Sick, again.

After such a bustling March, it was inevitable: I came down with a good, good cold. It’s been a week, and this virus is still lingering. So I’ve had to slow things down. Today I had plans of camping, but with my health still not 100%, it’s not going to happen. Plus, the weather is going to be crap.

I did still lead Portland’s Tweed Ride on Sunday April 8th. Despite a dire forecast, the weather gods smiled and we had a dry and fairly mild day. About 40 folks showed up (it would have been bigger if the forecast hadn’t been so bad) and I led them from Alberta Park in NE to Laurelhurst Park in SE.

If there’s one good thing about a week of sick, it’s the opportunity to catch up. March featured a trip every weekend, so it was hard to get anything done. Now I’ve had down time to finish things up. I finally got all the details sorted out with Three Speed Adventure April and am working on things like patches and buttons. I’m also sorting out travel plans for the Lake Pepin Three Speed Tour in May.

The weather has alternated from dreadful to dreamy. Monday April 9 was the latter, our first 70F day here. I managed to get a Sunset Burrito Club. It was also my first time displaying bare feet outside this year. Summer is coming…



If you have been following this blog long enough, you know that not only do I go off and do my own solo bike adventures, but I lead bicycle rides around the Portland area. Yep, I’ve been doing this for thirteen years now!  And I’ve cataloged a lot of the streets and areas of the city in my almost sixteen years here. I can often design a bike route by simply opening up Ride With GPS and plotting the route. And I’d be fairly confident with what I had created.

But there still is great advantage to the “pre-ride”, a test of the route by bike. Sometimes things have changed since the last time you were out there. Or, you get a burst of inspiration and decide to reroute a stretch because you found a better way, or there’s something more scenic or interesting. In any case, it’s always good to test the ride, no matter how familiar you think you are with it!

Coming up soon I will have a slew of different rides on the calendar. Earlier this week, the weather finally got pretty nice, low 50’s and sunny, though the east wind was pretty fierce. I decided to get out there and do some riding in the service of future rides.

First up was Monday and the Tweed Ride, which will happen Sunday April 9. Despite me feeling like I was “done” with this ride a couple years ago, I’m still helping out because it’s fun! This is the first year that I’m truly creating the route. (Last year I picked it up after the initial route creator baled.) This year we’ll be starting from Westmoreland Park in SE, the first time the ride would hit up this neck of the woods. Much of the route I had plotted worked okay, but I did make some changes due to on-the-ground reality and also because I got excited about some other options.

Tuesday started sunny again. Originally I had planned to go on a hike in the West Hills. But I wasn’t moving that fast in the morning, mostly because I had a bit too much fun at a dinner party the night previous. But the weather is too nice to stay inside, what should I do? Then it came to me: pre-ride the upcoming Three Speed Ride (Sunday April 2)! This ride would be hitting up some areas on the eastside that I’m not super familiar with. And it was a good idea to do a pre-ride, as I found some interesting nooks and crannies out there while tweaking and finessing what I already had.

These rides, along with other ones in the pipeline, should be fun, so I hope you can come if you are in the Portland metro area! And if you ever decide to lead rides of your own, remember the pre-ride!

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 report: 12 April 2015

Another year, another Tweed Ride! After three years of being an organizer, this was now a ride in someone else’s hands, this time ably handled by Carla Bartow. I wasn’t able to make it to the start due to work, but met the ride halfway through. The turnout was decent, maybe 100. It didn’t hurt that the weather was good, no rain and pushing 60F/16C. Almost too nice, as a bit cooler and/or drizzly is so Tweed Ride weather! 😉  There was a lovely picnic stop at the Skidmore Bluffs, and the ride terminated at Old Portland Hardware for music and libations. Fun!

I know summer’s coming, because I seem to be so damn busy.

What is up, amigos? We are fast approaching the middle of April (which contains Tax Day to those of us in the States.) And my life has been a whirl of bicycle ride logistics. A lot of planning for bicycle rides and bicycle tours coming up. It feels that I haven’t done much else, besides working. So, here’s a brief update:

  • The Tweed Ride happened last Sunday (April 7th.) I was one of the organizers. The rain mostly stayed away, and we led a group of about 70 peeps from Mount Tabor park to Wilshire Park and then to Velo Cult.
  • The Willamette Week put out their annual bike issue on Wednesday, and reporter Rebecca Jacobson talked to me about local camping destinations. Despite talking for about an hour, I get two mentions in the article. You can check it out over here.
  • And today (Saturday April 13) I’ll be leading a group of seventeen cyclists to an overnight camp out at Sunset campground in Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Hope it doesn’t pour on us.

Hope all is well with you all.

The Urban Adventure League (and Society of Three Speeds) gets some internet attention!

Hello there, regular readers! And hello there, estimated two hundred or so people who checked into the blog over the past day or so, due to the link the Path Less Pedaled folks provided to my entry about Rough Stuff. Glad you are here! Feel free to peruse ’round these parts, hopefully you’ll find something of interest!

And here is an item of interest:

In my daily scouring of Portland’s bike section on Craigslist, I noticed this ad that is using the upcoming Three Speed Ride (plus the Tweed Ride) as a selling point!
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Very pretty vintage Dayton “Superb” three speed cruiser made in England probably in the late 50’s or early 60’s. 53 cm step through frame. Paint has some scratches. The dyno hub and lights are likely original. They do not work right now, I have not ventured to replace the bulbs so their status is still unknown. Either way, they look cool so I have left them as is. The cottered cranks have new pins and the bottom bracket has been overhauled (big plus!). The Sturmey-Archer hub gets all three speeds and the shifter cable is new. Rides smooth! 3 speed ride is March 3rd and the Tweed ride is early April. BE READY!!! 100$

Well, it does look like a lovely specimen, especially since it appears to have an original dynamo headlamp PLUS Dynohub! Wonder if it actually works.

Later February Updates

The irony of this image is the playground no longer exists, usurped by the housing going up on the left.

Hello to all my followers, all four of you! You may have noticed a downturn of blog posts over the course of, oh, the past two weeks or so. There are a number of reasons that can be boiled down to three core ones: busy with other life things (like working up to five days a week at the hostel), a dearth of doing fun bike things, and not much inspiration to write. I do have my ever-growing running list of stuff that I want to write for this blog, but nothing’s grabbing me right now. Hopefully that will change soon.

While it’s been a while since I did a fun bike ride, lately I have been doing a heck of a lot of planning for fun bike rides. Besides hostel work, illustration work, and Doctor Who viewings, this seems to be all that I’ve been up to as of late. So what bike fun do I have in store?

  • Right now I’m mostly working on the next Three Speed Ride, which is less than two weeks away (Sunday, March 3rd) and the associated Society of Three Speeds. Anyone who shows up on the ride will get some fun stuff as being “founding members” of SOTS. So check out the attendant links for more info.
  • In the same vein, I’m once again helping with Portland’s Tweed Ride, slated for Sunday, April 7th. This one promises to be quite fun. Not only are we doing the ride, we are having a Tweed Clothing Exchange on Tuesday March 5th at Velo Cult to help everyone get ready for this dashing event.
  • And another bike fun organization that I happen to be involved with is Cycle Wild. We finally hammered out the majority of dates for bike camping in 2013. You should come along on a ride if you can. The next one is on April 13-14 to Sunset campground in Gifford Pinchot National Forest (Washington State). I should be leading that one up.
  • I’m also trying to sort out the other bike rides I’ll be doing from now up until Portland’s big-up bike fun festival, Pedalpalooza, in June. In the interest of keeping things fresh, I’m planning some new and different rides this year. Of course I will post info here when it becomes available. And in related Pedalpalooza news, I’ll once again be on the committee to pick out this year’s artwork. (To get on the committee, you have to have done the art at least once. And once you’re on, it’s a lifetime thing like the Supreme Court.) Info about submitting art for 2013 will be coming out shortly.
In bike news, I’ve been riding the heck out of the Raleigh Crested Butte. On Thursday I’ll be doing a bunch of stuff to it with my friend Ed Groth. I’ll fill you in with the details when they are done.
And I’m also starting to do some stuff to the Rudge Sports. I haven’t ridden the bike in eons* and I want to do some more stuff to it to get it ready for both the Three Speed Ride and then the Tweed Ride. I just had the bottom bracket overhauled along with replacing the left side crank, both of which were long overdue. There will be more tweaking in the next few weeks, which I’ve started with playing with handlebars and stem. When riding to the bike shop the other day, the first two blocks was “What the heck is this weird bike I’m riding?” followed by “I’ve forgotten how fun it is to ride this bike.” After the updates I should be riding this bike a lot more.
But of course the big thing is I need to ride my bike more. Hopefully my schedule will open up on one of my days off next week (and the weather will hold out) to allow me to go for one. Spring has been tantalizing us, with a high of 61F/16C on Friday. I can’t wait.
*Also to note, I don’t think I’ve ridden my Long Haul Trucker since November, which is the longest stretch of not riding it since I got it!

Adventures in DIY: Pedal Overhaul

Pedal body with axle,  washer, locking nut, dustcap, and cone. Not pictured: ball bearings.

A few people think I’m a great bicycle mechanic. This notion is quite far from the truth. Oh sure, I can do some basic stuff. Fix a flat? Sure. Adjust brakes? Grudgingly. Mount stuff? Okay. Since I have toured extensively, I can do the basics. But I don’t like doing certain things, so I’ll just bring my bike by a shop. (It doesn’t hurt that there are 83,267 bike shops in Portland, the closest one from my house two blocks away.) Anything major? Drop it off at ye old bike shop.

Of course I’d like to be able to do more work on my own bicycle. I should learn how to do more things. I’ve never been mechanically inclined, so some bike repair intimidates me. This is no excuse.

Tomorrow is Portland’s annual Tweed Ride. The Rudge Sports in all of its path-racer glory would be the most obvious mount for such a themed ride. Hopefully I’ll be able to ride it, though the weather has been dreadfully rainy this week, and more of the same is expected tomorrow. The Rudge is a “sunny day” bike in its current configuration, as the combination of steel rims and no fenders does not lend itself to wet rides. If it is raining, I’ll take the Raleigh. But if it isn’t, I want the Rudge to be ready. And one thing it needs is pedals. I originally ran the “rat trap” pedals that were on the Raleigh, but they sucked, so I installed my ’80’s Shimano Deore pedals with Power Grips. They work, but they’re not aesthetically appropriate for the bike.

So I got a pair of SR quill pedals from my friend Ed. While they are 70’s style road pedals, not rat-traps, they are more appropriate for the Rudge. There was one problem, though: one of the pedals was a bit grindy, but not overly so. It would probably be fine, but I decided this would be a good opportunity to teach myself how to overhaul a pedal.

Yes, pedal overhaul, a lost art. Many modern pedals are either not designed to be serviceable, or they use cartridge bearings. But these pedals came from a not-so-distant past where it was expected that you should be able to service any part of a bike. So with my copy of Sloane’s Complete Book of Bicycling (25th Anniversary Edition), I went at it.

The Sloane book.

Most pedals I’ve seen have a dust cap that needs to be pried off, but these conveniently had a screw-on cap, removable with a 6mm Allen wrench! Easy! I gave the inside a blast of WD40 to clean it out. Then I removed all the internals: the lock nut, washer, cone, axle, and all of those ball bearings. (Despite being extra careful and doing all the removal over a bowl, I still lost a few bearings. So I got some more from the bike shop.) The only issue I found was there was some stripping of the threading at the “top” of the axle, where the nut/washer/cone screws on. I asked the bike shop if they thought it was an issue, and they said as long as the nuts can tighten properly, then it should be okay.

After cleaning the parts and a liberal application of grease, I put everything back in, tightened nut/washer/cone, and put the dust cap back on. And now: no grindy feeling!

I did the same thing to the other pedal. Even though it had no grinding, the inside was dry as a bone, so it got a greasing.

Then I attached some nice steel clips with leather straps to the pedals. Voila! Classy pedals for a classy bike. And most of it free: the only thing I bought new were a set of Zefal leather straps which set me back $8.50. And now I have learned a dying art.

Illustrations on fitting a toe strap. From Bicycle by John Wilcockson (1980).