The things that stick in your head when on tour (and other curiosities)

mariaspassI hung out with April the other night. Generally any time we hang out together, we talk about The Big Tour, or Cross Continent jaunt in 2011. (Five years ago? How time flies!) There were many great moments and memories, like the Many Slopes guy and the You Go To Canmore? Guy and the French dude who was jealous of all the bears we saw. (Yep, all those people were found in the Canadian Rockies.)

With a tour of any length, one is bound to get asked questions by the “civilians”, y’know, the folks NOT bike touring. They typically break down into asking where we are going/coming from and how far we have biked/will bike. Then they conclude with a “I could never do that!” or “You must be brave!” which usually translates into I think you are crazy. Whatever. (It’s funny, but you do get asked the where are you going question from other bike tourists, but you don’t mind talking about that since they are on the same wavelength.)

But sometimes you get asked a really interesting question, something that you remember. We had that happen when, near the end of our tour when we were passing through Iowa City, our host Cody asked April, “What song have you had stuck in your head?” Now that’s a good question, a true question for someone that’s done something like a bike tour or maybe even a through hike. Because that does happen. In this day and age of instant gratification, when one can simply use their Spotify app to play that song and get the song out of their head, it’s interesting to think with the spotty to nonexistent wifi and data on some parts of a bike tour, you can’t do that. (And five years ago it was just a bit harder to do any of that stuff as it was.) So you just had to wait the miles, days, or weeks for that song to naturally leave your head.

What was it for me? It wasn’t a song, but an album: The Replacements last album, All Shook Down, released in 1990.  (You can go here to listen.)  Now you may know I am a big Replacements fan, and had an iPod Touch loaded with most of their albums for the trip. But that player had only 8 gig, and I couldn’t fit everything on there I wanted. So I didn’t put All Shook Down on there, nor their next-to-last disc, Don’t Tell A Soul. And most music nerds and Replacements fans will quickly tell you that those were their two worst albums, so no major loss there. But that doesn’t matter. And truth be told, I actually like All Shook Down. It’s not their best, it doesn’t have the same energy or classic songs as their earlier albums, it doesn’t have Bob, etc. But it’s Paul Westerberg at possibly his sad-sackiest, when he knew the Replacements ship had sunk. And I liked that.

Anyways, it was somewhere in western Montana, before we hit Missoula, where the album started playing in my head. It kept on going around and around like a, well, a Merry Go Round, I guess. And not only did the various tracks of the album play through my head, but I also was having a conversation about the album itself, the song’s meanings, how it all worked into what rock was becoming at the dawn of the 90’s. I guess this stuff happens with an album you have known since you were a teen. I didn’t get into The Replacements until a couple years after they broke up in 1991, but All Shook Down and Don’t Tell A Soul were the first two albums of theirs I got into, warts and all. (Blame how easy it was to get them via BMG Music.) And I was still a teen at that time, when you listen and listen and listen to an album until it gets imbedded into your skull. So I don’t know how long I was thinking about All Shook Down, but I’m guessing it lasted until Glacier National Park.

But it’s not just music. Sometimes I’ve had a craving for a particular food, and knowing that I’m not going to get it for a bit can be torture. Or sometimes it’s torture because you think it would be easy to find that food, but it isn’t. That happened with me with burritos the time I rode the Pacific Coast in 2006. I figured that I would at least see a tacqueria every day, but that wasn’t the case. Or if I did see one, it would be after I ate somewhere else. And I was no camp kitchen nerd in 2006, just a pop can stove and an enamel mug to boil water for coffee and (shudder) instant oatmeal. I remember the last night of camping on that tour, outside San Simeon, where I watched my neighbors in the hiker/biker site make a veritable feast of tacos with their stove setup. All I had was noodles…

But eventually on a long enough bike tour I start missing some of my things. Even a fully loaded bike tour is a journey of asecticism compared to most First World peoples. And I know that some folks are perfectly happy living out of their panniers for years on end and wearing the same clothes until they wore out, I realized that that wasn’t me. Besides the comfort of being in your own home and not having to worry about where you’ll sleep tonight, I started to miss a few specific things. For one, while the Surly Long Haul Trucker did me fine on the big tour of 2011, there was a point where I would have liked to ride my Raleigh Wayfarer three speed. Yeah, I know it would have been sort of impractical for going through the mountains, but I just wanted the change of riding a different bike. Because when I’m home in Portland, I don’t ride the same bike all the time! But it was glorious coming home, back to a stable place, being able to wear different clothes! And a different bike!

But of course, you stay at home too long and you get bored again, wanting to hit that road…

Stuff for Sale, August 2016!

wp-1472076669332.jpgHey all, it’s time for that once in awhile purging of goods and parts! I have a selection of bike parts, camping gear, and clothing available. All of these items are used unless indicated otherwise. Please ask if you have questions about specific items, but you can also google it to find more.

For those outside of Portland, OR, USA, shipping is not included in the price, so we would need to figure that out. And of course the more stuff you buy, the better the rate of shipping you get! And all payment would be via Paypal. For those of you in Portland, we can do local pickup in either the Woodlawn or Hawthorne districts (Hawthorne option not available for a few of the bulky items), and you can pay cash.

If you are interested in anything, please either leave a comment or email me at urbanadventureleague@gmail.com If you are not doing local pickup, please include your zip code so I could figure out shipping.

UPDATE: If an item is crossed out, that means it’s been sold.

Items for sale:

  • B+M Lumotec Classic LED headlamp for dynamo systems: A pretty basic modern dynamo headlamp, but is bullet shaped so it looks ok on a vintage bike. Will work with vintage dynamo systems, like a Dynohub. About 20 lux output with a standlight (meaning light stays on for a bit when wheel stops moving.) $20
  • Pletscher dual leg kickstand. Comes with plastic “shoes” and plastic “sandwich” to help protect the chainstays. $20
  • Fibrax “raincheater” brake pads for steel rims, caliper brake style. Provides better braking for steel rims due to the abrasive material strip in the pad. Good upgrade for an old three speed that still has steel rims! NOTE: Do NOT use on aluminum rims! Pads are new in package, and enough for a full bike, i.e., two sets. $10
  • Dia Compe centerpull brake, front. Probably 70’s vintage. NOT A SET OF BRAKES. $5
  • Tektro R559 sidepull brake, rear. bolt on. Brake reach 55-73 mm. NOT A SET OF BRAKES. $15
  • Bundle and Stow tool roll. Well used. $3
  • Jandd small small top tube bag. Straps to stem and top tube for itty-bitty things. $3
  • Coughlan’s LED headlamp. Batteries not included. $3
  • Cocoon sleeping bag liner, 100% silk, for mummy bags. In good shape, includes stuff sack. $20
  • Bar map brand map case. Fits a 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper in half. Attaches to handlebar with velcro straps. Well used. $3
  • Small vinyl dry bag, blue. Roll top. $3
  • Large compression sack, Outdoor Research brand. $5
  • Vargo foldable windscreen, for a alcohol or solid fuel stove. $5
  • Wald 157 front basket, black. The very large “newsboy” model, and full steel and made in the US! Modern version with adjustable struts. LOCAL PICKUP ONLY. $20
  • Suntour bar end shifter, aka classic bar con. Looks like it’s missing a nut, though. NOT A SET, JUST ONE. $15
  • Tektro FL750 brake lever, right side. Modern “city bike” lever, has 22.2 clamp. NOT A SET, JUST ONE. $10
  • VO Baguette handlebar/saddlebag. Comes with two leather mounting straps. Well used, has a bit of glue residue on front. Not waterproof. $5
  • Nitto Technomic Stem, 22.2, 60 mm, 26.0 clamp. About 240mm in overall height (or 16cm above the minimum insert line). Comes with a shim for a 25.4 if you need it (please indicate that you do!) $20
  • Icebreaker merino t-shirt, size L. 200 series so mid-weight. Brown. Not loose fitting. $10
  • Sugoi merino t-shirt, size L. Black. Has a small white Sugoi logo on left shoulder. Not loose fitting. $10
  • Rivendell MUSA knickers, grey/blue, XL. The final (?) generation of knickers/pants/etc, so all buckles and straps, no zippers or velcro. Well worn and already repaired once. A “fixer upper” as it has some issues that will require repair, like seams coming loose (crotch, rear pocket), missing a button, and various discolorations. $15
  • Robin Hood men’s three speed, 23 inch frame (larger size). This is a true fixer upper project, and has not been in rideable condition since I received it. What you see is what you get. 23 inch frame is good for long legged folks or folks from 5’7″ to maybe 6’1″. (It’s the size I ride and I’m 5’8″.) LOCAL PICKUP ONLY. $50

Sunset/Moonrise Ride, this Thursday! (August 18)

wp-1471394525627.jpgIt’s time to lead another one of my Sunset/Moonrise rides. We’ll meet this Thursday August 18 at Ps and Qs Market, 1301 NE Dekum St. Meet at 6:30 pm, depart at 7.

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 P’s & Q’s (sorry, they are not known for cheap beer), and of course bring an extra layer and lights for the ride home.

Sunset is at 8:12 pm, moonrise 8:26 pm.
It’s going to be a HOT one on Thursday, with a high of 98F/37C. You don’t want to be inside at sunset, right?

Mt Hood Mini Tour, 1-4 August 2016

28795200875_f56fafd12f_oIt’s hard for me to get a good amount of time off from work in the middle of summer, due to the nature of my job. At best, I can hope for a couple extra days off scattered here and there, and cleave out a couple extra days off attached to my regular days off. So I managed to get Monday August 1 to Thursday August 4 off. So where to tour?

Up until a few weeks before the trip, I had my eye on exploring the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. It’s not that far from Portland (maybe 30 miles at its closest reach) and consists of lots of forests and mountains in the Cascade Range on the Washington side of the Columbia River. And the Gifford features two volcanoes, Mount Adams and Mount Saint Helens! But Gifford is known for its fairly intense riding conditions and dearth of spectacular views. And I hadn’t been on a tour, nor riding distances much lately. So it seemed daunting.

But I also hadn’t been to the Mount Hood National Forest for a long time, not since 2012! While the riding can definitely be challenging here, there’s many options for roads and places to camp, and lots of great views. I managed to snag my friend Ed into coming as well. While I love solo touring, it is nice having someone along for the ride sometimes. And Ed has a good amount of knowledge regarding this area, too.

We departed Monday morning, August 1st. I didn’t want this tour to be hurried, and I didn’t want to “push” beyond what I felt like I was capable of. So we were perfectly cool with a leisurely breakfast in town, then a MAX ride to the end of the line in Gresham, then “the usual” way out to Estacada. By then it was past lunch, so we had some pizza, stocked up in the grocery store (last chance for a few days), and rode up the Clackamas River Road into Mt. Hood National Forest. The great thing about heading up into the forest this way is it is a lot less busy than US 26, the main way in. Also, seeing the river is beautiful, and there are plenty of campgrounds. We ended at Roaring River campground, which neither of us had been to. It’s right off the road (most of these campgrounds are) but also featured a few “walk-in” campsites more divorced from the rest of the (albeit small) campground. Plus, the Roaring River was just over the rise, whose sound kept me company all night. (And it was good for soaking sore feet!)

The next day, Tuesday August 2, would be all about climbing. We got our first real climb about five miles in, the dreaded “hill before Ripplebrook” which lulls you into thinking “this isn’t so bad” until you turn the corner and are encountered with soul-sucking grades of 8 to 13 percent! Thankfully, there is the reward of the store in the old Ripplebrook guard station, where I sucked down a soda and met another bicycle camper who was coming from the other direction and heading back to Portland.

And then, more climbing, some of it pretty steep. The highlight of the day was Forest Road 5710, quiet, single lane, steep, and oh yeah, the bridge is out and the road is gone for a small section. Nothing a bike couldn’t handle! Then we found ourselves at Timothy Lake, a reservoir on a branch of the Clackamas. Normally, I’m not big into reservoirs, but this one is pretty nice. And while we could have pushed on further, we decided to camp on the lake for the day, as there were several campgrounds. We headed for the north shore, which featured a not-that-technical singletrack trail that led to several primitive campgrounds on the lake itself! We didn’t get a view of Mount Hood from the lake (we would need to be on the south shore for that) but got to see Mount Jefferson instead. That was nice.

For the third day, Wednesday August 3, we continued on the single track for a couple miles where it actually intersects and overlaps the Pacific Crest Trail. We walked it for a few hundred yards, got to see the awesome of Little Crater Lake, and then continued to climb on roads until we got to the highest point on the trip, Blue Box Pass at 4,024 feet. We could have kept going further east for a bit, or head north so we can actually circumnavigate Mount Hood, but wisely decided to head down the mountain and towards home instead.

There was a bit more up and down, then we got onto the gem of Still Creek Road, a narrow gravel road that parallels the busy US 26. This brought us back to 26 around Zigzag and the other small settlements collectively known as the Mount Hood villages. We could have made it all the way home, but decided we still wanted to camp some more. So we headed to Dodge Park, with its promise of the waters of the Sandy and Bull Run Rivers and showers! Of course, we chose to go the “hard way” over Devil’s Backbone, featuring some of the steepest climbing of the whole trip. But a thrilling descent back down into the Sandy valley brought us to Dodge Park.

The biggest benefit to camping at Dodge was the short day home on Thursday.  It was just a 12 mile ride back to the MAX in Gresham. Ed opted to ride the whole way home. I could have done that too, but it was getting hot and I wanted to arrive home somewhat early and somewhat refreshed!😉

All in all, a good trip. After all the trepidation I had about touring before getting on the road, it did feel good to get back out there. But yeah, I should get back into better shape for more tours! I guess I’ll just have to do more touring…

You can see all the photos from the tour here.

Bike Touring Mt Hood this week!

28073876273_3dddc4f744_oAdventure this week! Tomorrow, myself, Ed, and of course moosemoose will take off for a four day ramble around Mt. Hood! It’s been a good four years since I’ve been up that way, despite Wy’east being in my backyard. Should be fun! And the weather looks promising.

I’ll be out of cell/data range for a lot of it, so reports from the road will be sporadic. But stay tuned!

Times ain’t tough, they’re tedious

a-nice-pre-sunset-burrito-at-deadmadronatreebluff-the-janky-picnic-table-is-a-new-addition-lets-see-how-long-it-will-last-also-there-were-a-lot-of-slurpee-cups-to-clean-up-no-thanks-to-the-nearby-7-11-sumsetburritoclub_2In my last post, I offhandedly noted that I was “going through some stuff”. Well, “stuff” is a way to loosely define what’s been rattling around in my head for far too long. To put it bluntly, I’ve been unsatisfied with myself and what’s around me for a bit.

Now there have been good times, no doubt. And I do manage to have fun from time to time. And nothing real bad has happened to me either, besides April and I breaking up three years ago. But I feel like I’m stuck, like I can’t figure out to get to that next level in my life. And I’m getting tired of this stuck feeling, but still can’t get over it.

How long have I been feeling this? I guess ever since I got back from the Big Tour in 2011. Up until that point, while things were not “easy”, I felt like I was “working towards something”. And I rather naively thought that the tour would change me in a way that I would be different and things would be different when I got back. Well, they weren’t, at least not enough. If anything, the problem was that things were too much “the same” as they were before. But now there was a certain hollowness to it all. I tried my best to distract myself from thinking about it, which worked for some time. But I knew that April and I fell into our old traps. Then we drifted apart, and the relationship fell apart.

Breaking up with someone can be a liberating thing for some, because one can do things without fear of what the other thinks. But I squandered that chance. I had the idea for a few months of moving somewhere else. Instead I dwelled on the dissolusionment of our relationship for far too long. I felt sad for far too long. For awhile I thought to myself, “Well, if you feel like you should feel sad, feel sad.” But I got sick of that.

I’m to the point where I’ve finally gotten over it. But it would be nice to fall in love again. And I felt like I almost had that. I was dating someone for a bit, and things seemed like they were going well, but in the end it didn’t work out. And I’m bummed because I really liked (and still like) that person. And it felt really good to like someone again, and feel liked by someone else. It was the best that I had felt in years. Now I’m back to square one again. It’s always been hard for me to find someone, and I haven’t had that many relationships in my life.

But still, I need to figure out What Happens Next. My job is tolerable at best, but hasn’t felt fulfilling for some time. And I’ve been there for ten years! At least I get some decent benefits, but still, I want something that fulfills me. I also have slacked significantly on being an artist. I draw infrequently, and rarely “for fun.” I haven’t thought about art being a job for quite some time.

And man, I’d like to get out there and bike more. I get jealous when I see everyone’s “epic” bike adventures. But I know that even with the generous amount of vacation time I get, it’s hard to do anything more than a week or so during the summer months. So I wait for the time that I can do a bigger tour. Maybe next year.

And that seems to be the solution to all my dilemmas. Next year. Next year, I’ll move to a different place. Next year, I’ll go back to school to learn a marketable skill. (What skill? I don’t know.) Next year, I’ll get serious about art. Next year, I’ll take the summer off and go on a bike tour or manage a wilderness hostel. Next year, I’ll find love.

But this has been going on for the past few years. And when next year rolls around, nothing happens. Then I wait for the following year. You can see that this isn’t getting me anywhere. But I need to figure out how to get out of this hole I’ve been digging. Maybe stopping digging is the first step?

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!🙂