Pedalpalooza is coming! Here’s all the planned Urban Adventure League/Society of Three Speeds rides/events for June 2018.

IMG_20180419_155956-01.jpegDeadlines, deadlines. The Pedalpalooza print calendar deadline (in)conveniently occurs while I am out of town. So I’ve spent the last week or two trying to sort it all out! And finally by 10 AM on the Sunday when myself and Emee board the Empire Builder eastward to St. Paul, sorted I am!

It’s a good slate of eight different events for June, about my average count (read: more than I really should.) As always, there’s things I do every Pedalpalooza, and new stuff. Some stuff open to anyone, some stuff so weirdly esoteric you probably won’t come. ūüėČ So without further ado, here’s what I’m doing:

  • Sat June 2-Sun June 3: Three Speed Campout¬†Camp via three speed! We’ll be heading to Stub Stewart State Park. 22 mi ride (one way), 1/2 on country roads, 1/2 on rail trail. Supply stop in Banks, halfway on ride. Limited to 3, 4, 5 spd IGH bikes. Register here:
  • Wed June 6, 6 PM: Remnants and Relics Ride Skidmore Fountain/Ankeny Plaza, 18 SW 1st Ave¬†10mile tour hitting up many of the remnants of Old Portland that still remain. Ride not a loop but will end near transit and food/beverages. Presented with Dan Haneckow of Cafe Unknown.
  • Tues June 12, 6:30 PM: Bike Touring Workshop¬†Velo Cult Bike Shop, 1969 NE 42nd Av¬†Learn more about bike touring and camping. Discussing equipment, planning, and cost as well as day-to-day life on the road. Limit 12 participants, registration required.
  • Sun June 17, 5 PM: Proper Pedal Picnic¬†Green Zebra Grocery, 3011 N Lombard St¬†A classy type of picnic ride, this one is about stepping it up. Dress up nicely and think about nice foods and beverages to bring. Blankets and nice picnic setups are good too. Ride will be approx 5mi to mystery picnic destino. Bring lights/layers.
  • Mon June 18, 6:30 PM: Two Speed Kickback Ride¬†Peninsula Park Rose Garden, 700 N Rosa Parks Way¬†A casual 10mi cruise on bikes equipped w/ a two speed internally geared hub, Doesn’t matter what brand or if it’s kickback, automatic, or trigger shifter. End at food and (adult) beverage.
  • Mon June 18, 9 PM: For the love of the bottle (dynamo) ride¬†Lucky Labrador Tap Room, 1700 N Killingsworth St A¬†10mi cruise by night, kept company by the whirring of the dynamo wheel against tire. Dynamo must function and power at least front light. Please, NO HUB DYNAMO SYSTEMS! Battery light as backup OK. Bottom bracket dynamos OK!
  • Wed June 27, 6 PM: Slough Country Ramble¬†Kenton/N Denver Ave MAX Station¬†Let’s explore the nearer reaches of the Columbia Slough! This approximately 10 mi ride will feature sleepy reaches of this waterway, plus other secret spots. Not a loop but will end near transit/food/beverages.
  • Wed June 27, 6 PM: Three Speed Ride¬†Paul Bunyan Statue across from¬†Kenton/N Denver Ave MAX Station¬†Casual paced ramble of approx. 10mi will explore some fun areas. Three speeds encouraged, but any bicycle welcome. Ride not a loop, but ends near food/drink/transit.
  • Thurs June 28, 7 PM: Sunset Moonrise Ride¬†P’s & Q’s Market, 1301 NE Dekum St¬†A 5mi ride to a good spot to see both sunset and moonrise. Stock up on supplies and libations at P’s & Q’s, and of course bring a blanket, extra layer, and lights for the ride home. Sunset 9:03 PM, moonrise 9:30 PM.

A taste of summer.

The last few days we’ve gotten our first tease of summer here in the Pacific Northwest, a “spring heatwave” if you will. It’s been pretty nice since last week, but since Sunday we’ve seen the thermometer go up: 65F/18C on Sunday, 74F/23C on Monday, and 80F/27C on Tuesday. Eighty degrees! But it’s supposed to get even hotter tomorrow (Wednesday), topping out at 85F/29C. Wow! It’s supposed to be low-80s on Thursday, then showers roll back in on Friday and it cools down to 60F/16C, which is normal for this time of year.

When these previews of summer hit, I try to take full advantage of them. I’m glad that my Three Speed Ride happened on Sunday. On Monday I had an event to go to downtown in the evening so I rolled out the Bantam then headed north to St. Johns, over the bridge, and into Forest Park via Springville Road* to ride nine miles of the Leif Erikson Trail. It was great. I hadn’t been out there since fall, and thankfully the trail was pretty dry. Coupled with the ride up to Powell Butte on Sunday, I got quite a bit of “mountain biking” done recently!

Tuesday I had to work, so in the evening I pulled out the Trangia 27 Stormcooker stove set and headed over to Farragut Park to make a taco dinner outside. I love cooking outside for dinner, especially when it’s too damn hot to do it indoors. And using a camp stove gives me a little taste of camping. I wish I could get out this week, but work has gotten in the way.

I know I’ll think differently in August, but I can’t wait for summer. And there’s something about summer in the Northwest that you can’t know unless you’ve done one. It’s just the way it feels. Back home in Connecticut summer usually meant hazy humid days. When I lived in North Carolina for a year, it was even hotter and more humid. And the Bay Area? Ha! What’s summer?** But here we have long and dry days. Yeah, it can (and will) get hot, but you can find relief in the shade. And it cools down at night. So when I get that first feeling of that warm air, I just think of all the promise and adventure summer can bring. And I can’t wait.

*If you know Forest Park, you know that Springville from the St. Johns Bridge is ridiculously steep. I know this, but conveniently forget until I do it. (How steep? Well, the inclinometer maxxed out at 20%. Yes, I had to walk a bit.) Unfortunately the other option is Germantown Road. The grade is mellower at about 6%, but it’s a narrow and winding road with no shoulder and lots of fast traffic. Fun going down, though.

**If you don’t know what I mean, soak in this quote that it commonly (mis)attributed to Mark Twain, “The coldest winter I ever spent is a summer in San Francisco.”

A quick before work ramble, 14 February 2018

While my Monday Ramble wasn’t exactly the bestest, I did have a moment of clarity where I realized that I needed to “bike just for the sake of it” more. And it’s hard to do that in the middle of winter, with all the dark. But now as we creep towards spring, it means more opportunity to sneak in a little ramble of an hour or two, something less than a day ride. And that will be good.

On Wednesday February 14th I had a chance to do just that. I had to work in the PM (starting at 3), so the morning to early afternoon was free. Typically my mornings off consist of rolling out of bed after nine (yes, I am no early riser), making a lazy breakfast, fooling around on the internet, and general putzing around the house until it’s time to take off. But this morning was different, as someone was dropping stuff off at my house at 9 and Emee was picking me up at 10 to drop off my Bantam to get some work done. So I was ready early.

After dropping off the bike, Emee and I had a late breakfast in a cafe. She had obligations starting at 12:30, so I hung out by myself awhile, writing letters and drinking coffee. Finally there reached a point where I couldn’t just sit there anymore, I needed to do something. But what? It was 1:30 PM, and I didn’t need to do anything else before work. Why not ride around a bit, burn off all that caffeine?

Ninety minutes isn’t enough to do a long ride, but it’s enough for something as long as I didn’t go to far afield. So I rambled. I decided to meander from NE 53rd and Halsey around the back (east) side of Mount Tabor and then to work. It’s a well-worn route, though I did hit up a few pockets I haven’t been to in a bit. I got to see a rather large madrona tree, explore some unimproved roads, and got a nice view on the west side of Tabor. And I managed to avoid most of the rain as well!

And that was enough. Rather than drag my ass into work, I felt invigorated, happy even. This just tells me that any little adventure is good (especially when there are no mechanical issues.¬† ūüėČ ) And I need to do these little rambles more often. Also, it means I should get my arse going earlier on mornings off, so I can do stuff like this more often. Oh, to be a morning person…

Trying to be in the moment: A ramble to Kelley Point Park, 12 Feb 2018

Things have been a little stressful here at the Urban Adventure League HQ. At work, we got a new reservation system that I’m still trying to figure out. In my personal life, I have a lot of projects to tackle.

Like most fully employed “regular job” folks, I get two days off a week, typically on Sunday and Monday. While I’d love nothing more to just go ride or do something fun on my weekends, sometimes I just gotta take care of business. This is where I found myself this past Sunday and Monday. There were the prospects of going with¬† Emee to the coast or bike camping with my friends*, if I didn’t have to work on Saturday. (Oh, to have a regular weekend again!)

Sure, I could have made my own adventure, like go camp alone, but 1) lonely 2) dark and 3) cold.** Plus, I have some big travel plans coming up in March, where the first three weekends of the month consist of going out of town. So I’d feel guilty about goofing off for the weekend when I have so much I want/need to do and so much travel coming up. Now is time to get shit done.

On Sunday I attempted to put my nose to grindstone. I did get a few things around the house done, and worked on a bit of bike stuff. But not nearly as much as I wanted. Of course I was looking out at that blue sky taunting me all day…

Monday came and I decided I needed to do a little bit of riding, because I felt like I was getting nowhere fast. It was another sunny and mild (50F) day, but there was a good east wind, so riding east to the Gorge didn’t sound tantalizing. I’d like to get up to Powell Butte again, but the day was waning, so I went with the tried and true: Down to the Slough. I hadn’t been all the way out to Kelley Point Park in a while, why not now? And I haven’t done a true solo Coffee Outside adventure in a bit, so what better time to pull out the Esbit coffee machine?

The bike I’d be using for this ramble is the Robin Hood. I’ve been riding it a bunch in the two months since I got it built up. I really like riding it a lot, but I still need to tweak some things. I got around to fixing the rear flat from the week previous, and also reinstalled a bag support that I hadn’t been having much luck with. I wanted to give it one more shot. Normally, I use the Carradice Nelson Longflap bag with this bike, but with all the supplies I wanted to take (coffee kit, a bit of lunch, an extra layer for when it gets cold later, my sketchbook and other implements), it was a bit much. So I got the larger Camper Longflap and it absorbed everything. I hit the road.

That’s when things went a bit south.

Immediately when I sat on the saddle, the nose of the Brooks tilted upwards dramatically. This was the problem I had with the bag support before, since all the weight of the bag was attached to the back of saddle (vs. saddle and seatpost when not using one.) I made sure that the bracket attaching saddle to seatpost was as tight as possible, but it still didn’t stop the nose up. I rode a few miles down the road since the day was waning and I wanted to “keep the momentum”, damn the discomfort.

I got about five miles in and took a break at the picnic shelter by Smith Lake. I decided to take the bag support off, since that should mitigate most of the “upward nose” Brooks issue. And it did, but it of course caused another issue: the bigger, laden bag rested up against the rear brake cable. causing the brake to drag.*** (It hadn’t done this with the Nelson (or as much) since the bag is smaller.)****¬† The four miles to Kelley Point felt draggy, like I was facing a headwind (even though it was a tailwind.) I didn’t realize what was happening until I got to Kelley Point.

I was a bit frustrated. I know that Any Bike Ride is good, and I should enjoy the moment. But it’s hard to do this when frustrations like this cloud the experience.¬† I started thinking about All The Things I’m Putting Off Because I’m On A Bike Ride. Sure, I need to take care of my mental health and do things like this for myself “because”. But I couldn’t think about all of that at the time.

Thankfully, there was no issues with the coffee making. And things were beautiful at the point in that brilliantly clear February day way. There were quite a few people enjoying the park on a Monday afternoon, so much that it made me think Washington’s Birthday was today, not next week. The mountains were out and dazzling. And I got to see two bald eagles–two!–fly overhead. So it wasn’t all bad, but it was hard to think that while in the moment.

No matter which way I went, I was a ways away from home. So I decided to head back home via St. Johns in order to get some dinner and maybe a beer. The ride was still a bit draggy, but since I knew what was up, I didn’t mind as much. I just know I need to tweak things a bit more.

*Yes, in February!

**No, not as cold as most of the country, but we did see our first frost in over a month Sunday night. My equipment could handle it, but that long night alone would be daunting, unless I sprung for a cabin.

***It’s a steel rim, so no worries about “wearing out the rim” by this.

****Remind me why I like these saddlebags so much again? ūüėČ

Tempting fate with the flat gods

I’m one of those Boy Scout type of cyclists. I ride prepared. I got lights, I got a tool kit. I got a spare tube. I got first aid supplies. And I have a pump. In fact, I have a pump for every one of my bikes. Since my kit switches up with each bike, I can’t do that “have just one pump because I just use the same pannier on every bike I own” because I’d assume a pump to be in a bag when it’s not.* No, I have a pump strapped to each of my bikes, ready for use.

Or so I thought.

On Sunday February 4th, the Day of Sports Bowl, Emee and I decided to take an afternoon bike ride. While it was cloudy, it was dry with a high scraping 60F/16C, and the tantalizing promise of light traffic. I had the Robin Hood path racer, so naturally I encouraged Emee to bring her green Raleigh Sports, not just we’d be (sorta) matchy couple. No, also since we had just installed a lovely Brooks B18 saddle on it and she needed to test it.

“But I don’t have my pump with me!” Emee exclaimed. “That’s okay,” I replied, “I have mine.” This was technically true, my Zefal Lapize was clearly mounted to it.

We got a mile into the ride and paused at the top of a hill. I looked at the pump, and noticed that the hose was missing. This is an “old style” pump, and the removable hose nests inside of the tube. I had mounted the pump upside down, with hose end on bottom because I stupidly felt it “mounted” better that way. Well, now I learned that the hose doesn’t sit in as securely as suspected. We were just a mile in and could have turned around to fetch another pump, but I didn’t want to kill the momentum.** And besides, when was the last time I flatted on any of my bikes? Summer, probably. I’ll be okay.

And of course, within another mile or so, thump-thump-thump.

We were now on the I-205 Bike Path next to the Gateway Green Bike Park. You’d think with all the time and money invested into this new urban MTB park, a fix it station avec pump would be de rigueur. Nope. And that light traffic? It meant we didn’t see any other cyclists, so no pump to borrow. So we walked fifteen minutes to the MAX station and went back to Emee’s house.


So of course I needed another hose. This isn’t the first time I had this quandary. The original hose was in the handlebar bag that got nabbed on Election Day 2016, the same bag that had moosemoose on it. (Oh, moosemoose…)

I got around to replacing the hose last year. (Moosemoose, no replacement yet. ūüė¶ ) And it’s sort of a funny story: I bought the hose from an eBay seller, as I could get it direct from Zefal in France, but the eBay seller was in California, so y’know, faster. It took a month¬†for it to get here due to the seller’s ineptitude. (Seller charged me first-class parcel rate, but wanted to just sneak by with a Forever stamp. It got returned to him, and he put the make up postage on the back. And whose fault was all this according to the seller? The post office, of course.)

This time I ordered it from Zefal, and will wait patiently. But interestingly enough, it cost about the same to get two replacement hoses plus a couple spare parts than it would for just one hose from a US seller. And yes, this is factoring in shipping.

ADDENDUM 2/13/18: I ordered the items from Zefal on Sunday, and the package arrived on Friday. Five days! 

In the meantime, I’ll make sure I have a working pump on every ride!

*Some days, I wish I was that “same pannier on all my bikes” type of person.

**I know some of you who live in more rural areas would be aghast at me doing this. But I knew we’d be in the city the whole time, with transit accessible with a little walk. I wouldn’t be totally stranded if something happend.

Long work days make me long for long days.

It’s been a bit of a hell-week with work. I’ve had a training in NW from 9 AM to 1 PM on Monday February 5, Tuesday the 6th, and Wednesday the 7th. And on Monday and Tuesday, I had to take off from the training and go straight to the hostel to work until 10 PM.* Brutal. There’s really no time in the day for anything else. Thankfully, the work shifts were quiet.

I briefly thought about taking the bus for these two days, with the thinking I’d be so beat by 10 PM I wouldn’t want to ride my bike. But then I realized: my bike ride is going to be my only “other thing to do” for these two days.

And I’m glad I did bike. The two days were nice, mild (mid 50’s F) and dry. Spring was starting to show itself around these parts. But the big thing about riding was it gave me balance. I think I’d be even more cranky if I took the bus for these couple days.

And there’s just those little things you get from riding. For instance, on the way in on Monday a fellow rider complimented my sweater! On the ride home on Monday night I followed for maybe a quarter-mile what appeared to be a small coyote (or large fox?) roaming through the Irvington neighborhood. Or on Tuesday afternoon, in transit between NW and SE, I opted to take the scenic route of the Eastbank Esplanade along the Willamette River. Who cares that I had to wait for ten minutes as a freight train passed?

Sometimes I forget how much balance bicycling gives to my life. It gives me exercise, it gives me release. When I don’t get these things, I feel not as good. I’m looking to increase my feeling better moments. And longer amounts of daylight will make me feel better, especially since there will be more time in the day for bike riding…

*Originally I was scheduled to work Monday and Wednesday, but I figured it would be best to get the hell days out of the way. Then I could breathe easier Wednesday afternoon, especially since I had Thursday off.

A Springwater Ramble, 31 Jan 2018

I had a nice bike ride on Sunday, January 28th. I noted in that post that my next two days off were Tuesday and Wednesday, and the weather looked like it’d be okay enough for another ride. Well, as those days approached, it looked like Wednesday would be the better day, and a ride would work out better, as I could ride eastward and end up at Emee’s house. So I decided Tuesday would be my “get stuff done” around the house day.

Of course, I woke up to sun on Tuesday morning. Despite a prediction of rain, it was clouds and sun with a high of 53F. Nice out. I did manage to get a short ride in after house chores and before the sun went down. In fact, I caught a very lovely sorta-sunset from my favorite spot to do, The Dog Bowl.

Wednesday? It was grey and the high only got up to 48F. So much for relying on the weather report for which day would be the better one for a ride! But it remained dry, so no complaint there.

I decided to head south first, just like on Sunday, but then take the Springwater Corridor east, maybe as far as Powell Butte. While the Springwater is probably the most obvious easy “long ride” destination in town as it’s our longest MUP/rail trail, I don’t go there as much as I used to, especially during the winter. It’s about 10 miles from my house. On my off days in winter, I’m more inclined to hit up the lands of the Slough as they are close at hand. But I wanted some variety and I wanted a long ride.

I wandered southbound through the neighborhoods east of the Willamette to get to Sellwood where I’d pick up the Springwater. I made a point of hitting up Westmoreland Park, since Crystal Springs Creek flows through it. There are very few free-flowing and “daylighted” brooks on the east side of the city, so its mere existence is a big deal to me. The course of the creek through the park used to be a very manicured thing in a mid-20th Century kind of way (read: channelized and walled), but a few years ago the parks department did a beautiful full restoration, returning its meander and making wetlands around its banks. This had the benefit of making water colder and more inviting for the fish, and less inviting for Canada Geese since they loved all the lawn-like areas around the creek. (Ducks do like the creek, however.)

The creek runs about another mile south to its confluence with Johnson Creek. Here it meanders through Sellwood, the only place on the eastside where a brook runs through the city grid. (The rest of its course is pretty much parkland.) Johnson Creek Park is a nice hidden gem between the two streams. I love going down here when I can. It reminds me of my childhood when I’d explore the brooks that were close to my home.

I rode east on the Springwater. It was a bit too late in the day to tackle Powell Butte (unless if I wanted to do it in the dark), so I rode as far as I could, stopping by the WPA era “waterfall” on Johnson Creek and Cartlandia for a bit of late lunch. (Banh Mi!) I also hit up the Foster Floodplain and detoured south of the path for a mile, where I crossed back over Johnson Creek via the closed bridge on SE 122th. (Closed to cars, that is!) I headed north on 122nd then west on the Springwater until 111th, then meandered northward through Lents to hook up with the I-205 path. I met up with Emee at East Glisan Pizza in Montavilla where we had a lovely pizza.

The days are getting longer and nicer. I know I’ll be heading further east on the Springwater soon, hitting up the awesomeness known as Powell Butte. And hey, a lot of the campgrounds will be opening in March…

A spring-like Sunday cruise, 28 Jan 2018

I’ve said this on ye olde blog before, but spring is my favorite season. And it’s great being a spring lover in the wet side Northwest, as spring arrives sometime in February and goes to about May, when we start getting our first tastes of summer (though summer doesn’t really lock in until July.) Once mid-February hits, it becomes harder for us to get “real” winter (snow/ice) weather, though there is always a chance for frost. And flowers and buds make their first appearance. The deciduous trees usually fill out in early April (vs mid-May in Connecticut.)

It’s been a mild January here. Our only freezing temps happened during the first three days of the month. We haven’t hit 60F/16C, though we’ve gotten up to the upper 50’s a few times. Our temperate climate is being all temperate this winter, and I’m okay with that.

But we’ve still seen our share of wet this January. We’re at about 5 inches of rain, which is spot on the “average” for January. We’ve had some dry days and spells, but they don’t always align with my days off (or my health!) For example, I had four days off last week. Most of them were wet, the one that wasn’t I had other things going on.¬† So no fun bike rides. Sure, I can ride in the evening if it’s dry, but sometimes it’s nice to see things, y’know?

But Sunday January 28th was promising to be a dry and mild day. And I wanted to take advantage of it and ride a bike. The big problem was I had to work. Normally I have Sundays off, but I had to work this one because The Boss was out of town. And thankfully I had the PM shift which starts at 3 PM, so I could take advantage of the morning and afternoon. Of course, I didn’t get out of the house as early as I wanted, mostly because it’s hard to wake up early after working the night before until 10 PM. And of course, once I get outside I wish I did get out earlier! It was so beautiful. So it goes.

I decided to take the Robin Hood, since it’s the newest bike and I’m still getting used to it. I enjoy riding it, but it needs a few more tweaks. And there were a few tweaks I needed to do before and during the ride, like reseating the rear wheel* and adjusting the kickstand I recently installed.

Since I didn’t have much time I decided to do something easy. I headed south from my house to the Willamette, passing the Rodney Goats on the way. The Eastbank Esplanade was surprisingly free of people on such a beautiful January Sunday. I wondered if maybe I forgot about the Superbowl going on, but realized it’s next Sunday instead. Oh well, more for me to enjoy!

I kept on going south, eventually riding on the Springwater’s Willamette section. The river on my side, trees overhead, birds singing. I felt pretty good. I arrived at the Sellwood Bridge and decided to cross it, meaning I’d be heading north along the west side of the river. A quick pause for coffee and a snack at the Five Points Coffee on SW Dakota, one of the shops owned by my former roommate. It was getting late, so I hustled a bit more, which is hard since the Willamette path here meanders around various condiminium complexes, and the pedestrians picked up. So I didn’t linger over the not-crowded Tillikum Crossing Bridge to get back to the east side.

I got to work right at 3 PM. The ride was fifteen miles, not bad. And it put me in a good mental space. But now I want more. The next few days don’t look good, but it looks like Wednesday may be dry though not as mild as Sunday. (Sunday’s high was 57F/14C, Wednesday promises 47F/8C.) And I have Wednesday off. Let’s hope the stars align. And let’s hope more spring weather is not far away!

*The biggest thing I hate about three speeds is removing and installing the rear wheel. I needed to take it off to change the rear fender light (I just got a Spanninga Vena), and I never seem to get it positioned right and/or fully tightened n the first take.