A quick sale at the store!

moosemoose realizes that yes, it'd be "easier and quicker" to have a zine in digital format. But we are old school around here. Plus, you can't get the personal touch, like handwritten notes or old flyers, via the ones and zeroes. So consider purchasing a

moosemoose realizes that yes, it’d be “easier and quicker” to have a zine in digital format. But we are old school around here. Plus, you can’t get the personal touch, like handwritten notes or old flyers, via the ones and zeroes. So consider purchasing a

Hello all! I’m going to be going to Lake Pepin in just another week! And the cash flow is a li’l low here, so I’m having a quick sale to fill the coffers!

What do we have?

  • The newest edition of Zinester’s Guide to Portland is now $4! That’s half-off cover price!!
  • Button five packs are just $3!
  • Get both issues of my comic NEW OLD STOCK for $4! That saves ya two bucks off cover price.
  • Or get the zine and comic four pack for $8. That’s both issues of NEW OLD STOCK, the CYCLE TOURING PRIMER, and the BIKE FUN PRIMER. A savings of $3!

This sale will ONLY be going on until 5 pm Pacific Time on Thursday May 5th. That way I can make sure you get the stuff before I leave!

Please go to my store to order. Please note that the sale is ONLY AVAILABLE THROUGH THE STORE!

Wilkes Creek Ramble, 26 April 2016

I’ve lived in this town for fifteen damn years. Fifteen! It’s long enough to feel that you’ve seen and done everything possible in Portland. But still, I search out things I haven’t done yet, places I have not been.

Tuesday was a day off, and a decent weather day, but the high scraping 60F/16C was no 90F/32C of the Tuesday previous. Time for a bike ride. But where to? I had a more ambitious goal to explore some of the buttes on the fringe of Gresham, but I got going too late in the day to make it work. (Plus, the clouds started to roll in. If I want to go to the tops of hills, I want to have the best views possible.)

I started to do a mental list of places I could go. But everything that came up was a place that I’d been to recently, in the past month or so. I wanted something different. I got on the bike and headed eastward. I passed through Cully and into Parkrose, a place I hadn’t been to in awhile. I found myself riding the bike lane* on outer NE Sandy Blvd with the idea of connecting to either the Columbia Slough path or the Marine Drive path somewhere out there, in the high hundreds.

I came across the turnoff to Wilkes Creek Natural Area, a spot I had explored once two years ago when I picked up Spiral Cage/Robert from the Gorge. Why not hit it again?  I rode the narrow singletrack along the creek up to its upper terminus. That’s when I saw my destination in the distance: A grassy patch of land with a bollard placed at its entry and a parks department sign.

What I would be entering is known as the Wilkes Creek Headwaters Natural Area. It doesn’t show up on most maps (my Google map doesn’t show it, though the Bike There map does include it), and the parks website doesn’t list it. I gleaned some bits and pieces from the internet: Like a lot of parcels out this side of Portland, it was originally used for agricultural purposes, specifically filbert and holly.** It lay fallow for years, then the city purchased it five years ago and has been slowly rehabilitating it.

What I found was a park that was “rough around the edges”. The lower portion (downhill, and the most north) was a field with a doubletrack running through it. The middle portion had Wilkes Creek running through it with a bridge over it, and looked a bit more pastoral. The upper reach consisted of a heavily wooded ravine, the headwaters of the creek. And above that was the overgrown remnants of the filbert orchard.

I explored this area for somewhere between a half hour to an hour. It wasn’t that large, and since it was a long parcel, I could see houses on either side. But somehow I still felt pretty removed from things. A lot of the tramping around involved bushwacking, as the trails besides the double track bit were either very rough or non-existent. In fact, the upper area was pretty much a slog through high grass and brush. (I’m pretty sure the slow leak on the Bantam I noticed today was because of all of this.)

Somehow, all this brought me back to my youth. While I grew up some 3,000 miles from here, I did do my time tramping around in spots like this. In fact, for the first 12 years of my life the lot behind my house was an overgrown lot. You bet I spent a lot of time there!*** And I was always exploring around creeks (in the parlance of New England, “brooks”). I remember one summer day I decided to ramble up a brook that I had known about for awhile, just to see the source. Today I had ended up at a rough and tumble spot that featured the source of a brook, er. creek. And Wilkes Creek is significant because it is the ONLY creek in the city of Portland that STILL flows into the Columbia Slough (and then the Columbia River).****

Spots like this give me hope. For one, it’s cool to see that the city is still trying to actively preserve spaces like this, however small they may be. But more importantly for me, it reminds me that I still haven’t seen or done everything in this town. There’s more to explore. It’s just going to take a bit more effort to get there.

After Wilkes Creek, I headed down to the Columbia Slough and then the Marine Drive bike path towards home. Ultimately I logged in 30 miles on this ride. But Wilkes Creek was the highlight!

*Which I will say has a decent “rumble strip” on the fog line. Thanks, ODOT!

**Just a few blocks away, there are still actively farmed parcels in between subdivisions and industry.

***One of the big features of that empty lot was a big old elm planted closest to my house. I was really happy that they saved that elm, though cut down the other trees that had been growing there.

****All the other creeks flowing into the Slough are paved over. The remaining “daylighted” creeks flow into the Willamette or into Johnson Creek, which flows into the Willamette.

The long strange trip of my Crested Butte

Remember when I was trying to sell the Raleigh Crested Butte? Yeah, me too. Now just a half-year since the attempt, not only do I still have the Crested Butte, but I’ve done a lot of stuff to it, some of it twice! Ay yi yi. If I wasn’t so gung-ho about selling the bike after getting the Bantam, I would have kept everything as-is, and saved myself quite a bit of cash. Live and learn.

When I decided to keep the bike, since the front rack was already stripped, I decided to try out a rear rack since I had never had one on here before. The generic “mouse trap” style seemed to work for a bit. Then I did the Ainsworth camping trip and loaded the rear rack up. I came to realize that I didn’t like this rear setup. The main reason is that because the geometry on the Butte is so slack, in order to avoid heel strike with panniers (even with such long chainstays!) I had to have the rack real far back, so that the bags were just behind the axle. This created a “wag the dog” feel when riding. Add to that the added weight ended up pushing the rack down into the fenders (due to wonky setup) causing rub.

The shop suggested that I go with a front rack. Ugh. Didn’t I just get away from that on this bike? But I thought about it and realized that both the Raleighs were set up the same way, which I didn’t care much for. (Mostly because I’m weird like that.) But I also realized how useful having some sort of front load capability would be.

Now the Bantam Rambleneur has a small front rack, and can hold a small front basket. But the emphasis is on “small”. And the Schwinn Heavy Duti has a giant front basket, so there’s that. But the problem with the Heavy Duti is that it’s a single-speed coaster brake bike. To make it more useful for day-to-day use would be to get a front brake. But any way to make that work is not going to be cheap, and it’s still a heavy single speed bike. So why not get a front load handler on the Butte? It would be useful, and utilitarian.

So this time around I decided to do it a little differently. Rather than a front rack with basket, I wanted to get a more platform/porteur style rack. The problem with porteur racks are they ain’t cheap. Unless, of course, the rack is made by Wald, the classic American steel basket and rack manufacturer. I had been eyeing their 257 rack, the “pizza” porteur, for some time. Basically, it’s like they took the 157, the giant delivery basket, cut off the front and the two small sides, leaving the back and bottom. (In fact, the design is based around couriers who did exactly that!) Of course, because it’s Wald, it’s steel and weighs more than other porteur racks. But it’s also lots cheaper, and I really don’t mind the weight. (If anything, it means the Crested Butte is ready for the Heavy Hill Bike Challenge!)

And I really like this rack. Yes, it’s not light, and the first day that I had it, I had to get used to all the junk in front. But after that, you don’t really notice it much. (Except when you get off and the front flops around. I need to figure out a wheel stabilizer!) And man, having a nice big platform on front is very useful! Not long after getting it installed, I did a run to IKEA and loaded it up, including putting an area rug on there. It did the job.

The other back-and-forth-and-back-and-forth thing is the dynamo lighting. If you’ve followed the whole chronology of this bike, you’ll know that I started with battery lights, then went with a bottle dynamo setup, then switched that over to the XO-3, so back to batteries, then I got a front dynamo wheel, then sold that when I was getting ready to sell the bike. When I realized that I wanted to keep the bike, I decided to go back to a bottle dynamo, since I had a Spanninga in the parts bin and a basic B+M lying around, augmenting it with the Spanninga Pixeo fender light that came from the Wayfarer.

Well, the Spanninga dynamo was crap, and it didn’t take long before it got beat up and stopped working. Also, it did wear down the sidewall. The problem was that the Spanninga uses a small plastic “runner”, the rotating bit that runs along the sidewall of the tire. After fighting with this setup for a couple weeks, I decided to take the plunge and order the reliable AXA HR sidewall dynamo. This is what I had on the Crested Butte in the first place! It uses a larger rubber runner, so that the contact with tire is minimized. This also reduces the “whirring” noise (and drag) associated with sidewall dynamos. It works great! (I also got a better B+M headlamp from a bike shop that was closing.) And I took the Spanninga rear tail light that was on the Raleigh Wayfarer (RIP) and put it on here.

What else did I do?

  • I got new fenders (mudguards). The old Planet Bike Cascadias served me well for over three years, but they were cracking and getting long in the tooth. So I opted to get some SKS fenders. The big reason is because they are the widest fenders you can find for 26 inch wheeled bikes, 65 mm wide. The old fenders were a little close to the tire on the sides, so this was to alleviate that issue.
  • New handelbars! The Civia Duponts were OK, but I wanted something with even more back sweep to alleviate fit issues. So after much deliberation, I decided to get the Nitto Bosco bars in cromoly. Man, these bars really come back! It makes the ride A LOT more comfy, and I’m not stretched out like I used to be.
  • New tires! I realized how sexy cream tires looked on this bike, so I went back to that. The Rubena Cityhoppers are always reliable, so I went with that. This time I went with the basic version (no extra puncture protection) since they are SO MUCH CHEAPER than the ones with it. I added some Stan’s in the tube to alleviate flatting issues.
  • I got some tuning up, too. New brake pads and a chain are the big things there. The Deore rear deraileur isn’t in the best shape, but I’ll ride it until it wears out. The shop also extended the rear rack a bit, as I was getting a bit of heel strike.
  • The Brooks B68 went back on. Since this is now my most upright bike, it’s best to have the widest saddle on it. Also, I threw on an ABUS rear wheel “cafe” lock.

Alright, that’s enough! The Raleigh Crested Butte has been reborn as a supremely utilitarian and supremely comfy “daily driver”. And it looks classy to boot! Who would have ever thought this bike was once a mountain bike?😉

Up on Whipple Creek, my bike sent me. (19 April 2016)

It’s been Round Two of summerlike heat in the Pacific Northwest for the last few days. High temps above 80F! (27C) Winter cold now such a distant memory. The desire to be outside all the time, especially since being indoors is too damn hot. Like always, I had Tuesdays and Wednesday off. I could have gone camping, but wasn’t thinking about it (or motivated to do so.) But I definitely wanted to do some on-bike adventuring. Where to? Somewhere new and a bit different.

I’ve got a list of metro area destinations that I’ve been wanting to go to, but for some reason have never gotten to. On that list is Whipple Creek Regional Park, in Clark County, some ten miles north of downtown Vancouver, Washington. I had known about it since I picked up the first edition of Wild in the City twelve years ago.* I was intrigued by this wooded park, but it’s only until now that I’ve gone! Part of that problem is not only is it across the Columbia, but far enough from anywhere I’d normally go over there, and not on the way to somewhere else. And unlike some far-flung destinations this side of the Columbia, I can’t take the MAX light rail to aid me in my journey. (Every C-TRAN experience seems to involve three buses.)

I left the house in the early afternoon, which as many can tell you, is not the smartest strategy for a bike ride on day that would hit 90F/32C. But I had worked until 10 pm the night before, and with getting home and winding down, it’s hard to get to bed early. (To top it off, I am no early riser, so getting up at 7 am for a bike ride after going to bed around midnight isn’t going to happen.) Still, I managed to stay hydrated and didn’t wilt too much in the sun.  And thankfully, Whipple Creek is a wooded, shaded respite. Very little of it is “out in the open”, so I didn’t have to worry too much about ol’ man sun beating down on me.

When I arrived, I was greeted with a map outlining the five or so miles of trail looping around the park. The park is criss-crossed by creeks, so it’s a series of ridges and ravines. All of the trails are open to hikers, bikers, and equestrian use. And right at the south entrance of the park, there is an equestrian center. I saw four horses during my time looping the trails, and horse shit was unfortunately everywhere.

And getting into the park, the trail was a bit rough, full of loose gravel and steep pitches. I was worried that all the trails were going to be like that, but luckily I turned onto what’s called the South Ridge Loop. Here was a mostly well graded soft surface trail winding through the woods, with a few roots thrown in for good measure. It wasn’t any real technical mountain biking, but then again, I wasn’t looking for that!

And that sort of sums up my experience: pleasant trails winding their way through the woods. Yeah, there were some steep pitches, and the trails were pretty beat in some sections. I did have to walk for a couple short bits. I could see the evidence of trail repair and building, piles of gravel on occasion and fenced off areas where they were building new trails to alleviate the damage on the degraded ones.

To compare it to some other metro area parks, it was a little bit like riding around Powell Butte, except without an epic view. Or it was like riding around Tryon Creek State Park, if they allowed bikes on the trails.**

I did a good circuit on the trails, logging about four miles. There were a few side trails I could have explored more, but I felt like I got a good picture of the place and its riding quality.

Overall, Whipple Creek was great. I only saw a few people while out there (and four horses), though I’m guessing it could get busier on a weekend, though this place seems so off the beaten path I don’t think that it’s particularly likely.*** Which is interesting, in light of the dearth of easily accessible mountain biking areas around the Portland area. In Portland itself there’s only Powell Butte and a handful of trails in Forest Park (and local mountain bikers have been fighting for more access there for years.) With the talk of adding mountain biking trails to the new North Tualatin Mountains Park (and the inevitable push back from a few local residents), it’s nice to know there are other mountain bikeable areas around. While the trails on Whipple Creek weren’t that extreme (which could be the reason why “serious” mountain bikers ignore this place) they were good enough for me. All I’m looking for is a nice biking experience in the woods, removed enough from civilization (and civilization’s noises) to give me a peaceful, contemplative experience.

After doing my time at Whipple Creek, I headed southward, swinging through the bucolic landscape of the Salmon Creek Trail, then heading into Vancouver for a nightcap before heading home.

Will I be back to Whipple Creek? Most likely, though I don’t know exactly when. It’d be nice to incorporate it into a longer ride through the far flung places in Clark County. And hopefully on a cooler day.

Ride with GPS route here.

*Unfortunately, it’s not in the current edition, so don’t bother looking. And let me clarify: when I say “a dozen years ago”, it means that I got my hands on a copy around 2004, though the book was printed in 2000, one year before I moved here.

**At Tryon Creek, they only allow bikes on the paved trail that parallels Terwilliger Blvd. You’ll never get close to the creek on a bike.

***For example, when I mentioned where I went to my friends in Vancouver, they had no clue about this place.

Tweed Ride 2016 ride report

On Sunday April 17 we here in Portland had our annual Tweed Ride. This was an interesting Portland Tweed Ride 2016 for me, mostly for three reasons:

  1. While I have helped in some capacity with the Tweed Ride since 2012, this is the first time I was the major force in creating the route.* Not only that, but I would be LEADING the actual ride, rather than be somewhere in the pack.
  2. It was HOT. While we had a warm Tweed Ride in 2014, it had only hit the low 70’s. Sunday hit the low 80’s. While it’s easy to dress for Tweed Ride in temps up to maybe 65F, it gets hard after that since most Tweed is pretty heavy-weight. I made a “compromise” outfit of (synth) knickers, long (thin) socks, Clarks boots, gauze cotton shirt, tweed cap, and a nice cheap tweed vest I picked up at the Goodwill on Saturday night. Not my preferred outfit, but it worked!
  3. This was the first year I brought a (gasp!) derailleur gear bike! Every other year that I have participated in the Tweed Ride (save for the first year, when I rode a single speed) I’ve ridden a British three speed, as they are the most appropriate bike for a Tweed Ride. I could have pulled out the Raleigh Superbe, but it still needs fine tuning (like at least truing the front wheel.) I hadn’t ridden the Raleigh Crested Butte on Tweed before, but it’s pretty Tweedy in its day-to-day iteration. Plus, the giant Wald front rack carried my picnic basket!

Anyways, I met the masses at Lownsdale Square downtown around 2pm. We had maybe 80 folks on the ride. Our truncated** route took us through the heart of downtown, across three Willamette River bridges including the new Tillikum, along the waterfront, and by the bike mural in SE. We ended at Old Portland Hardware wear prizes were given out, then people dispersed to do their own thing.

I didn’t take many photos, as it’s hard to do that when you’re leading a ride! But if you want a good representation of what it looked like, there’s a nice pictorial report on the Oregonian.

And the ride route here.

*There was someone else who was supposed to do this. They sketched out half of the route but had to bail. So I took over the main responsibility. Carla, the chief organizer, also helped by doing the ride along with me.

**We originally hoped for a more ambitious second half after the tea stop, but energy levels were low.

Tweed Ride is TOMORROW! Here’s some tips and tricks. — Portland Tweed Ride 2016

Hello friends! Just reminding y’all that the 2016 Portland Tweed Run is tomorrow, Sunday April 17! Are you excited? Are you ready? Here’s some things to consider: Be punctual! We’ll be meeting at Lownsdale Square at 2 pm, and depart at 3. While it’s perfectly fine to get there at 2:55 pm, especially if you’ve…

via Tweed Ride is TOMORROW! Here’s some tips and tricks. — Portland Tweed Ride 2016

Spruce, salal, and surf: A couple nights at Cape Lookout, 5-7 April 2016

I had a “three day weekend” last week, which for me falls mid-week. I had no idea that the weather would be so nice when I planned the extra day off, weeks in advance, but I had the hope that with that window, I could have a nice little trip to the Oregon Coast.

Ah yes, the coast. I grew up on the East Coast, Connecticut, with a brief stint in North Carolina. The past sixteen years have been spent on the West Coast, first a brief foray in California, and then here.* Like many a coastal native, I’d consider (and do!) a move cross-country to another coast than somewhere in the middle. There’s something about having the ocean at hand, even if it’s out of reach most of the time.

Growing up, my family regularly went to the beach. Granted, it was possibly the dumpiest beach in existence (Silver Sands State Park, aka “Milford Beach”) on a lowly, dirty arm of the Atlantic (Long Island Sound), but I loved my days there. As I grew older and got weird about my body, I became more ambivalent about “the beach”. For example, that year in North Carolina? For most of it, I lived less than five miles by bike from the beach. But I was fifteen and awkward, so I rarely went there.

And while Portland is relatively close to the coast, it’s still the furthest distance I’ve ever lived from the ocean. To get to the beach, it’s either a day trip commitment, as it’s a two hour drive one way. And if I wanted to bike it, it’s at the bare minimum a one day bike ride to get there. So while I always tell myself that I’m going to go to the ocean more often, it happens fairly infrequently. In fact, the last time I actually was on the Pacific Coast was in late 2014. I didn’t see the ocean at all in 2015. Sure, I saw both the Puget Sound and Strait of Georgia since then. While going to the sea is still cool and worthy, there’s nothing like that unrestrained ocean roar and surf, the idea of looking out into a blue horizon, knowing that Asia is still several thousand miles away at its closest. Lake Superior is great, but still doesn’t compare.

Time to remedy that.

On Tuesday morning, I hopped the Tillamook Wave bus from Portland Union Station to the near-coastal town of Tillamook (yes, where they make the cheese.) From there it’s a fairly easy 11 mile ride to Cape Lookout State Park, right on the coast. Cape Lookout has hiker/biker campsites that are my hands-down favorite along the Pacific Coast.** The sites are separated a bit from the main campground and resemble something out of the Ewok landscape, with tall Sitka Spruce trees above and salal everywhere. And it’s right next to the beach! In fact, I got the choicest spot (5) from which you can actually see the waves. All this for six bucks a night!

I spent two nights in the campground, hanging out, walking the beach. On my “off day” of Wednesday, rather than hike the Cape Lookout Trail to the end of the cape, a 10 mile round-trip from the campground, I decided to ride my unencumbered bike to Cape Meares, 12 miles north of Cape Lookout. Cape Meares features a cool lighthouse that was unfortunately not open, but the views around the cape are great. I also stopped in the small villages of Oceanside (for the beach) and Netarts (for supplies.)

I had to return to Portland on Thursday. Originally I considered riding all the way back, but in order to do it easily in a day, I’d have to ride along busy and narrow Route 6, which wasn’t that thrilling for me. (My more preferred routing back via the Nestucca River Road is about 20 miles longer than OR 6, 85 vs 68, plus has a lot more climbing, something I didn’t want to tackle in one day. If I had two days, sure.)*** Also, it got really hot for early April, a high of 85F/29C in Portland, a record for that early. As it was I practically wilted when I got back into Tillamook from the beach, as it was already hot there. So back by bus!

I hope to get back out to the coast at least once more this year, if not more. Heck, I should do a little tour down it…

*I did spend a full month in Arizona, but that doesn’t count, right?

**There may be better sites in Southern California, but I haven’t been to them yet.

***My original idea was to take the bus out on Monday afternoon, giving me two nights at the beach. Then I could do Wed-Thurs back along the Nestucca. Unfortunately, it was still rainy on Monday, so I scrapped that idea. I’d rather have two dry nights of camping.