A bike overnight to Oxbow, plus Coffeeneuring Challenge 2018, No. 1: 14-15 October

How about that weather? Right now we’ve had a persistent ridge of high pressure since about last Tuesday (Oct 9). It looks like it will persist until at least next Tuesday. Two weeks of dry with no rain in sight. Ridgezilla.

I remember the last time we had a persistent ridge like this in October. It was 2013. I was happy about this nice weather, as September was abnormally wet. Plus, this was just after breaking up with April and living in a house where I didn’t really want to be. Since I hadn’t camped that much that summer due to my low mood, I jumped at the opportunity, going on a bike camping trip for Three. Consecutive. Weeks!

Now I knew I wouldn’t be doing that this year.* Despite having more “free time” since I work only two days a week at the hostel, I also had projects I want to work on. Maybe a quick overnight, somewhere close? I thought briefly of doing a Banks-Vernonia/Crown-Zellerbach Trails loop with camping in Vernonia. CZ would be fun, but this would take the better part of two days, plus I hate biking on US 30. I thought of something quicker, something that would probably get Stasia out. So it was decided: hit Oxbow Regional Park on Sunday night, October 14.

I ended up taking the MAX light rail to Gresham around 3pm, getting me out there in time to pick up a little dinner. The ride is about 10 miles. Instead of doing a tried and true route, I decided to mix it up and try something new: Powell Valley-Lusted-Pipeline-Oxbow Dr. I forget that any time I deviate from the tried and true, I’m met with the rolling hills of East County. Thankfully, the traffic was light and the views nice.

I got down to camp about 6 PM, just enough time to set up in the waning daylight. Stasia was there already. There were a couple other sites occupied, but the campground was otherwise quiet.** The sound of the Sandy River would keep us company that night. We managed to get a good little fire going with wood scavenged from other sites, and Stasia and I talked about life until it was time to go to bed.

In the morning it was time for breakfast of oatmeal. Oh yeah, of course coffee! And since this is Coffeeneuring Challenge 2018 time, I used this event as my first submission. (Because I can! 😉 )

This time around I brought the Trangia 27 Stormcooker. Normally I’d go for the smaller Trangia 28 Backpacker for a trip like this. But despite the mild days (70F/21C), the weather forecast called for a good wind, *** and the 27 delivers in this environment. (Of course it wasn’t as windy in the Sandy River Gorge as I expected.)

For the coffee, I picked up some Nossa Familia (local roaster) at the Green Zebra on the way to camp. I also had my Hario slim mill grinder and a Soto “spring” pour over filter holder.

The coffee was delicious, so much so that I had two cups. Then again, I always have two cups! 😉

I took off from camp around 11. The hill getting out of Oxbow can be defined as a “beast” and I even walked the steepest section, as I felt low energy. I debated between riding all the way home or taking the MAX from Gresham, but by the time I got to Gresham I was feeling worn, so I did the smart thing and MAX’d home. I got home, showered, and crashed.

And why was I so wiped? Because I was sick. I had started showing symptoms of a flu or cold on Saturday, but brushed it off. I wondered why I didn’t have much of an appetite for my dinner. And why my sleep was so horrible. Well, that’s why. It’s two days later, and I’m still feeling down. If I had realized how sick I had been, I wouldn’t have gone, wouldn’t have pushed myself. Oh well. At least I got one (most likely) last camping trip in before the winter rains start…

*I did have the slight itch to do a small tour, but I was worrying about my time and didn’t want to spend too much money on travel. Plus, the short days of October don’t appeal to me for multiple nights in the tent.

**There was a salmon spawning fest over the weekend, as the salmon return up the Sandy River. So there was a good number of people in the day-use area when I arrived.

***This is also why I decided to bring the tent vs bivy sack and a thicker camp pad.


Times are tight, times are tough, times are good: Thoughts on working less for others, more for myself.

If you’ve been following along, you know that in the beginning of August I switched to part-time at the hostel, from five days a week to about two. This was done because I was beyond sick of the routine, and I wanted to spend more time doing my own thing like working on art and figuring out creative pursuits to pay the bills.

It’s been about two months since the shift went down. So, how am I doing? Okay, mostly. The hit to the pocketbook has been the biggest sting so far, but I expected that walking into this brave new world. I admit there are moments where I’m wishing for that five day a week paycheck. Then I work my two days a week at the hostel and realize how good of a move it was.

But yeah, money’s tight. I’ve gotten a little bit of illustration work, but it hasn’t been much…yet. (This is the point where I shamelessly remind you that I am available for illustration work.) I need to ramp that up. I also have book ideas that I’ll be working on through 2019, but the payoff for book projects is in the distance.

There’s still the whole “how to make money off bikes” thing, which I’m also working on. Thankfully I have some ideas, especially when it comes to bike touring. I’ve had fun and decent response to my bike touring workshops, so I’m going to be looking at charging money for these in the new year.

But despite the toughness, there are positive things. For one, it’s nice to have more time for fun and personal work. Though I can’t get too carried away with out of town trips, as I need to work on projects here and I don’t want to spend all my money on travel. But it’s nice to be able to have the windows to do stuff without worrying about work getting in the way.

The biggest gain is I feel like An Artist again. I know that I am “an artist”, but it’s been awhile since since I truly felt like one. Before taking this plunge, I barely drew at all over the past couple years. I think the big reason why I went through the trouble to make event postcards over the past few years was it was an excuse to draw! But over the past month I’ve gotten back into the rhythm of drawing, putting pen to sketchbook almost every day. Once I get into the groove, I like to stay in the groove. You’ve probably seen all the comics I’ve been drawing, this is a product of this new productivity, and I hope to keep on going for as long as possible.

The big thing to learn is discipline. It’s never been easy for me to have a structured day, and I’m going to need something resembling that if I want to get further. I don’t want it to be early afternoon and feel like I haven’t done anything. I don’t want to have the feeling of spinning wheels. I think I’m getting towards structure, but it’s not going to be easy…

Reed Ravine Ramble, Sun 2 Dec

Back in the day (oh, 2004) when I started this Urban Adventure League thing, the “league” was intended to be a vehicle to do various bike rides and walks around Portland. I did do a fair amount of walks in the early years, but let that slip. I want to get back into doing walks, especially during the wetter months. I’ve got some new ideas for some interesting walks.

First up is an exploration of the area around Crystal Springs Creek in SE, one of the very few extant (non-buried) streams on the east side! I love this little (less than 3 mile) creek with all of its parks along it.

On Sunday December 2, meet me at the SE Tacoma/Johnson Creek MAX station (Orange Line) at 11 AM. At 11:30 we depart for a six mile urban hike around Crystal Springs Creek, from its mouth to its source, plus the Woodstock and Errol Heights neighborhoods. 

Walk is not necessarily a loop, but will end near transit. We’ll also stop for food and beverage, either along the way or at the end.

Hope you can join me!

Chehalem Range Ramble: The report.

Let’s see: Before Saturday’s ride, I had scheduled a Chehalem Range Ramble five times over the years, and only did it twice. Bad weather seems to like to find my ride. The first one in 2014 was tolerable, a bit of rain. When I did it last in February of 2017, I had already not done the ride twice so I was determined to lead it no matter what. While it didn’t really rain on the ride, it did the night before, and the elevation of the Chehalem Mountains meant we saw snow at the top. Can you say “sketchy descent?”

This is what I had in my mind as Saturday October 6 approached. The week had been a decent one, but a front was coming through on Friday, promising rain. Oh sure, the forecast said that it should be done by Saturday morning, but you know how that goes. I went to bed on Friday night hearing rain, and expecting to wake up to it. But the big surprise? It wasn’t. Nothing on the radar, and the NWS calling for a mostly dry day. I abandoned my rain jacket and headed to Hillsboro.

We had seven riders, including myself. There was supposed to be ten, but I was fully prepared for the last-minute bailing. We left the cafe in Hillsboro at 10, headed south. The first couple miles were urban/suburban slop, then we left the Urban Growth Boundary into farmland.

At about mile 10, the climb began. As I’ve said previously, the Chehalem Mountains are not tall, but they are steep. There’s no easy approach to them, it’s just up for at least the first bit. Then we hit the gem of the ride, Finnegan Hill Road, an unpaved lane that maintained a steady 5-6% grade for the most part.

As I figured, I was the slowest. But I didn’t let that bother me. I enjoyed the momentary solitude, soaking up the bucolic scenery of the climb.

We got up to the high point, Bald Peak State Park, at about 1 PM. The high forecast for the day was about 60F/16C, but it did feel a lot cooler up here, so much so that people layered back up while enjoying a lunch break. (Yes, I did make coffee!) 

Now was the big descent, all paved, but with a maximum of 18% on Laurelwood Road. It took us hours to get up, but minutes to leave the Chehalem Range. We had a pit stop in Gaston, then rambled on country roads to Forest Grove (with a pit stop at McMenamins Grand Lodge), and finally a straight-shot on meh Baseline Road to Hillsboro.

The ride was 40 miles total, with about 2600 feet of climbing. I decided to cut out the Gaston gravel loop because I felt that the Chehalem Range was enough for me for the day. If anything, I need to get back out this way at some point for more explorations. But I think I might do it solo, where I can just do it at my own pace without worrying about slowing other folks down.

Coffeeneuring Challenge 2018: The Best Intentions

Yass! Another #coffeeneuring challenge. I’m excited.

The Chasing Mailboxes Coffeeneuring Challenge is a relaxed cycling endeavor for people everywhere, and it’s coming your way once again, starting October 12, 2018. If you like riding a bike and enjoy drinking coffee or tea (or even hot chocolate or cider), consider this fall challenge.

Back for year eight, the Coffeeneuring Challenge has almost reached the age of being a tradition. In that vein, I wanted to throw out this year’s theme of intention. Coffeeneuring gives a ride a certain element of intention, but what else inspires us to keep coming back to the challenge each year, or even to try it for the first time? The peaceful act of motion on two wheels? Meeting friends? Solitude? The coffee at the end of the ride rainbow? You tell me.

The Coffeeneuring Challenge began as a kind of antidote to the big randonneuring rides of spring and summer. Unlike randonneuring, the rides can be…

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Outer NE New Parks Ride, 3 Nov 2018

Over the past five years or so, the outer reaches of NE Portland has seen a bunch of new parks open! Most of these parks have some pretty cool features suited to the needs of the Twenty-First Century Portlander, like accessible play areas, skate parks, water features, picnic areas, and (oh yeah) bathrooms. On top of that, this area has a bunch of not-well-known (well, not well known to those not living there) parks, greenspaces, and pseudo-parks.

On Saturday November 3, take a ride with me to explore these new and obscure parks! We’ll meet at 11 AM at 
Miss Zumstein Bakery, 5027 NE 42nd Av. Enjoy some coffee and vittles, at 11:30 AM we depart on a 15-ish mile ramble!

This ride is NOT a loop, and will end up somewhere most likely inconvenient to 95% of the riders, so keep that in mind. (It’s okay to bail along the way.) We will end up at a place with food and beverage, and transit will be within a few miles of us.

This ride won’t be a quick one, as we’ll stop at parks to enjoy their features. There will be some unpaved action, too. Come prepared to have some fun!

But the summer lingereth. (Plus a Heavy Duti update.)

Oh, Northwest weather, you got all contrary again. The autumnal equinox hit, and what do you do? Give us summer like weather, dry and highs in the 80’s F. Okay, fine. As long as it doesn’t come with all that haze and smoke, I think I can survive. 😉

But no, weather like this is still great, and it reminds me why this time of year can be the best. (Especially since I don’t go to school.) Being outside is joyful. I need to get a overnight camping trip or small tour done, but remember that the temperature drops significantly overnight due to the shortness of the day.

To celebrate this weather, I took out my most “summer” bike, the Schwinn Heavy Duti. Since I got a bunch of stuff done to it back in May, I’ve been riding it a lot more than I had in possibly the 3 1/2 years previous. Having that front brake makes me more confident on it! 

I’ve ridden it the last week straight. It’s a fun, yet practical bike. That front basket holds a lot, and I’ve strapped a bunch of stuff to the rear rack. (Thank you, rat trap rack!) I also loaded my rear Carradice panniers for a grocery run, and it did well, though made the bike a bit sluggish with all the weight.

I haven’t done much else to the bike since the big upgrade except swap out the tires. The front Schwalbe Fat Frank tire was starting to wear (more on that in a bit), so I decided to put on some Nashbar Fuels. These tires have a semi-aggressive tread on it, good for street and trail. I thought I would use them for the Bantam but got the Kenda Small Block Eight tires instead. So far, they have worked pretty good.

The only failure on the Heavy Duti has been the bottle dynamo. After trying it for a few months, I’m done with the Nordlicht dynamo. This was supposed to be “the best of the best” as far as bottle dynamos go. Yeah, maybe it’s too good: it rubs through the sidewall. Now before you go “Don’t all bottle dynamos do that?” The answer is no. I never had that happen with the AXA HR. And the wear was in a short amount of time. I tried running it against the rim, but it sucks in the rain (and still manages to cause sidewall wear due to tire bulge). So I think I’m going to find another AXA so I can keep riding this bike.

And wouldn’t you know it: today (October 3) is the fourth anniversary of me buying this bike! It is currently the second oldest in the stable (I’ve had the Crested Butte since October 2012.) Hope I can get four more years of use out of it!

Remnants and Relics Ride, Part 2, Saturday October 20

2018-10-01_07-20-53-01-1440475052.jpegI thought you folks weren’t interested in history bike rides anymore! Then 50 of you showed up for my Remnants and Relics Ride during Pedalpalooza this past June, so maybe I was wrong? 😉 Anyways, that ride was a lot of fun, maybe too much, as we only managed to hit up the spots on the west side before most of you rode home. So along with Dan Haneckow, author of Portland Then and Now, we’ll be doing a Part Two concentrating on the east side of town!

Meet us at 2 PM on Saturday October 20th in front of the City of Portland: Archives and Records Management office at 1800 SW 6th Ave (at Montgomery). At 2:30 PM we’ll head off on a ten mile bicycle tour exploring the various remnants of Portland’s past, reminders of a bygone era hidden in plain sight! Highlights will include old streetcar tracks, hidden springs, vintage communication, mile posts, and more! Ride not a loop but will end near food/beverage/transit.

Bonus! The Oregon Archives Crawl will be happening on the same day, from 11 AM to 3 PM. Check out the three stops on the crawl (one of which conveniently enough is the Archives office) and come on a history ride!