Bay Area trip: Sacramento dispatch

Amtrak’s Coast Starlight left just a little after 2:30 PM PDT yesterday, Sunday March 19. This was the first time in three years​that I used this train. So I got to use the new roll on bike service. Bike hooks! No more boxing of bikes!

This was also the first time using the new Business Class on the Coast Starlight. What does that mean? For about $40 more, I had a pretty empty coach car. Compare this to the usual packed to the gills coach cars on this train! I also got a $6 voucher which I used for the wine tasting in the Pacific Parlour car. Yes, the swanky old Santa Fe lounge car (built in the mid 1950’s) generally reserved for the Sleeping Car passengers! Style and class. I also ate dinner in the Dining Car. While this is an added fee for Business Class, (it’s included for the Sleeping Car passengers), I just felt like being swanky. And I got to have an interesting conversation with an “on vacation” Amtrak Conductor and her very railfan husband.

Night fell as we crossed Willamette Pass and I fell asleep after the train crossed into California. I awoke around 5:30 AM in Sacramento. I retrieved my bike from the baggage car and noticed a bulge from the tire sidewall. Damn. The bike must have done a bit of rubbing on the hook. Now I have to figure this out before I go further.

But no bike shop is open at 6 AM. So I killed time with breakfast and coffee, and also contacted Compass to get a replacement RTP tire sent to me in SF. I found a bike shop open at 10, but they seemed… Disinterested in helping me out. So I crossed the river into West Sacramento and found Edible Pedal, who was enthusiastic about helping me out! (It’s always a good sign when one is greeted with “Cool bike!”) He booted the tire with Gorilla Tape, and also adjusted my front brake too!

So the bike is back in shape, so time to ride…

Announcing: Three Speed Adventure April challenge!

Society Of Three Speeds

Hello friends. You know I love bike challenges. First, it was my THREE SPEED OCTOBER challenge. Now, just six months later, I am introducing THREE SPEED ADVENTURE APRIL!

What exactly is this challenge, and how is it different than the October challenge? Well, this challenge is about doing things with/on a three speed bicycle that some people would unfairly consider “beyond its abilities”. These bikes are more able than even some seasoned three-speeders think!

The overall challenge consists of five different sub-challenges:

  1. Ride your three speed at least fifteen miles (25 km) in one ride.
  2. A climb of 5% or more grade, with a cumulative elevation gain of at least 150 feet (45 m).
  3. A bit of unpaved/dirt action, of at least a cumulative one half mile (1 km).
  4. Coffee outside via three speed.
  5. A bike overnight or bike camping trip by three speed.

Okay, there’s a lot to unpack here…

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20% off sale extended until March 15, and a note about sales.

wp-1488861292080.jpgHello friends! I have decided to continue my 20% off sale a little while longer. From now until March 15, you can get 20% off ANYTHING in my store. This includes pre-orders and the Postcard Club! Simply use the discount code IDESOFMARCH in the checkout. (20% off is not valid for shipping rates.)

And this will probably be the last time I will offer a percentage off sale, since after the 15th Storenvy (my web store provider) will require me to pay a monthly fee to create discount codes. I don’t do enough business to justify that, at least not at this time. I will most likely offer sales on individual items, just not an across the board sale.

And now is a good time to make a purchase, as in the next couple months I’ll be revisiting the prices on my comics and zines. Most likely a few of them will go up. The reality is that inflation has happened in the five to ten years since I initially priced some of them. I don’t intend to get rich selling zines, but don’t want to go broke, either. And I’d like to do a bit more than just cover my costs.

And honestly, I’ve always undersold my stuff. Part of this comes from my “punk rock zine” background. When I started making mini-comics twenty (yeesh) years ago, one dollar was as much as you could charge something without getting grief from someone, and you still could get grief.* (They’d only allow you to charge $2 if it was nicely printed or 100 pages long.) Now? I see people sell zines that are the same size as mine for at least double what I charge, if not more. I want to keep my prices fair, but also don’t want to undersell my work.

In any case, if you feel like supporting my work, now is a good a time as ever to do so! And thank you for your support.

And you can find all my stuff at my store.

*A review of my first-ever comic, TEN FOOT RULE #1, complained about my dollar price tag, which the critic felt was “too much” for what it was, though they overall liked it.

First Three Speed Ride of 2017: Sunday April 2!

Society Of Three Speeds

Me and the Raleigh Superbe at Westmoreland Park. Me and the Raleigh Superbe at Westmoreland Park.

Yes, my friends, it is a new year. Time to get some Three Speed Rides out there! I still plan on doing one in June as part of Pedalpalooza, and another one later in the year. And there is the possibility of another campout–or two. And a pub crawl! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, let’s talk about the first one!

  • This ride will happen on Sunday April 2. Meet up at 10:30 am, leave at 11.
  • We will be meeting at Khunamokwst Park at the corner of NE 52nd Ave and Alberta St in the Cully neighborhood. This park is brand-spanking-new, so you ain’t going to find it on an old map. Khunamokwst has a small picnic shelter (yay!), water, and a bathroom that may/may not be open.
  • If you drive, there is limited street parking. And the ride itself…

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Yet again, time for more bike work.

31133503106_84798979e3_oI’ve had the Raleigh Crested Butte for just over four years. When I bought it in October of 2012, it was definitely a “garage queen”, and showed little signs of wear and use. But that was four years ago. The Crested Butte has become my “daily driver” utility bike, the one I go to most for commuting and such. And while I have never toured on it, I’ve definitely put miles on it.

And while the Crested Butte was a nicely made, top of the line mountain bike in 1984, even the best of Shimano Deore componentry wears out if it sees constant and consistent use. The Suntour Perfect freewheel and rear axle went in the summer of 2015, replaced by another used Perfect freewheel. The “first gen” Deore shifters wore out a few months ago, replaced with “second gen” Deore shifters.

But now the bike is at a crossroads. The bike has felt a bit more clunky than it should* the past few months. Earlier last week the chain was having some weird jamming issues. The prognosis is the Perfect freewheel is no longer so perfect, so I need a new freewheel. That’s no big deal in itself, but the rear derailleur is also wearing out. And when the chain is in the small front chainring, it’s a couple millimetres from the sidewall of the rear tire. In fact, if I go over 52 mm in width on that tire, I run the risk of rub regardless. It would be nice to reduce that risk by changing the triple into a double and keeping the  two bigger chainrings as far out as they already are.** That could also mean that I can finally put a double-legged kickstand on there, which would make my life a bit easier.

And I have also become annoyed with the brakes. Those high profile first gen Deore cantis are great brakes…when they work. But they quickly come out of adjustment, and are fiddly to readjust. So maybe it’s time for new brakes? I’ve had V-brakes before, and while they don’t look as nearly as nice as old cantis, they definitely do the job with little fuss.

So you can see that’s all adding up into a few hundred dollar job, at least. This is the point you’d maybe remind me that I tried to sell this same bike just a year ago. Yes, I see the irony. When the bill started to add up, I did have a “What the f- am I doing?” moment, and the thought about selling again briefly lit up. But after all I’ve done with and to this bike in the four years of owning it, I’d hardly get back anything for selling it. Also, I just like this bike a tad too much to do that, and want to keep it around for a year or two more, at the least.*** It’s nice to have a bike like this, a nice enough bike as it is, but the do-everything workhorse that means you can save the nice bikes for fun times. And let’s face it: I had a good run on this bike, with retaining most of the original parts it came with. Until this year, the only things I had replaced (not counting consumables like tires, chains, cables, brake pads) had been the saddle, seatpost, handlebar, and stem. It’s time for some new parts, parts that will last for a few more years through constant use and abuse.

But still, money is money, and it’s not like I don’t have other things to spend money on. (Or maybe try to save money?) And it’s not like I don’t have other bike issues to worry about. Take the Bantam.

29381324184_8e12a60149_oAstute readers (or followers of my Instagram) may have noticed I haven’t ridden the Bantam in a bit. That’s generally because I like to keep it for the fun times, but the front wheel is sort of toast. Right before the aborted Chehalem Ridge Ramble in early November, I brought the bike to the shop to get the front brake adjusted. In attempting to do that, the mechanic found out that the cones on the Shimano Alfine dynohub are pretty much shot. He hasn’t been able to find replacement cones, either. I haven’t attempted to search on my own. But I’m thinking about just ditching the wheel. Even if I do find the cones, the rim has a defect where the sleeve where they weld it together is a bit loose, so you hear a thunk-thunk-thunk when the wheel moves at low speed. It’s more annoying than dangerous, but you see what I’m getting at. Maybe it’s time to just get a new wheel built? A decent rim around a Shutter Precision dynohub, most likely. People like them, and they look nice.

And it’s not just front wheel issues. I’ve also realized that I’ve run into the limitations of the 1X8 gearing system. The low is just not low enough for me, and while I didn’t want to admit it at the time, not having a good low gear scared me away from some touring opportunities this year. I do have that Alfine 11 hub, which I can get built up into a wheel, but I’m still worried that there may be issues with the hub itself. And it’s not just the cost of a wheel: shifters for the Alfine 11 run about $125-175! That’s a lot of change. I think I’ll try out a 1X10 system because I can get one of those ridiculous 42 tooth big cogs. This will be cheaper than an Alfine build (even with getting a new derailleur) and I’d like to get a little more life out of the rear wheel if I can. But even saving a bit on the rear wheel, we’re talking a few hundred dollars of work there as well.

the-schwinn-heavy-duti_30705746636_oAnd it would be nice to get a new fork on the Heavy Duti so I can actually have a front brake. I felt like I was on the verge of getting one, but these other two projects come up, and those bikes take priority. And there’s a couple other bike projects in there as well.  (Thankfully the Raleigh Superbe doesn’t have any issues and I have no plans to change anything.) Remember how I said I’d like to have money for other things? With these projects, that ain’t going to happen soon!

These are times where I wish I was one of those bike minimalists, only having one bike, the type of person who frets about the idea of having two bikes. Instead, I’m the person who frets about four bikes–or more. What can I do?

*Yes, it’s heavy, so it will never be a nimble ride.

**I have thought about putting an internally geared hub wheel on there, something with at least 8 speeds. But those aren’t cheap, and since this bike has vertical drop outs, it would mean I need to use a chain tensioner. Not a deal breaker in itself, but does make things more complicated.

***Right now at four years the Crested Butte is my longest owned bike. I’d like to see it in my hands for five years, since that’s how long I had the Raleigh Wayfarer and the Surly Long Haul Trucker, my two “long term” bikes. Oh yeah, my first Portland bike, the Giant Rincon, was around for five years as well, but I don’t think about it as much.

15% off sale at the store!

wp-1481179570821.jpgYes, friends, it’s time for a little sale over at the store! From now until Thursday December 15, get 15% off my already stupidly low prices! Just use the code 15OFF15 Discount not applied to shipping costs.

So you can get 15% off everything! That includes Postcard Club, the New Old Stock 2.125 pre-order, and a few new “daylighted” items like the Peninsula Park postcard and the Eastside Theater History Bike Tour guide!

Go check out my store to see it all.

Thank you for your support!

Three Speed October: Did you participate? It’s time to check in.

Society Of Three Speeds

bearbearprizepackageHello friends! Yeah, this is long overdue, as the Challenge itself ended two weeks ago. What can I say, it’s been an interesting couple weeks. Now is time for me to get back on top of all this.

Did you participate in the Three Speed October challenge? Please get in touch. Summarize your rides thusly:

Week One

  1. Tuesday: 7 mile trek down to the river on the Superbe.
  2. Wednesday: 4 mile grocery shop run on the Twenty.
  3. Friday: 10 mile round-trip commute with the DL-1.

etc, etc.

And in order for you to get the prize package, you will need to let me know your postal address! Even if you think I already have it, please let me know again. (Because maybe you moved without telling me? 😉  )

Submit those reports to urbanadventureleague@gmail.com If you posted these rides elsewhere, make sure you include some links to where they be…

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Chehalem Range Ramble, Saturday 5 November

Hey folks! Just a friendly reminder that my sort of annual Chehalem Range Ramble will be happening next Saturday, November 5! (Sort of annual, since I did it in 2014 but cancelled it last year due to a nasty weather forecast.) This ride is a mixed surface ride of about 50 miles, going up and over and around the Chehalem Mountains, the small mountain range in the Willamette Valley dividing the Tualatin Valley from the Yamhill Valley. The range is short but steep and topping out at elevations from about 1200 feet to its highest point, Bald Peak, at just over 1,600 feet. Many of the roads leading up and over the ridge are gravel!

You can see photos and the full report of the 2014 ride here. And here’s the route from the 2014 adventure.

Here are the pertinent details for this year’s ride:

  • First off, I am indeed totally aware that there is another day long ride happening in the same area on the same day. If you know about it, there’s a chance that you’ve already done that ride at least once, and it looks like the same route that it’s been for awhile. My ride will feature roads that you (and I) have not been on, and some gravel. If it makes you feel any better, I can print up some “brevet” cards and refer to all stops as “control points.” 😉
  • We’ll be meeting at 8 am at Diversity Cafe, 230 E Main St in Hillsboro. This is about two blocks east of the Hatfield TC MAX station on the Blue Line (the end of the line.) Yep, we’ll have a nice sit down breakfast before a big ride! If’n you aren’t into a full breakfast, just meet us at the cafe by 9 am. (There is another coffee option nearer the station if you just want something quick, but I ain’t naming names.) You can check out their very breakfasty menu via the web, but BE WARNED, IT’S ONE OF THOSE WEBSITES THAT STARTS PLAYING MUSIC, ETC WHEN YOU OPEN IT!
  • The ride is about 50 miles round-trip, and you can check that out here. We can shave off about 10 miles by cutting out the gravel loop around Gaston. I’d prefer to keep that loop, but if we’re too beat or the weather starts to suck, it’s an option. The biggest difference between this ride and the one in 2014 is there will only be one crossing of the Chehalem Range, not two. Also, we’ll be hitting up Forest Grove and straight-shotting along Baseline back to Hillsboro. Yeah, it’s not ideal, but it allows a dinner stop in FG (see below) and really, most of the riding right outside of Forest Grove on the south side is sub-par, so it’s six of one, half-dozen the other…
  • As for breaks and food, Bald Peak is at about mile 19. I plan on taking a good break here and making coffee. While there’s an outhouse, there is no water here, so make sure you have enough for the ride, esp. if you want to make coffee here. At about mile 27 is Gaston, which has a store and probably a pub/restaurant. We’ll pass through Forest Grove on the way back, so we can stop by the Grand Lodge for dinner and drinks.
  • While this ride does not stray that far from the fringe of the metro area, it has a surprising lack of services. After leaving Hillsboro, the next food/water will be Gaston at mile 27 and then there may be a country store or so before Forest Grove. So be prepared!
  • I’d say about 25% of this ride is gravel. I think the ascent to Bald Peak is a good deal of gravel, and the Gaston Loop is I think mostly gravel. Note I said “I think” as the maps don’t tell me. But most of the climbs over the Chehalem Range are gravel, so it’s a good guess. I’d say you should be good if you have tires north of 32 mm in width. Nothing super-technical, so you don’t need to ride your full-sus MTB unless you want to!

Okay! Hope to see you there! Please give me a heads up at urbanadventureleague@gmail.com if you think you’ll be coming.2014-11-22 11.49.52