The Crested Butte at five years

I’ve had a number of bikes in my adult years, and I’m counting every bike I’ve had since I turned 18. Let me take a sec and count…seventeen? Yeesh. A lot of bikes. Out of that number, I’ve only had a handful that have lasted five or more years:

  1. The crappy Huffy MTB I got from Kmart in 1994, my first “adult” bike. I had that until 2000, when I left for the West Coast and abandoned it in the garage of my mom’s house.
  2. The Giant Rincon MTB I got from Citybikes when I moved to Portland in 2001. That lasted until 2006.
  3. My Long Haul Trucker. Purchased 2008, sold 2013.
  4. The Raleigh Wayfarer three speed. Purchased 2010, disassembled 2015.
  5. The Raleigh Crested Butte that I bought in October of 2012

So the Crested Butte joined the five year club in October. That means this blog post is a couple months late, sorry! I’m bad at this anniversary biz.* And this five year mark is significant, as it means I’ve gone through a lot with the particular bike, got to know its quirks, made a lot of changes to adjust my idiosyncratic riding style. It’s survived the urge to jettison and move on to something else. And the Crested Butte is quite the survivor in that department as I’ve attempted to sell it, what? Once? Maybe even twice? Yet I’ve come to my senses and taken it back, even improve it.

And improve it I have. If you remember, back in January I sunk about $500 into changes and upgrades, as a lot of stuff had worn out. Since then, I really haven’t changed the bike (I think the only thing that’s changed is a bottle cage), so rather than bore you here again with the details, read that earlier blog post for enlightenment. (Yer welcome, Stasia! 🙂 ) It’s performed beautifully in the past nine months.

It’s come a long way since I got it on that damp Sunday in October 2012. It was a barely ridden garage queen, a reminder of what a top-of-the-line production mountain bike looked like in 1984. I got it on a lark, since I wanted something with fatter tires than my Long Haul Trucker,** something that would be more able in exploring off-road areas, something a little more rough stuff worthy. I never did “true” mountain biking with the Crested Butte, as that slack geometry isn’t great for it, but I have definitely gotten off the beaten path with this bike.

But the Crested Butte realized itself as the Ultimate Commuting Machine. The slack angles make for a Cadillac ride. Adding such swept back bars like the Nitto Boscos alleviated the issue of too-long top tube and helped with the general undersizedness of it all. The giant Wald front rack can haul a lot of stuff. A dynamo lighting system means I never have to worry about recharging lights. Full fenders mean an all weather commuter. Just get on and go.

What’s next? Not much. The Crested Butte has settled into its role, I don’t think there’s going to be any drastic revisions. No, what else can I do? Sure, the consumables will need to be replaced at some point, but the only thing I can think about changing in the near future is shifters, as I don’t care much for the current ones (but they get the job done.) There’s always the notion of putting an internally geared hub in back, but after the major updates/changes to drivetrain in January, I’m not even going to pursue that option for a few more years when things wear out. If I wear out the front wheel anytime soon, I’d most likely go for something with a dynohub, so the bottle dyno would go. But as I said, if/only when things wear out.

The Raleigh Crested Butte has given me five years of faithful service. I’m looking forward to many more. It’s funny, besides the whatever Huffy I had in the 90’s, I have never owned a bike for more than six years. Maybe this will be the one?

*For example, I have not mentioned that Ten Foot Rule hit the 20 year mark.

**There was a brief moment when I had a Raleigh M-40 mountain bike right before the Crested Butte, but I don’t think much of that bike.

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A dry spell

It’s no secret: Winter in this part of the Northwest is about rain. No, it’s not a non-stop downpour, but there are more days that feature some sort of precipitation than not. But there are dry days, even sunny days interspersed in there. During the middle of winter, it’s rare to get more than two consecutive sunny days.

But now? We are in the middle of a pretty rare dry and sunny spell. A ridge of high pressure is dominating the entire West Coast, which is nice for us up here (but is basically fueling the wildfires in SoCal, sorry about that.) It’s been dry since Monday December 4, and is supposed to stay dry until at least Friday December 15th, the next time the word “rain” is even uttered in the forecast. Almost two weeks of dry! We haven’t had a ten day dry spell like this since 2009.

It’s been fairly mild, mid 40’s to 50’s F (7-10 C), but a stiff east wind makes it feel colder. I’ve been trying to get out as much as possible, but work plus limited daylight and other obligations mean it’s not easy. The most I managed is a quick ride to Mount Tabor after work on Wednesday. I got up there as the sun was setting.

I do have a three day weekend starting Sunday (now), but Bike Craft is this coming weekend, and I am nowhere near ready. It’s semi tempting to go camping, but a) Bike Craft b) long, cold nights  c) I just went “camping” last weekend  and d) I will be out of town for both Christmas and New Years, so no shortage of “going somewhere”. Still, the instinct of “camp when you can” is there.

I’ll at the very least get a good long ride in. I’m tempted to head east to the Columbia Gorge. After a few months of it being essentially closed off due to the Eagle Creek Fire, parts of the old Highway are open again, including Crown Point. It would be nice to see this area again, but that stiff east wind (even stiffer out there) is daunting. Still, I’ll do something…

And this dry spell may stick around long enough that we’ll appreciate the return of the rain!

Stub Stewart Cabin Camping Trip, 3-4 Dec 2017

It’s the “off season” for bike camping and touring in the we(s)t side of the Cascades. While camping and touring is still possible, one has to deal with short days, long nights, and general damp and cold. Not the most conducive conditions for tenting it. But we are lucky here, as many state parks have either cabins or yurts to rent! Either one provides a nice dry and warm (electric heaters!) spot to spend a night after a day of (possibly damp and cold) biking. Oh yeah, there’s power and light too, so if one wants to bring a small kettle with them (like my friend Ed did a few years back) one can make coffee without even going outside! And of course, there are beds, so all one really needs is bedding (and a stove if one wants to cook.)

So Emee and I decided to do some bike-cabin-camping. We chose Stub Stewart State Park, a relatively easy 22 mile ride from the westside suburbs (and you can use light rail to get there)–half on quiet roads, half on rail trail (Banks-Vernonia). Easy peasy! OK, there is that mile climb to get to the cabins, but I guess one has to “earn” it a little, since we don’t need to haul tents! Speaking of which: Emee and I have tent camped before, but with a car, so this is the “next step” before we do some bike-tent-camping in 2018. Exciting!

Emee and I left her house in North Tabor around noon on Sunday, December 3. We took the MAX light rail out to the western terminus in Hillsboro, then after a pause for coffee, rode the 12 miles to Banks. The roads got rural and fairly quiet fast, about a mile after getting off the train. This area is still farm country, and nurseries are the big business, so we saw a lot of that, and the Coast Range in the distance. Oh yeah, we had a brief token rainshower.

Banks is the half-way point, and has a full service grocery store, so we loaded up on supplies, and got on the Banks-Vernonia trail. This was an old logging trail, so there’s a flat section for about six miles, then it pitches upward at about 3%. This incline is more than a standard railroad would normally do, but logging railroads typically had steeper grades in the mountains since they had to. We had a quick pause on Buxton Trestle, and by this point the sun was gone, so it was dark riding the rest of the way. (Pretty typical for me this time of year!) The clouds had mostly cleared, so we got a great view of the Supermoon!

Most of the night was spent hanging inside the cozy cabin. We did build a fire, but it did get pretty cold (frosty) and why not spend the time inside the cozy cabin?

Monday morning arrived, nice and dry. After a fairly wet November, it was the beginning of a (not-yet-ended, as of the time of this posting) dry streak. We fortified ourselves with a breakfast of biscuits and gravy (and of course coffee!) then packed up our stuff and headed back towards Hillsboro. (Pro tip: The first six or so miles is descent, so layer up!) It was a successful little trip, and now I’m looking forward to more bike travel adventures!

 

An optin’ outside, givin’ thanks kinda ride: Mon 27 Nov

Last Thursday (November 23) was Thanksgiving in America. For most, a four day weekend, a time to travel home and/or eat lots of food. For others, the start of the holiday shopping season. It’s become a big thing over the past couple years to buck the whole waiting-in-line at midnight for doorbusters by #optoutside. Y’know, don’t go shopping, do something outdoors instead. I get it, but it somehow feels a li’l smug to me, especially when I get bombarded by everyone’s “rad adventure” photos on Saturday.

And why is that? Well, since I work in hospitality, I don’t get things like four day holiday weekends, even for Thanksgiving. In fact I work most Thanksgivings and Black Fridays. I can’t do the crazy awesome adventures. At best, I can hope for a little something.

And a little something was what I was hoping for on Friday morning (November 24.) The weather was nice, and there was a late-edition Coffee Outside near my house. So I hoped to do a little ride on the way to work at 3. That all got thwarted when I got a bit of a head cold on Thanksgiving night. So no optin’ outside that day. Nor the next several days, since I was still sick, had to work, and the weather got crappy.

But Monday November 27 turned out pretty okay. I had a little bit of time off, so I decided it was now or never for a bike ride. And I was jonesin’ for something, since it had been awhile. Quick and easy was the order of the day, so I headed down towards the Columbia Slough. First stop, Columbia Children’s Arboretum, a fairly obscure and secret spot of woodsy solitude, theoretically featuring every state tree. I had been down here a month ago, and the leaves were mostly gone. This time, I decided to take the path closer to a slough side channel vs. the main route through the arboretum.

I winded my way out of there and westward until I hit Smith and Bybee Wetlands. Smith Lake was full of water and geese, and the rapidly setting sun shone through the alder forest that lined the banks. Another peaceful moment.

Kelley Point Park was just a few miles away, and there was still daylight, but I didn’t feel like going that far, especially since it was becoming rush hour and the traffic would get bad.* Only if I left earlier, oh well. I headed southward, crossing the Slough at the ped/bike bridge by the treatment plant. I steered for St Johns for food and drink. I soon realized that St Johns on a Monday isn’t the best idea, as it seemed like half the restaurants were closed. Still, I found a great Indian place, and got a drink elsewhere.

I’m really thankful that I have spots like the Children’s Arboretum, Smith and Bybee Wetlands, and other lands around the Columbia Slough close at hand. All I need is an hour or more to unwind and recenter, and I can easily do this with just a couple hours left of daylight on an almost-winter day.

*While there’s a “bike path” that goes all the way there and almost into St Johns, it’s really an overglorified sidewalk with lots of driveway crossings.

Items for sale: Bottle cages, splats, stem bag

The neverending cleaning and purging of bicycle parts and accessories continues! Here are a few things I don’t need anymore. Interested?

  • Prices do not include shipping. If you are interested in something, please include your zip code.
  • For those outside of Portland, I will accept Paypal and Square Cash for payment methods.
  • For those inside Portland, I will definitely do in-person transactions. This must be carried out either in Woodlawn (NE) or on SE Hawthorne Blvd. Of course you can pay cash, and there won’t be any shipping cost!
  • And I will definitely cut you a deal if you buy multiple items. Otherwise, I feel these prices are pretty reasonable!

Okay, what’s up this time?

  • King Cage “Iris” stainless steel water bottle cage. SOLD!
  • Velo Orange “Moderniste” stainless steel water bottle cage. $10 (Only one available.)
  • MUSA (Rivendell) “Splats”, size “C” (fits men’s shoe size 9 to 15?) Waxed cotton waterproof shoe covers. Apparently Rivendell doesn’t even have this size in stock right now. SOLD!
  • Jandd stem bag. Fits on top tube and stem.SOLD!

Please email me at urbanadventureleague@gmail.com if you are interested in any (or all!) of these items, or if you have questions.

15% Off Holiday Sale in my Store!

IMG_20171127_110854-01.jpegHello friends! It’s that time of year, the time you think about buying gifts for others (or maybe yourself?) So now is a good time for a li’l sale in my Store!

Pretty much everything over in my Storenvy Store is 15% off through 11:45 PM Pacific Time on Sunday, December 10th. Choose from a selection of comics, zines, postcards, posters, and stickers!

Here is the fine print:

  • Discount applies only to the items, not shipping or Storenvy fees
  • Discount will be automatically applied, no need for a coupon code!
  • Minimum order of $5.00
  • New Old Stock 2.125 Pre-Order and Postcard Club 2018 are not on sale

Alright, hope you find something you like. And thank you for your support!

A week in the East: 13-21 November 2017

My week(ish) long vacation that happened Monday November 13 through Tuesday November 21st was significant for a number of reasons: My first time on the East Coast in ten years (last time 2007), my first time on a plane in almost four (last time Jan 2014), my first long trip with my current girlfriend Emee, and a rare non-bikecentric trip (though bikes were still involved.) The main reason for the trip was an alumni function at Emee’s alma mater, Yale. We tacked on visits to New York and Boston on top of New Haven.

I’m not going to bore you with a play-by-play, but here’s how it broke down:

  • We flew from Portland on Mon Nov 13. This was a night flight with a stopover at San Francisco, so we didn’t get to Boston until 5 AM (Eastern Time) on Tuesday November 14.
  • From Logan, we took the train north to Salem to spend a night with Emee’s friends Donna and Charles. I managed to catch a visit with my old friend Bruce.
  • The next day, Wed Nov 15, we took an afternoon train back to Boston to spend the night. We went on a crazy bike ride in honor of my friend Carl’s b-day.
  • Thurs Nov 16 we took Amtrak to New Haven, where we would be until Sat night. We did a bunch of alumni-related Yale stuff, but squeezed in a visit with my friend Marc, a bike ride with New Haven Bike Party, and consumption of pizza and Mamoun’s.
  • Sat Nov 18 we hopped on the Metro-North train to Grand Central. We’d be in New York until Tues morning (Nov 21). All of the time was spent in Manhattan. Emee got to visit her dad. I got to visit Justine of Mid-Life Cycling. We also hit up the High Line and St Marks Place.
  • Tues Nov 21 we took a NJ Transit train from Penn Station to Newark Liberty Airport. Another long day of flying (with another stopover in SFO) to get home.

As someone who spent the first 24 years of my life in Connecticut, and who has spent the last 17 on the West Coast (16 in Portland), it is a bit weird visiting the homeland after such a long time. I did see a decent number of good changes in New Haven, like increased bicycle infrastructure (contra-flow bike lanes! bike corrals!) and just cool places to go, it comes with a price: The city, while never a “deal”, has gotten increasingly unaffordable. Still, it got me a bit wistful about the city I considered “home” at one point.

Other points and observations:

  • We used bike share in Boston and New York. (New Haven’s system is a month from going online, so we borrowed bikes from the awesome Devil’s Gear bike shop.) I had only used bike share once before, the Biketown here in Portland. It was fun! Yes, these bikes are not great “riding” bikes, but that’s not the point. However, these two systems use the “only 30 minutes per ride” system that was standard on early bike shares. (Portland will allow you to ride for up to 180 consecutive minutes.) So it can be a bit stressful to figure out if there’s going to be an available dock before the 30 minutes are up to avoid penalties. If I was going to do a lot more travelling like this with flying involved, I’d seriously consider getting a folding bike.
  • As for flying, it wasn’t bad, but I still don’t really like it. We had a six hour flight back from Newark to SFO, and those seats are so damn cramped and uncomfortable. It makes me appreciate taking the train.
  • It was nice to see folks I know! Bruce and Carl in the Boston area, Marc and Matt in New Haven, Justine in New York.
  • And it was definitely nice being in the Northeast for a bit. I was surprised how some things still felt so familiar even after such a long break. And in the case of New Haven, things are definitely getting better. But I realized that while I could probably make a move back “work”, I still prefer being on the West Coast. Portland has become home to me, and I don’t want to leave. If I was going to try another town to live in, it’d probably be somewhere new.

Heading to the East Coast Nov 14-20

Hello people, time for a trip!

Tomorrow, Monday November 13, @ejpevents and myself take a red eye to the East Coast! We will be in the Boston area Tuesday and Wednesday (Nov 14-15), then Amtrak to New Haven on Thursday, where we’ll be until Saturday evening (Nov 16-18). Then Metro North to New York, where we be until Monday night (Nov 18-20) Tuesday morning we fly home.

It’s going to be a whirlwind trip, and I haven’t been Back East in TEN YEARS! (Haven’t flown in almost four!) Maybe I’ll see you? We’ll be hitting up Carl’s b-day thing in Boston on Wednesday, and hope to hit up New Haven Bike Party on Saturday.

Oh yeah, we are NOT bringing bikes yet (appropriate folding bikes are not in the quiver) but we’ll be using Bike Share where we can and maybe borrowing where we can’t.

Message me if you want to attempt to hang out.
#bosnhnytripnov2017