Looking ahead to 2019

It’s a new year. I know it’s just a date, but it is an appropriate time to look ahead for what a new year will bring. Some people make resolutions. I prefer to make goals. I know that this is an ideal, and I know that I won’t accomplish all the things I hope. But I gotta try!

Biking: I said last time I needed to bike more, but this time it’s a bit more urgent. Since I don’t have a job to ride to, my weekly bike commuting miles has been reduced to zero. And bicycling is my only true regular exercise. I’ve been feeling it around the waist, and when I put my leg over a top tube. I need to make myself get out there and ride more, and more often. Short rides, long rides, you name it!

Bike Camping and Touring: Yep, 2018 was lighter than hoped in this department. I’m going to make a concerted effort to do more, especially since camping and touring not only can be fun, but keeps me balanced. Luckily since I don’t have a “regular” job right now, my time is a lot more open than in the past. Gone are the days of figuring out tours months in advance and hoping I can get the time off. No, I just need to make sure that my life business is in order before I go on the road. And if it is, I can even do a spontaneous trip!

I don’t have any plans of doing a super-long tour (like, a month or three) in 2019. While it may look like a perfect time on paper, there’s still so much I need to get rolling with my “business” that I can’t just f–off for a whole summer. Not only that, I’m not feeling the desire to do a month or longer tour right now. I know someday I will again, but 2019 won’t be the year for it.

Instead, I’ll aim to do a bunch of small stuff like overnighters and three day trips, and throw in a smattering of weeklong (and possibly something pushing two weeks) outings. It’ll be long enough to get away from things, but short enough that I can still be engaged with my real life. And that’s what I need right now.

Where to go? I’ll stay in the Pacific Northwest, mostly. I don’t want to go that far since I’m pretty broke right now and can’t afford to spend a lot on the to/from. Thankfully bike touring in itself can be inexpensive, and also that there’s lots of destinations close at hand. Some thoughts of where include:

  • Up to Vancouver, BC! It’s been since 2011 (Big Tour) since I rode all the way up, and since 2012 since I rode north from Portland
  • Out into the Columbia Gorge. I didn’t ride out here at all in 2018 since much of it was closed due to the Eagle Creek Fire. It’s been too long. The Gorge is good for a quick overnight, or a longer jaunt.
  • Central Oregon. I’ve been out there twice in 2018, sans bicycle. It reminded me of how much I want to explore by bike. I’m thinking a week long outing, maybe on the Outback route, maybe a mix of other things.
  • Oregon Coast. Last year was the first time in twelve years that I did something extensive out there, and I’d like to get back again. I’m thinking going further south from where I turned inland at Reedsport. Some of the best coast is in the south. I could incorporate some Southern Oregon riding here too.
  • Gifford Pinchot/Mt Hood National Forests. This compromises the forested Cascades east of Portland. Close at hand, with lots of good destinations.
  • San Juan Islands. Because!

I don’t know if I can do all the above, but I’m gonna try.

Backpacking: I didn’t get in a trip in 2018, and am bummed about it. I’d like to get in something, at least an overnight. I’m not looking to do a big thru-hike, but a three day, two night trip would be nice, too. It would be cool to do more than one trip, but at least one trip, please!

Structure and schedule: One of the hardest things about being self-employed is not having a schedule to adhere to. This can be problematic, since a lack of structure means you do things “whenever” and that whenever can easily turn into never. So I need to work on this, have some regular things to do each day, and a regular time to wake up. Because there’s a lot that I want to accomplish this year, and I don’t want to let a lack of efficiency hinder it.

Volunteer: I spent the first decade of my Portland life volunteering for various non-profit organizations like the IPRC, Portland Zine Symposium, and Cycle Wild. I pretty much let all that drop by 2013, with the Portland Tweed Ride being my only current volunteer activity. I miss that interaction, the helping out of an organization I believe in. So I need to get back on that. If anything, having a regular activity will add more structure to my life!

Art and the creative biz: I’ve done quite a bit of art in the last quarter of 2018 and want to keep that going. It’s fun, and also, it’s a way to make money. I’ve also got book projects in mind, like the eventual revision of the Bike Touring Primer plus a guidebook collecting many of the Portland area bike rides and walks I’ve done since 2004.

All of this is going to take time. Thankfully, giving myself more time was one of the reasons that I quit my job at the hostel. But the important thing here is to stick with it. I’ve got an opportunity here, I don’t want to squander it.

I look back to 2012, the year after the Big Tour. I was actually getting quite a bit of illustration work, just off my reputation alone. I was also drawing a buttload of comix, putting out the first New Old Stock in the summer. “Building my brand”, as they say these days. But of course I wasn’t thinking that way, more concerned about finding steady work. So when a position opened up at the hostel, I took it, and let all that creative work slide. All that I built up? It pretty much eroded away in the next five years. Here I am now, having to build it up again.

So I want to work at this. I want to spend my time wisely and think of the big picture. I don’t want to panic at my broke situation and run out and find a job. Because I’ll be no better off than I had before I started. If being an artist is what I want to do, I need to seize the opportunity. If there’s on promise to myself I want to keep, it’s to get all the way through 2019 before I start to think about a “real” job. Because I don’t know if and when I’ll get an opportunity like this again.

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2018 in review: Life and all that.

Hello friends. Previously I talked about my 2018 travels. That of course is only part of the picture of the past year. So now I’ll go ahead and talk about the other bits and bobs of the year that just passed:

The biggest news for me in 2018 is that I first reduced the hours at the hostel, then left it totally in November. This change felt like a long time coming, but it was only until this year that I had the will to make it happen. In its place I’m doing contract work and making a go with art and being creative. It of course isn’t the easiest thing to do, but I feel much happier than I did when I was working at the hostel. Money has been tight, but that was to be expected. (But if you feel bad about that, perhaps you should check out what I have available in my shop! Or consider hiring me to draw you something.)

Freeing up my time has led me to concentrate on my much-neglected art and other creative outlets. I’ve been drawing more in the past three months than I had in the past three years! This feels real good. I know I’ve always been “an artist”, but it’s been a long time since I felt like one.

And I am still in a happy and healthy relationship with my love, Emee. It’s been a good eighteen months. And she has been really supportive of me and my decisions. It’s much harder to make big changes in my life without being in a good place, or having someone who doesn’t think you’re silly for pursuing your dreams. (I can be silly in other ways, though. 😉 )

Looking back at the goals I laid out in for this year, I realize that a lot hadn’t been met. I didn’t bike more, I didn’t camp or tour as much as hoped (and didn’t get in a backpacking trip), and no, I didn’t save more money or eat particularly healthier.* But you know what? That doesn’t matter as much. Right now the two biggest things to me are: being in love with and awesome person and getting out of the rut I had found myself in since about 2013. I’m getting out of that rut, and figuring out what comes next. I’m excited for the future. And I hope all of you are also excited too, not just for me, but for yourself.

*I did ride a populaire, and did draw more, so I’m not a complete failure, right? 😉

Dead Freeways Ride, 9 March 2019

I’ve been doing the Dead Freeways Ride off and on since about since its inception in 2006. It’s been about three years since the last time I did one, and no better time than now to remind Portland folks of what kind of city we may have had if highway projects like the Mount Hood Freeway got built.

We’ll meet on Saturday March 9 at 11:00 AM. The meeting spot is Fehrenbacher Hof, 1225 SW 19th Av.  We’ll be leaving at 11:30 AM so you have time to get some coffee and breakfast!

From there, we’ll ride about 10 miles eastward, passing by current freeways, freeways that were like Harbor Drive and freeways that did not come to pass, like the Mount Hood Freeway.

The ride is not a loop, but will end near transit. After the ride, I’ll be heading somewhere to have a drink and eat. We can talk more about Dead Freeways there!

To get you ready for the ride, here’s a report from the first ride in 2006. And here’s a Portland Mercury article from 2009.

2018 in review: Bike Tours and Travels

Hello, friends! It’s the end of the year, so it’s the customary time to look back and review what had happened. Overall, 2018 was a decent year for me, with lots of fun adventures. I didn’t get anywhere near as much bike camping or touring in as I would have liked, but to make up for it I went out of town a bunch.

January: Emee and I traveled up to Vancouver, BC for the new year. I always get out of town for the holiday. Though I’d been up to Vancouver many times for the holiday, this was my first time with Emee!

March: This was a big month for travel, with a trip every weekend:

  1. March 3-5: Emee and I headed south to Chiloquin (30 miles north of Klamath Falls) and Crater Lake.
  2. March 9-12: I headed solo to Seattle to ride Seattle Randonneurs 100 km Spring Populaire.
  3. March 16-19: Emee and I travelled north to La Conner, WA for the Dandy Daffodil Tweed Ride. We then headed via ferry to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island for a little r ‘n’ r.
  4. March 26-28: Despite thinking three weekends in a row was enough, Emee and I decamped to Eastern Oregon, staying in the lovely Balch Hotel in tiny Dufur (15 miles south of The Dalles), and doing a ride on the Deschutes River Trail.

May: This was the month of the big train trip to the Midwest! Emee and I rode in luxury in a sleeping car on the Empire Builder to and from Minneapolis, where we took part in the annual Lake Pepin Three Speed Tour!

June: It’s a hard time to get out of town, since Pedalpalooza occupies the entire month. Still, I managed to snag a Three Speed Camping trip at the beginning of the month! And yes, this was the first bike camping trip of the year, ending a half-year drought.

July: Summer in full effect. Emee and I drove out to the Long Beach Peninsula in SW Washington right before Independence Day for some beach-themed r & r. In the middle of the month Emee and I bike-camped out at Battle Ground Lake, our first bike camping together trip. Then I took the train up to the Puget Sound for a mini-tour that turned out to be a comedy of errors (getting on the wrong ferry leading to having to find an alternate camping destination the first night, then a blowout the next day requiring a repair with judicious Gorilla tape.)

August: This was the month of my big tour of the year, a week-plus jaunt on the Oregon Coast. Emee joined me for the first half, making it the first time we bike toured together. It was grand!

September: Due to heat and smoke, a planned Three Speed Willamette Valley Tour did not happen. Instead Steve, Todd, and myself did a “regular bike” overnight trip to Champoeg State Park. At the end of the month Emee and myself snuck up to Snohomish, Washington (a far northside Seattle suburb) to participate in their Tweed Ride.

October: I got in my last bike camping trip with my friend Stasia to Oxbow Regional Park (without realizing I was coming down with the flu.) Emee and I rounded out the month with yet another trip to the Long Beach Peninsula.

November: I got on a plane with Emee and her kids (Oliver and Maire) and we headed to Texas for a week around the Thanksgiving holiday, visiting family in the Houston area and friends in Austin. We (Emee and I ) capped off the month with a quick work-related train trip to Seattle.

December: No travel (yet) this month, but Emee and I will be spending New Years in Bend!

So you can see it was a busy overall year for travel, but not so much for bike travel in particular. Okay, I travelled with bikes on a number of trips, like the times in Seattle and Vancouver and the Minnesota excursion. And that’s always cool. But trips relying (mostly) on a bike for travel was much more sparse: I didn’t even bike camp before June, for instance. I got two tours in (one a four day, one a week plus) then only four bike overnights. This is a pretty low number for me. While I’m not discounting the other trips I did in 2018, I really wish I did more bike camping or touring. I know I always say this, but I want to do more in 2019. Hopefully my loose schedule will open opportunities up a bit.

And you may have also noticed a lack of overnight hiking trips for 2018. After my Indian Heaven trip in 2017, I was gung-ho to do another one. I did have something in the works for September, but unfortunately it fell through. I’d really like to do something in 2019, at the very least one trip. If you’re in the area and going somewhere, hit me up!

In any case, I’m looking forward to an exciting 2019.

Bike Touring Workshop, 2 March 2019

It’s a new year, so a good time to think about upcoming bike tours! Are you in Portland and want to take a couple hour practical class on Touring? Well, you are in luck!

I’ll be having my Bike Touring Workshop on Saturday March 2, 2019, from 10:30 AM to 1 PM. Like the last one, it will be held at Golden Pliers Cyclery, the newish bike shop and cafe at 1451 N Skidmore St (right near the Prescott Station on the Yellow Line MAX!) They have a cafe with coffee, beer, and food so you can come hungry if need be!

The description: Are you itching to hit the open road and explore nature in a way you haven’t yet? Are you a regular bicycle rider but have never taken a bicycle tour? Then join us to learn more about Self-Supported Bicycle Touring and Camping. We’ll be discussing equipment, planning, and cost as well as day-to-day life on the road.

No camping/touring experience required, but this workshop is designed for folks who regularly ride a bike. We will not be extensively discussing bicycle maintenance or mechanics, but may mention a few useful tips for touring.

This workshop will cost $15 and is limited to six participants. Register here: https://biketourworkshopmar19.eventbrite.com

Slough Country Ramble, 16 Feb 2018

As I said before, I don’t know how long I’ll be around the Woodlawn neighborhood, which means my easy access to the beloved Columbia Slough. So to bid adieu to this region, I’ll be leading one of my favorite rides: The Slough Country Ramble!

We’ll be meeting on Saturday February 16 at 11 AM at Cafe Eleven, 435 NE Rosa Parks Way, Portland, OR 97211. We’ll be here until 11:30 AM, so you’ll have some time to grab a coffee and breakfast before we take off. From there, we’ll head down to the Slough for the next couple hours. (Bring a snack!)

The ride is about 20 miles total. Bring a bike that can handle a little rough stuff. Ride not a loop, but will end near transit, food, and beverages.

A post-solstice Slough Ramble: 22 Dec 2018

As I’ve said previously, I haven’t done much riding lately. General busyness, not having to leave the house to go to work, and general winterness has brought my riding almost to zilch. Heck, I don’t think I got on my bike for a good week before Friday the 21st. So, a ride of some sort was in order. And what better place to head to than the Columbia Slough?

One of the great benefits of living in the Woodlawn neigborhood of NE Portland is that the bottomlands of the Columbia Slough are close at hand, featuring miles of bike paths, secluded woods and wetlands, and a degree of quiet and solitude not found in many other areas of Portland. I know I will not be living in Woodlawn for that much longer.

After five years in the ‘hood, I’ve remained pretty indifferent to it. I’ll never be one of those Woodlawn boosters who’d the Woodlawn Triangle tattoo’d on their bod,* nor will I badmouth it. I doubt I’d miss most aspects of living here, especially its relative distance to other things in Portland. But I’ll definitely miss the ease of accessing the Slough. (That and the general proximity to St Johns and Ranch Pizza.)

Anyways, I got out of the house in the afternoon on Saturday December 22 to take a Slough Ride. I chose Saturday because earlier in the week it promised to be a relatively dry day, a break in the constant cycle of winter storms that beset the Northwest in December. Of course, the forecast on Friday night called for a wetter Saturday than originally forecast, but the initial forecast turned out true, the rain holding off until nightfall. (And after nightfall, boy did it rain!) The day featured that particular high cloudiness that seems to be a trademark of winter in the West. The sun was faintly visible behind this cover, giving off a weak, diffuse light. Still, the high clouds meant that the snowy volcanic peaks were pretty visible, resplendent in fresh powder.

I originally had the ambition of getting all the way out west to Kelley Point Park, where the Columbia and Willamette Rivers meet, but with day shortening I ratcheted back the plan to go as far as Smith and Bybee Lakes, the largest “lakes” within the city. They are shallow wetland lakes, so during the summer they can dry up. But the water levels were pretty good. I got close to Bybee Lake, and waited.

The constant drone of distant traffic and factories plus the clang of freight trains is always present down here, but now I started to hear the birds, and just the birds. I was still in the city, but I didn’t feel like it. I needed that, to recenter myself. I’m glad that I can do that pretty easily here.

It was starting to get dark, and the weather radar was foreboding, filled with big globs of rain heading my way. I turned ’round and headed towards civilization. It was good, and I’ll be back.

Palm Tree Ride, Sun 20 January

Yes! The Palm Tree Ride is back! I did it for ten years straight (2005-2015), then took a few years off. I brought it back last year as a one-off, with the idea I’d revive it if I felt the urge. Well, I can’t say it’s going to go on forever, but I definitely want to do it this year!

The premise, as always is the same: A 7 to 10 mile casual bicycle ride (not a loop) explorin’ the palm trees around town. I also throw in some other exotics and evergreens, like eucalypts, madronas, yuccas, Oregon myrtles, and such. These trees and shrubs keep the city green through our grey and cool winter months, when all the deciduous trees have dropped their leaves. Seeing a bunch of them in the middle of winter brightens the mood, and reminds us that winter here may not be as bad as we feel.

I aim to explore a different area of town for each ride. This year (2019) we’ll be exploring the areas around Mount Tabor, and won’t stray super-far from that extinct volcano

Meet me for the Palm Tree ride on the morning of Sunday January 20th. We’ll be meeting at Fillmore, 7201 NE Glisan St at 11 AM. We depart at 11:30 AM. Fillmore is a coffee shop with a bagel sandwiches, so you won’t go hungry!

We’ll ride around for a few hours, stopping at many a palm and the like. We’ll end at a place with food and adult beverages. This ride is not a loop, but we will end near transit.

Hope you can make it!