Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.

scenes-from-last-nights-sunsetmoonrise-at-broughton-beach-technically-full-moon-was-tuesday-night-but-whatever-sunsetmoonrise-broughtonbeach_27845237044_oHello friends! It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. And here I am, apologizing for that. And it’s not that for a lack of stuff to write about. No, I just haven’t been much in a writing mood these days.

For me, after doing this blog, off-and-on for eleven years (eleven years!) it gets harder and harder to muster up the energy to write about the same things all the time. And let’s face it, it’s not like I do a lot of different things. So I try to find an angle with each time I write a blog post, but it’s hard for my posts to not turn into something like “I did X, then went to Y, and had a Z.”

And while sometimes it’s fun to geek out about bikes and talk about parts and minutia,* I don’t always have the energy to do that, either. Let’s face it: I am not a tinkerer and don’t get as much joy from fiddling with bikes as some other folks. And I’ve spent WAY too much money on bikes, bike parts, and bike work over the past year. Sometimes I would actually like to save up money so I can go have adventures. Writing about adventures is a lot more fun than writing about new tires. (Which I am getting some soon, so don’t worry, tire lovers!)

And I’ve just been busy. Pedalpalooza plus two trips to Seattle after it has worn me out. Sure, it provides some good things to write about. But I’m not going to write about them.

I’ve also been going through some personal stuff, too. That has dampened my enthusiasm a bit.

But don’t fear! I’ve been doing this for eleven years. There is an ebb and flow cycle. Right now I’m in an ebb tide. But I will bounce back at some point. So don’t think that this blog is dead. No, it ain’t.

And yes, I am “doing things”. The best way to keep tabs on what I do is to check out either my instagram or flickr feeds. (And tumblr too.) I usually post something once a day, and usually post more than once a day. You’ve been warned!

Now go enjoy summer!

*Unless you’re Stasia!:)

Not dead, just busy. (And there’s upcoming stuffs!)

Hello friends, it’s time for me to clear the cobwebs from this blog for a moment. I’ve been in the midst of Pedalpalooza this past month, which means I feel like I’m always up to something, but don’t have the time and energy to report it here. I’ve had eight pretty decent events, and I should write up a more substantial account soon. Hopefully. (Reminds me: I never really did a report on the Lake Pepin event, eh?)

But remember, you can always follow the more up to the moment reports on my Instagram (yep, I have an Instagram.) If you go through there, you’ll see LOTS of pics of the events over the past month. And yep, flickr and tumblr also have stuff on there as well.

wp-1451883303879.jpgAnyways! The busyness is not subsiding soon. No! I get on a train Monday night and head to Seattle for a couple days. Did you know that they are having a Free Bike (party) up there? It’s sort of like Pedalpalooza, but shorter and not as many events. Gotta start somewhere! I’ll be leading one ride as well! It’s the Sunset Mystery Ride. It will happen at 7 pm on Tuesday July 5. Meet at the PCC Market in Fremont, 600 N 34th St. 5mi ride to a mystery location for sunset viewing. Get supplies in market, we depart at 7:30. Remember the three Ls: Lights, layers, and libations! Sunset is at 9:07 pm. (And if you are around, you should check out Madi’s ride with kids and dogs to beer earlier that day. I’ll be there!)

tumblr_o9npmjioeY1s4tkqfo1_540Then I get home and who comes to town? Mr. Tarik Saleh himself, that’s who. The leader of everyone’s favorite bike club will be here, and we’ll be doing a ride! Join us on Saturday July 9th for the Tarik Saleh Bike Club Ride! Meet at 10 am Fillmore Coffee, 7201 NE Glisan St. Get there for breakfast/coffee, depart at 11. 20-30mi ride, mixed terrain, a few hills. Nothing too intense. Many breaks for food/beverage, ends in Montavilla.

And finally, Mary of Chasing Mailboxes and Ed of Daily Randonneur will be in town after a (probably) epic two week tour of the Sierra Cascades! They’ll be in town on Friday July 15th. Come and hang with them from 4:30 pm to let’s say 8-ish at Velo Cult, 1969 NE 42nd Ave in the hoppin’ Hollywood district. Hear tales about their adventure!

There is more stuff coming, don’t you worry. I’m working on a bunch of fun rides, whether group/public things, or my own stuff. Stay tuned!

Lael Wilcox WINS the Trans Am bike race!

Hey all! If you haven’t been paying attention, Lael Wilcox just won this year’s Trans Am Bike Race! It’s a self-supported endurance contest following the route of Adventure Cycling Association’s Trans America cross-country bike touring route. And LAEL WON! And when I say “won”, I mean the whole damn thing in the west-east (Astoria, Oregon to Yorktown, Virginia) section, beating out both women AND men!

A great account of this is over on Nick Carman’s blog, Gypsy By Trade (who happens to be her boyfriend.)

Anyways, I got to hang for a little bit with Lael before the race when she was in Portland in May. Wish I had more time to hang! The photo is from when she was here. She’ll be heading to Adventure Cycling’s shindig in Missoula, MT in July. Maybe you can run into her there?27745012002_c828a51d65_z

Blast from the past: BikeTV visits Pedalpalooza in 2005

Bikeportland posted this video yesterday from BikeTV, the former video project from Clarence Eckerson of Streetfilms. About halfway through it is a piece on my Eastside Theater History ride!

2005 seems so long ago now. Pedalpalooza was a smaller thing, where you’d probably run into the same group of folks at every event you went to. The “huge” rides then were what? 100 people? And that would probably be just the Kickoff Ride.

Three Speed Camping in the Gorge Report.

This past weekend (June 3-5) was my Three Speed Camping Trip for 2016! We had our first one in 2015, and this year I decided to have it in conjunction with Adventure Cycling Association’s National Bike Travel Weekend.

I’ve gone out to Ainsworth State Park in the Columbia Gorge MANY times for bike camping over the years, on the average of 2 to 3 times a year, so I’m not going to talk that much about the specifics of riding to Ainsworth. But I will talk about what made this particular trip unique:

  • Heat! The last time I was out here in March, it was cool and wet. This time, hot and dry, with a high hitting 100F/38C BOTH days that I was out there! Biking in heat was not fun, but we got going home as early as possible on Sunday, so we beat most of the heat then. Most of.
  • Sickness. I came down with a cold on Thursday. I originally planned on riding out to Ainsworth on Friday night, but decided I should recuperate at home instead, heading out on Saturday morning. That was probably a good call.
  • Bus! One of the sticking points of car-free travel in the Gorge for so long was that there was no practical bus service on the Oregon side.* That all changed on Memorial Day weekend with the inauguration of the Columbia Gorge Express, a bus that runs from Gateway Transit Center in Portland to Rooster Rock State Park and Multnomah Falls. And it has space for three bikes! This service only runs during the summer and only Friday to Sunday (for now), so I wouldn’t normally be able to use it on my typical mid-week excursions, but Saturday I could! Sure, call it cheating, but I wanted to “pace myself” since I was recovering from a cold AND would be riding 20 miles round-trip from Ainsworth to Cascade Locks later in the day. Besides, I have ridden to Multnomah Falls many a time in my life. From the falls it was just a four mile ride to camp. So easy! All that for $5!
  • Beer! Oh sure, there’s always beer with camping. But this time we actually got to go to the fabled Thunder Island Brewing in Cascade Locks, a 20 mile roundtrip ride from camp, 75% of the ride on bike path! Of course, the wisdom of drinking a bunch of beer on the middle of a 100 degree day and then riding bikes is dubious, but when the idea was proposed during cooler months, it sounded great!
  • Bike! I’ve had the Raleigh Superbe “road ready” since March, but this was the first camping trip with it. I’ve done three speed bike camping trips before, but it was with the Raleigh Wayfarer.** I originally thought I’d use two panniers plus my smaller Carradice saddlebag (Nelson), but since I’d be taking the bus (which may be crowded) and ended up camping for only one night, I decided to cram it all into my Carradice Camper Longflap saddlebag. It worked, but pushed the limits of the bag. The riding was fine, though I still need to tweak the handlebars and do some other adjustments. The three speed handled the two-and-half mile climb from Latourell Falls to Crown Point, averaging a 5% grade. Here’s to more three speed bike camping!
  • People. Last year, we had only three people: myself, Steve, and Tim. This year, we doubled attendance, adding Vince, Drew, and Kurt (who I never saw because he was only around for Friday night.) As far as I know, everyone had fun, and would do it again!

*There’s a bus that’s been running on the Washington side for a long time, but the only thing until now on the Oregon side is a twice-weekly bus from Portland to Cascade Locks, Hood River, and The Dalles. It skips over all the attractions along the old highway, though.

**And on last year’s Three Speed Bike Camping Trip to the Gorge, I really cheated and took my Bantam, mostly because the Wayfarer had an issue right before the trip, but also so I could test the Bantam for camping, since I’d be on a tour shortly afterward.

 

Pedalpalooza starts TOMORROW! And here are ALL the Urban Adventure League and Society of Three Speeds events!

27159271012_87e16a672e_oHello friends! Pedalpalooza, Portland’s annual festival of bike fun is upon us. It’s been going strong since 2004* and this year it runs from June 8 through July 4. The calendar is packed with 277 (as of now) unique events. And this year, I’ve got nine different events going on! yes, NINE! Try as I might to “scale it back”, this year I decided to go full on. Because I wanted to see the types of events I want to do!😉

So here we go, the UAL/SoTS events for Pedalpalooza 2016:

  • Thursday June 9, 5am (the first event of Pedalpalooza) SUNRISE COFFEE CLUB
    Broughton Beach, 4325 NE Marine Dr (right off Marine Dr multi-use path, east of where it intersects the road)
    What better way to start Pedalpalooza? Get up before the crack of dawn and ride up to the Columbia to make coffee while watching the sun rise. Coffee and camaraderie guaranteed. BYO coffee, water, and way to make coffee. Think camping stoves and the like. Sunrise is hoped for at 5:21. Bringing some breakfast ain’t a bad idea, either.
  • Monday June 13, 8:30pm FOR THE LOVE OF THE BOTTLE (DYNAMO) Lucky Lab, 1700 N Killingsworth St  (The one in North Portland!)
    A ride appreciating the humble bottle or sidewall dynamo generator! Vintage or modern, it doesn’t matter, as long as the generator works. We’ll cruise around the night, kept company by the whirring of the dynamo wheel against tire. Please, NO HUB DYNAMO SYSTEMS OR BATTERY LIGHTS! Bottom bracket dynamos OK!
  • Wed June 15, 10am OUTER SLOUGH RAMBLE 
    Cascades MAX Station, NE Cascades Pkwy & NE Mt. St. Helens Ave 
    Let’s explore the further reaches of the Columbia Slough! This approximately 25 mile ride will feature sleepy reaches of this waterway, plus other secret spots. Mixed surfaces, and we may have to push or carry a bike for a bit. A bit of high traffic roads, too. Not a loop but will end near transit, and maybe we’ll do lunch, etc at the end.
  • Sun June 19, 4 pm DEAD FREEWAYS RIDE 
    South Park Blocks in front of Lincoln Hall (PSU), 900 SW Market St 
    What if…Portland built all the freeways it planned? This ride follows the routes of several highways that never made it off the drawing board, such as the fabled Mt. Hood Freeway, some that did but were later removed, like Harbor Drive, and also as a reference some freeways that currently exist. Approx 13 miles of riding through moderate traffic. Drinks and discussion to follow.
  • Mon June 20, 7:45pm SUNSET/MOONRISE RIDE P’s & Q’s Market, 1301 NE Dekum St Did you know that on the day of the full moon, the moon rises right around the same time that the sun sets? We’ll ride about 5 mi to a good spot where we can see BOTH. Stock up on supplies and libations at Ps and Qs (sorry, they are not known for cheap beer), and of course bring an extra layer and lights for the ride home.
  • Wed June 22 5:30pm TRAIN HISTORY RIDE 
    Union Station, 800 NW 6th Ave, Portland (meet outside by stone obelisk)
    Experience how Portland history has been shaped by rails. This approx 10mi ride will explore SW, including a climb to Council Crest. So yes, there will be hills. Not a loop. Ride is co-led with Dan Haneckow of Cafe Unknown.
  • Sun June 26, 9am ASSOCIATION OF CAFFEINATED WHEELMAN RIDE 
    Green Zebra Grocery, 3011 N Lombard St
    There ain’t nothing better than riding somewhere and enjoying coffee, esp. coffee that you make there! We’ll ride under 5 miles to a scenic spot to have coffee. Points for elaborate prep or quirky gear. And you might as well make/have breakfast, too. And tea is perfectly fine. ACW gear encouraged, BYO everything. Wheelwomen too!
  • Sun June 26, 4pm THREE SPEED RIDE 
    Omaha Parkway, N Omaha Ave & Ainsworth St (in the parkway strip)
    What better way to finish Sunday Parkways than ramble around the northern reaches of Portland on your humble internally geared three speed bicycle? Bring your trusty three speed bicycle from any nation. Three speeds preferred but any bike welcome if you don’t have one. Casual paced ramble,approx 10-15 mi, fairly flat, with a little unpaved “rough stuff” action thrown in. We’ll have a picnic and tea brew up on the way, bring all the necessities like food, a teakettle and a camping stove. Ride not a loop, ends near transit and adult beverages.
  • Tues June 28-Wed June 29 MIDWEEK BIKE CAMPING  You need to register to get start location, but it’s near MAX in North Portland
    Because bike camping isn’t just for weekends! We’ll head on up to Battle Ground Lake in SW Washington. Approx. 25 mile ride one way and we’ll stop for supplies. You can either ride with the group or come up on your own. We’ll split the cost of campsites and wood. Must have some experience with bike camping. More info and to register here.

*Technically this all started in 2002 with Bikesummer, then morphed into Mini Bike Summer in 2003, finally becoming Pedalpalooza in 2004. Semantics, schemantics.

A trio of out-of-town visitors

It’s been a busyish week here at the UAL HQ. Besides getting ready for the Three Speed Camping trip this weekend and preliminary Pedalpalooza preparations, a bunch of people passed through town!

Elena is on the left.

Elena is on the left.

First up is Elena, a twentysomething college student touring the US via Amtrak and bicycle this summer. She’s blogging over at Summer By Rail. Obviously you can’t do a bikes-on-the-train tour across the US without stopping in Portland! Last Wednesday, May 25 she came through and had a meet-and-greet at the Green Dragon. I managed to talk with Elena for a little bit.

One of the “big deals” of her tour is to test out the new bike hooks in most of the long-distance train baggage cars. Up until now, you have to box a bike to bring it onboard the long distance routes, and that’s only if both the origin and destination station had checked baggage service. With the hooks, not only do you have to go through the pain of boxing a bike, but you can get on and off anywhere where the train stops!*

This is a big deal for me because it will make my long distance bike-and-train journeys easier. For example, I take the train to Minneapolis-St Paul when I attend the Lake Pepin Three Speed Ride. But to get my bike to the start of the ride, Red Wing, is a logistical hurdle since it’s about 45 miles away. I’ve gotten a ride and have done the “casino bus” thing twice. But there’s an Amtrak station right in the heart of Red Wing! Until now, the only way I’d get off and on there with a bike is if I had a folding one, as Red Wing is an unstaffed station. But when this program goes into play, I can simply get on and off in Red Wing itself. Much easier!

wp-1464822843907.jpgAfter meeting up with Elena, I learned that Lael Wilcox is in town! Everyone’s favorite footloose bike tourer and long-distance racer is getting ready to depart on her next big adventure, the Trans Am Race, a cross-country race following the route of Adventure Cycling’s classic coast-to-coast adventure. The race starts from Astoria on Saturday (there’s also racers starting in the east that same day in Yorktown, VA). She’s hoping to make it to Yorktown in 17 days, with an average of 250 miles a day! Whew. I get exhausted even thinking about that pace!

Make sure you follow her adventures. Probably the best place to do that is through the tracking bit on the Trans Am website, or hopefully she’ll post on Instagram. Also, her bf Nick at Gypsy By Trade will probably have a play by play as well. So many options!

Anyways, it was great to finally meet the legend face to face. We scared up some breakfast at the Paradox Cafe on Thursday May 26th and talked about our plans for the summer. Mine are nowhere near as ambitious as hers!😉

Yeah, I "grabbed" this pic from the Sprocket Podcast, sorry guys. From L to R: Brock (host), yours truly, Madi, Rob, Aaron (host)

Yeah, I “grabbed” this pic from the Sprocket Podcast, sorry guys. From L to R: Brock (host), yours truly, Madi, Rob, Aaron (host)

Then over the weekend Madi of Family Ride rode her bike down from Seattle, pulling two centuries with “Fat” Rob Anderson (and sans children.) A visit from Madi is always fun! I got to hang out with her on Monday, her last day before taking Amtrak home. Madi, Rob, and myself managed to get on The Sprocket Podcast, Portland’s favorite bike and transportation related podcast. So without knowing, I got dragged to the Spocket Podcast’s secret lair! The talk was mostly about their ride down, though I managed to mention Lake Pepin.

Okay! There should be some more visitors soon, as Pedalpalooza draws people out of the woodwork. And I hear that a particular Bike Club president will be in town in July…

*Certain short-distance lines already have this service, like the Cascades that runs north from Portland to Seattle and Vancouver BC or south to Eugene. But none of the long distance trains have had this option until the last year.

Five years since The Big Tour

Hello folks. Today is Friday May 27. And exactly five years ago today, April and myself packed up our belongings, returned our apartment key to the property management company, and hit the road on our big Cross-Continent Bike Tour. Five years! Wow. Time does fly. At times it seems like we just got off the road, and at other times, it’s a lifetime ago.

Since I have not had children, bought a house, or hit the Powerball jackpot, it’s safe to say that the four months on the road, on the bike is the biggest thing I’ve ever done besides moving across the continent. After hearing about other folks’ big bike tours, I never thought I’d be able to do one, until I did one. Yeah, we didn’t get all the way to the Atlantic as planned, but we got pretty far nevertheless.

Last night I looked over some of the blog entries from the tour. (You can too, just dig through the archives from May 2011 through October 2011.) Memories came flooding back. Man, it was a great time. Yeah, sure, we were broker than we hoped, always stressing about money. And sometimes we questioned what the hell we were doing. But we did it.

It took me a few years to reach some sort of closure with the tour. We were bummed that we didn’t get all the way across. But we went slower than we thought, and my itinerary was a lot more ambitious than practical. We got into the Midwest in later September, running low on cash and enthusiasm. I’m sure if we really, really, REALLY pushed ourselves we could have made it at least to the Atlantic. But in retrospect, I’m glad we didn’t push ourselves. But I always had that lack of completion hanging over me, the idea that we somehow failed, that others looked at us as failures. And we promised ourselves to “finish the tour” at some point, start in Chicago and head east.

But over the past five years, that desire to finish has all but faded. Sure, I’d like to do some touring in the Northeast and especially Atlantic Canada at some point. But now it would be more out of a desire to do that, not to “finish” a tour from 2011. Because, yes, that tour is done. Anyways, there’s other tours I’d like to take up first, like stuff around the Rockies. Or a bit of the Southern Tier during the winter.

And yes, there is still a fire in me to do a longer tour. Not four or five months, but maybe two. The Cross-Continent tour made me realize that I’m no Heinz Stucke or Lael and Nick. I like having a home base, and there are only so many days in a row that I want to live out of the metaphorical panniers. When will that big tour happen? I was hoping that I’d have done one by now. At best I can aim for next year. But realistically it might be two years. As I get older, I worry a bit more about stability. And as Portland gets more expensive, it gets tougher to give up something like reasonable rent at the place I’ve been living for 2 1/2 years. I don’t want to “put all my stuff in storage again” and start anew.

That was probably the toughest thing about the 2011 tour: Coming home. On one hand, it was a huge relief. On the other hand, I had hoped things would be different when I got back, we’d find a new place to live, I’d find a better job. Things were different, but not in the way I had hoped. We slipped back into familiar patterns despite not wanting that. I ended up getting my old job back, which was/is good/bad. Portland has felt different in the five years since I got back. It was changing before we left, but the break from the Rose City made the changes feel more stark. Portland got bigger, busier, more expensive, more fancy. I’ve definitely been frustrated by some of those changes, but it’s still the place I love. And sometimes I do want a change, but for the life of me I haven’t figured out where else I’d want to live.

I’m glad we did the tour. We got to see some cool places, and meet/hang out with some really cool folks. It’s nice to prove to myself that I could pull off something like biking day after day for months on end. Over the years, the hardships of the tour have faded with time. When I think back, I don’t first think of the time that April’s chain broke in the middle of Saskatchewan and we spent two hours trying to hitch a ride. Or the Big Agnes pad that would leak no matter how many times I replaced it. No, I think about things like cresting our last mountain pass (Sunwapta) in the Canadian Rockies and the glacier we’d see soon afterward. The wildlife. The sunsets. The canola fields. The time we crossed the Mississippi River by foot, so what if it was at its source? Those were great moments, and I own them all.

If you want to check out the photos from that tour, go here.

And if you don’t want to wade through a bunch of old posts, this post from when we hit 1,000 miles on the road is a good encapsulation of my feelings.