always stop me from pursuing things I maybe shouldn’t.

Last week, during the “snow events”, I found myself sans velo for a few days. Oh sure, I did still have all my five bikes, but they were at my house, and I was staying with Emee for a few days. I decided against bringing a bike with me because when I left the house on Wednesday, everything was ice and I didn’t want to drag a bike along if it was going to remain crappy. Of course, everything thawed and I traveled by foot or bike for a few days while watching bikes whiz by.

So then an idea hatched: Why don’t I have a bike for Emee’s house? Just in case? I stay over at her place enough, and sometimes I might not be travelling there by radfahr. 

But what would this bike look like? Well, I decided to peruse Craigslist. I wanted to see if there were any cheap and decent candidates out there, something that I could get for maybe $50 to $100 and do a few simple things to like add fenders and a basket. An old mountain bike or early hybrid would be the most practical steed and also the easiest to find cheap.

And while there were a few worthy candidates, something else caught my eye, a Surly 1 x 1.

Now, a modern single-speed mountain bike was not what I was searching for, but… I could do quite a bit with it. It would be my only “true” mountain bike, as it’s an earlier version lacking silly things like fender eyelets. And it could theoretically fit pretty fat 26 inch tires, even as big as 26″ x 3.0″ on the front! It’d be sort of a fat bike. And a bike with such wide tires would be a great candidate for when it really turns winter here. And the best part: The seller wanted only $200! $200 was more than my original budget, but what the hell. I got in touch with the seller and made an appointment to see it.

And of course this is when I had second thoughts. Do I really want to buy another bike? I could just get the Heavy Duti improved, as has been the plan for like a year, and leave it at Emee’s. And while $200 is not a lot for a bike like this, there’s plenty of other things I could do with that cash. For instance, both the Crested Butte and the Bantam were in the shop getting work done. The Lake Pepin Three Speed Tour was coming up fast, and I need to buy train tickets and all that. And while it might only cost $200 for the bike, what about if I need to do things to it?

Anyways, I met up with the buyer and checked out the 1 x 1. It looked okay, though there were some rust spots on the frame. I took it for a spin. The cockpit felt cramped, since the bars were low and straight. Ah, mountain bikes. The brakes were Avid V-Brakes, great when they work, but these needed work. The tires were whatever Kenda. The saddle hard and plastic, the pedals plastic. What was I expecting for $200?

Still, these things can be remedied. The important question was: Was I feeling it? Was the bike fun to ride? It’s hard to tell with a five minute spin ’round the block. But it wasn’t really grabbing me.

I paused a block from the buyer to look over the bike in private. It looks cool, and $200 is a great deal. I could always resell…

And then I stopped myself. I knew myself. I’d invest easily another $200 or more into this bike changing out the bits that needed it, and then doing things like getting plus tires (not cheap) or concocting even more involving projects like building a three speed rear wheel. Then would I sell it after I invested all of that into it?

I returned to the seller and told him that I wanted to think about it. He seemed genuinely surprised that I wasn’t going to buy it then-and-there. I asked if there were other people interested and he said yes. Good. I figure at that price someone would jump. And jump they obviously did, as the post was down the next day.

I walked away from there, relieved. I was glad that I showed self-restraint. There will be other bikes in the future, for sure. But now wasn’t the time. And this wasn’t the only time that I almost bought a bike but stopped myself: On Christmas Eve 2010 I almost bought a battered and beaten Raleigh Lenton. 

So now I need to get the Heavy Duti fixed up. It will happen soon, but I definitely need to get some other stuff done first!

Move by Bike, 25 Feb 2018

On Sunday Emee and I participated in a good ol’ fashioned Portland style Move By Bike. What is that, you asked? Well, it is what it sounds like: move house via bicycle rather than truck or van. Since no known cargo bike is going to have the hauling capacity of a UHaul, it’s a group affair, with dozens of folks riding cargo bikes, bikes with trailers, or just good ol’ bikes. It’s sort of like an Amish barn raising, with less barn and less Amish.

And it is oh-so-Portland.* We did a lot of Move By Bikes in the second half of the aughts, and even into the early teens.  Sometimes these moves even get national attention, like Steph and Ed’s move in 2013, which saw 70 (Seventy!) participants. The numbers have declined over the past few years, so Meghan putting out the call to move her belongings four miles from South Tabor to Beaumont-Wilshire seemed like a return to “old times” with Portland bike culture.

Of course, a winter bike move is hit-and-miss. Sometimes you can be blessed with good weather. Sometimes you have pissing rain, hail, and a strong wind out of the south, which is what happened with Meghans’ move. (Thankfully, the move was heading north.) That’s where tarps and trash bags come in handy! And despite our best intentions, Emee and I got to the move late, after everyone had loaded and set off. We rode along with them, there if anyone needed to offload stuff en route (they didn’t) and help with bringing the boxes inside at the end.

Despite the weather, about 20 people showed up. And I got to see some folks I hadn’t seen in a long time, like Tall Steve. It almost felt like a Shift event circa 2009. Ah nostalgia.**

In any case, maybe the next time you move, you can move by bike? Of course, it’s not always logistically possible, like if you’re going to move 30 miles in the countryside and you only know one other person with a cargobike/trailer. But if you’re just moving across town in an urban environment, give it a shot!

*Why yes, I HAVE moved by bike. When April and I moved into our shared one-bedroom Montavilla apartment in 2010, we had TWO separate bike moves on consecutive weekends, one from each house!

**Hitting up Zoobomb would have made an appropriate end to this nostalgic day, but alas, I didn’t go.

The unexpected late season snow

Portland’s snows are usually not big, and not frequent. We had snow around Christmas that lingered for a couple days. Since then, we hadn’t seen snow, and temps got pretty mild, even scraping 60F/16C. But this last week, it got cold, and the unlikely happened: it snowed again.

In the past seventeen years here, the biggest chance of a good snow happens from about December 15 to January 15th. After that, snows can happen, but it’s usually a pretty minor event where it snows a bit and either doesn’t stick, or a small amount sticks then melts fast. Now I’m not saying a significant snow can’t happen after January 15th, for example the snowstorm around February 6, 2014. But that was early February.  I haven’t seen a significant low elevation snow later than that, though it can stick in higher elevations in town. (And of course, the Cascade Mountains to the east of Portland can see snow into June.)

This winter has become the exception. We just had one of the mildest Januarys on record, so mild that it felt that spring had started. So having the cold and snow come now has been a shock. And not exactly that welcome by me.

Alright, a brief report. This snow week started Sunday February 18, with a cold day and a mix of snow and rain during the day, but nothing sticking. Then, later in the evening, a brief burst of snow stuck to the ground. It was almost instantly gone.

Nothing happened on Monday. It started to snow Tuesday morning, and did so all day long. A slight amount stuck in the morning on my way to work, but didn’t last. The ground was too warm. Not until the evening, when the flakes got bigger and things got colder did we get accumulation. We ended up seeing a couple inches by Wednesday morning. The riding in the AM was fine, and going from work to the bike shop was no big deal, as the snow may have well been rain (though snowflakes did get into my eye.) I took the bus home since I had to drop the bike off.

I had the brief urge to ride in on Wednesday morning, but that nice fluffy snow had turned into icy ruts on the streets, as it is wont to do in these parts. So I took the bus. I thought about bringing the bike along if it thawed later, but decided against it since it may not, and I didn’t feel like dragging my bike around. Of course, it DID melt later and the streets dried out. Murphy’s law…

Emee and I hung out in Goose Hollow in SW that evening. We took transit back to her house. It was snowing good at 9 PM but nothing sticking. Then I awoke Thursday morning to snow on the ground! Apparently it did start sticking, and there was an inch or two on non-hard surfaces. But yet again during the day things melted. I walked the three miles to work and checked out what was left of the snow. The sun felt strong, which is why the snow hasn’t been lasting long. If it was December, the sun probably wouldn’t have been powerful enough to thaw things as it has.

I type this on Thursday night. The snow is pretty much gone, but it’s supposed to drop overnight, so there will probably be ice. And they talk of more snow later Friday, but after that things are supposed to warm up.

As I said, I wasn’t exactly thrilled to see this snow. One of my frustrations is that I don’t have a properly equipped bike right now. Oh sure, I thought about setting up a bike with studded tires earlier in the winter. But we hadn’t see a freeze, much less a snow since Christmas, so I didn’t get around to it. And man, I would have loved to do some riding right now, but not enough to risk riding in ice. Of course, once the sun’s been out for a few hours, it’s been fine riding, but I haven’t had access to a bike. Now the more reason to have a bike stored at Emee’s house! 😀

Three Speed Get Together, Sunday 25 February

Hello folks! As spring continues to march its way towards us, now is the time to have a Society of Three Speeds events. Not a ride just yet, but a get-together!

Join us on Sunday February 25th at 6 PM at venerable Velo Cult Bike Shop Thing plus Tavern Type Thing, 1969 NE 42nd Ave in Portland’s Hollywood District. We’ll hang out indoors for a couple hours, drink beer, and talk three speeds. If we feel so inclined, maybe we’ll take a short spin afterwards. So bring your three speed!

Pertinent points of this gathering:

  • There will be trivia! And possibly a few prizes with trivia.
  • We’ll talk about the upcoming Three Speed Adventure April Challenge.
  • We’ll also check in on upcoming Society of Three Speed activities.

Also worth noting: On Saturday February 24, Velocirque will be happening at Velo Cult! This is a vintage bike show happening from 3 to 8 PM. This time around, they are specifically encouraging three speeds to show up and strut their stuff! So don’t be shy, bring down your trusty three speed to be ogled by others. (Having a kickstand is a definite plus.) There’ll be a ride meeting at the shop at 10 AM before the main event.

via Three Speed Get-Together, Sunday 25 February (plus Velocirque)

A quick before work ramble, 14 February 2018

While my Monday Ramble wasn’t exactly the bestest, I did have a moment of clarity where I realized that I needed to “bike just for the sake of it” more. And it’s hard to do that in the middle of winter, with all the dark. But now as we creep towards spring, it means more opportunity to sneak in a little ramble of an hour or two, something less than a day ride. And that will be good.

On Wednesday February 14th I had a chance to do just that. I had to work in the PM (starting at 3), so the morning to early afternoon was free. Typically my mornings off consist of rolling out of bed after nine (yes, I am no early riser), making a lazy breakfast, fooling around on the internet, and general putzing around the house until it’s time to take off. But this morning was different, as someone was dropping stuff off at my house at 9 and Emee was picking me up at 10 to drop off my Bantam to get some work done. So I was ready early.

After dropping off the bike, Emee and I had a late breakfast in a cafe. She had obligations starting at 12:30, so I hung out by myself awhile, writing letters and drinking coffee. Finally there reached a point where I couldn’t just sit there anymore, I needed to do something. But what? It was 1:30 PM, and I didn’t need to do anything else before work. Why not ride around a bit, burn off all that caffeine?

Ninety minutes isn’t enough to do a long ride, but it’s enough for something as long as I didn’t go to far afield. So I rambled. I decided to meander from NE 53rd and Halsey around the back (east) side of Mount Tabor and then to work. It’s a well-worn route, though I did hit up a few pockets I haven’t been to in a bit. I got to see a rather large madrona tree, explore some unimproved roads, and got a nice view on the west side of Tabor. And I managed to avoid most of the rain as well!

And that was enough. Rather than drag my ass into work, I felt invigorated, happy even. This just tells me that any little adventure is good (especially when there are no mechanical issues.  😉 ) And I need to do these little rambles more often. Also, it means I should get my arse going earlier on mornings off, so I can do stuff like this more often. Oh, to be a morning person…