A ho-hum Coffeeneuring 2017 Ride 5, plus Sunset Burrito Club. Mon 30 Oct

Oh, challenges. There’s always the urge to make every ride in a challenge “epic”, unique, cool, or interesting. If not that, make it a misadventure, something comic, something that you’ll laugh at after it’s done, or at least learn something from. But the mediocre installment of a challenge? What fun is that?

But mediocre is what Coffeeneuring Ride No. 5 for this year’s Coffeeneuring Challenge is what I find myself at. So read on, dear reader.

Monday October 30 was a day off, and I wanted to get a quick Coffeeneuring Ride in later in the day. I aimed for a familiar spot about three miles from my house. I won’t name it this time, but it’s near the intersection of N Killingsworth St and N Greeley Ave, and used to have another location on E Burnside. I have been here before many a time (probably even during a previous Coffeeneuring Challenge), but this time it just wasn’t as good as it has been in the past. Sure, the interior is great, and the counter jockey friendly and pleasant. I got a cup of house (drip) coffee, which I get nine times out of ten at a coffee shop. The beans were from a reputable roaster (Coava), but somehow it tasted burnt and weak at the same time.*

Not only that, but the music. Oof. I know that most coffee shops are playing some sort of a mix/”station” from Spotify or Pandora or what-have-you. But they were playing what is probably listed as the “Coffee Shop Mix”, that “blend” of bland MOR/Adult Contemporary/”Light Alternative” songs that some marketer determined as the “best” sound for a coffee shop.** And some owner of a coffee shop looks at their Spotify, clicks “Coffee Shop Mix”, and voila! They don’t even have to think about the music being played. It’s basically the modern form of Muzak for people who (think they) don’t like Muzak. Man, I miss the era when people actually played albums*** (and) **** in coffee shops, or at least played an actual radio station.*****

Anyways, enough of that. I left the coffee shop and went next door to pick up a burrito. It was mediocre as well, but convenient. (I’m not going to name the tacqueria, but if you were around Portland in the early aughts, it was one of the two “it” places to get a burrito in this town, albeit at its Alberta location.) The sun was getting ready to set, and I was mere yards from Rivendell Ridge, so why not do a Sunset Burrito Club? It’s late in the year, there ain’t going to be too many more of these (if any.)

I rode over to the Ridge and managed to get there as the sun was setting. Though technically sunset was 6 PM, due to the West Hills and the angle of the sun, it was passing behind the hills at 5:30. And while it was a warmish day of about 60F/16C, the stiff east wind meant it felt a lot cooler. I had to immediately put on a sweater as I sat down. But it was still a nice time.

So next time, I hope for a more grand Coffeeneuring Experience. But you have to take the good with the bad.******

*I carry a twelve ounce travel mug with me, and normally put in about two teaspoons of sugar. Normally it’s just right, but when the coffee tastes too sweet, I know it’s weak.

**If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s basically a mix of songs that sound somewhat like “Meet Virgina” by Shawn Mullins Train.

***It’s so weird to hear someone playing an actual album in a cafe/restaurant/bar/store anymore, that when they do, you think it’s Spotify messing up somehow. For instance, on my June bike tour when I went to Double Mountain Brewing in Hood River, I heard something that was deep off of The Clash’s Sandinista LP. And since I have listened to that album many of times in my life, it took me hearing a couple more songs in to determine that yes, they were playing Sandinista in sequence and in its entirety. And that is quite the commitment, because Sandinista is a TRIPLE ALBUM with almost 2 1/2 hours of music!

****Then again, every time I walked into a coffee shop in 2002, they were playing Yoshimi Vs. the Something-Something by The Flaming Lips, and I don’t miss that…

*****As long as it’s not the Kmart Radio Network.

******This footnote is just here for Norm.

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East Portland Cemeteries Ride this Sunday October 29!

Yes friends, the next Urban Adventure League ride will happen Sunday October 29 at 1:30 PM. Come explore at least four and possibly five different East Portland Cemeteries with me!

Meet at Parkrose Sumner TC (near “the bridge”), we’ll depart at 2 PM on a 12 or so mile ride exploring at least four and maybe five different and lesser known cemeteries along the spine of 1-205, and also a brand new park! We’ll also have a quick coffee stop about five miles in.

This ride is more about the ride and checking out things. Don’t expect an immaculate and exquisitely detailed tour at each cemetery, I don’t have all that. (If you want that, I hear they do a good job at Lone Fir.😉) Expect a lot of places you haven’t been before! And yes, ride not a loop but ends near transit. I’m going to get food and beer at the end, maybe you will too?

Coffeeneuring 2017, Ride 4: A coffee shop quickie, Wed 26 Oct

Back to back Coffeeneuring Rides, who would have thought? Well, technically it’s legal according to the rules Mary laid out, and you can do two rides in a week, so why not? I had the hope of pulling down the Schwinn Heavy Duti for this ride, since it would mean a different bike for each ride. But my lock appears to be jammed on it (wheel is locked), so no go there…yet. I hadn’t ridden the Raleigh Superbe this week, and we’re still in the bounds of the Three Speed October Challenge (though I’ve completed it), so why not?

This ride would be less epic than Tuesday’s jaunt to deepest SW. I was going to stay local. Living in Portland means there are plenty of options, so where? How about a place I haven’t been to in awhile, but less than two miles away! I chose The Arbor Lodge at the intersection of N Interstate Ave and N Rosa Parks Way. It was another nice(ish) day, but cloudy with a risk of a shower. Still I took my chances and sat outside, enjoying my macchiato and a snack.

And that’s about it! I then rode to my favorite neighborhood tacqueria for dinner, and enjoyed a pint at Lucky Lab Brewing on N Killingsworth. A total five mile loop from my house.

Maybe next time I’ll try something more dramatic…

Coffeeneuring 2017, Ride 3: To Deep SW, Tues 24 Oct

Portland is a rather large city. Its 640,000 denizens occupy an area of 145 square miles. So there’s a lot of area. For many people, “far out” Portland is the part of the city east of I-205, a vast swath of postwar suburbia. But I spend a lot of time out that way. For me, “far out Portland” is another swath of postwar suburbia at the opposite end of town. I’m talking deep SW.

How would I define “deep” SW? Well, it’s for one not the close in SW of downtown and the area hugging the Willamette River. Nor is it the tony hills above it. Nope, it’s the area beyond all that. As a dyed-in-the-wool eastsider, I have little reason to go out that way. Granted, there are a few areas of note like Hillsdale and Multnomah Village. But while a SW’er may argue otherwise, there’s not much there that couldn’t easily be found on the east side. The major reason I venture out this way is because my dentist is out here (Garden Home). But every once in awhile, I find the urge to come out this way and explore. What better time to do so than the Coffeeneuring Challenge? If anything, it means a longer ride. And a day like Tuesday October 24, with possibly the last time we’d see 70F/21C until 2018, was a perfect opportunity to explore.

And now there is a Five Points Coffee Roasters out in as deep of SW as you can get. Yes, the coffee shop owned by my former roommate Chris. I visited the original SE Division location during Coffeeneuring 2015. Since then, he added two more locations: one in Johns Landing on SW Macadam (which I have been to before, but not on a Coffeeneuring Challenge) and the newest one (added this year) on SW Capitol Highway in the West Portland Park neighborhood, a half mile down the road from Portland Community College’s Sylvania campus (and also from the city/county line.) It’s a 12 1/2 mile from my house, and it’s beautiful, so…ride time!

The first part of the ride was familiar territory, bombing down N Vancouver Ave to the Broadway Bridge and across the Willamette. Broadway through downtown has a bike lane, but it’s less than pleasant (Don’t get right hooked! Watch out for the clueless student walking into the bike lane!) Then it was the climb over the West Hills. Besides picking a route more suited for mountain goats over this small mountain range, bicyclists (and most cars) are funneled onto two primary routes: Barbur Blvd, which has a more gradual slope but is busier (State Route 99W) and features disappearing bike lanes where you most need it, or Terwilliger Blvd, a more scenic route (planned by the Olmsteads) with less traffic (but still more than you want) and steeper grades. I opted for Terwilliger. Besides, the big-leaf maples were showing off their colors.

From Terwilliger, I turned towards SW Capitol Highway. This road passes through Hillsdale and Multnomah Village. This part is fairly okay as bike riding goes. But after that, the shoulder/bike lane disappears, and the road becomes windy and hilly and narrow, with fast moving traffic. I was hugging the fog line, dodging speeding cars and shrubbery and branches that jutted out from the sides. This is the stereotype we eastsiders have of biking in this neck of the woods. I find it amazing that there are folks who regularly cycle commute out this way, but they are indeed out here (yet not in the same numbers of the east side.) I wondered to myself if I ended up in this part of town first rather than SE,* would I have become the cyclist I am today?

Finally I arrived at Five Points, in a strip mall a bit south of where Capitol Hwy crosses I-5. Chris was there to greet me. I got a lovely mocha and a blueberry muffin (baked by them!) and chatted with Chris for a few hours about the coffee biz in Portland plus our lives.

Before I knew it, it was 5 PM. I had grander hopes of getting here earlier and doing a more in-depth exploration of this far flung area (this marked the first time I’d been in this neighborhood, ever), but as I left, I could feel the chill in the air as the sun moved behind trees. Still, I wanted to do something out this way. So I headed for Nansen Summit, a small butte and high point (about 1,000 feet) just about a mile from the coffee shop. The last bit of the climb was steep, but I appreciated bringing the Bantam. (Y’see, I did entertain the notion of “underbiking” and ride the Raleigh Superbe out this way, but I figured with the hilliness of this area the lowest geared and best braking bike would be the most appropriate tool.) Nanset Summit would provide a 360 degree view of the Coast Range, west side suburbs, downtown, and all the snow capped volcanoes, if it wasn’t for some pesky McMansions and trees. So I had to squint between it all to take in the view. It was worth it, though.

From there, it was all down. With the sound of squealing brakes, I headed first towards Tryon Creek but then north again towards Hillsdale. While much of the outer SW I had just passed through was “gridded” to some degree, this area featured more meandering roads. It resembled to a degree the semi-rural areas of Connecticut I spent some of my younger years in, though the houses in CT were set back further from the road. I made a quick pit stop to the “beer window” at Moonshrimp Brewing, since it was (luckily) only open on Tuesdays. (Gluten free, too!) I did stumble across a few gravel streets and sneak paths, a definite bonus.

I wrapped up my deep SW biking adventure at Sasquatch Brewing in Hillsdale. The combination of a couple beers plus mac and cheese and a pumpkin spice goat cheese cheesecake did me in, and I decided to take the bus the rest of the way home. Hey, it was late and I had already done 20 miles, so still an accomplishment!

So yes, I need to get out to deep SW again sometime soon. There are still more roads that need to be explored. But I am thankful that I don’t have to bike out that way regularly…

*During my first month in town, I did live in SW, though it was Kings Heights, close to Burnside and west of downtown. Since then, I have not lived west of the Willamette.

Rainy day viewing…

I never got around to posting these vids to the blog, so thanks to Grass Up The Middle for doing it! 🙂

Grass up the middle CC

I stumbled upon these little gems this morning!

Well worth a few minutes of your time.

There are actually 4 parts to this BBC Scotland documentary, but unfortunately I could only find the first 2. If I manage to locate the rest of it I shall update this post.

Filmed in 1971 it follows ‘mechanised tramp’ Bill Houston, celebrating 25 years of cycle touring.

Enjoy…

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#threespeedoct2017 Week 3, Ride 3: 17 Oct 2017

Society Of Three Speeds

After three days of solid dry weather, we’re back into a wetter week. It didn’t rain on the way to work, but it definitely looked like it could for most of the day. While the high on Monday touched the high end of the 60’s F, the high today barely hit the high end of the 50’s. Yep, fall. And it feels more like fall each day, with the lessening amount of daylight and the leaves falling from trees.

The ride to work was uneventful, a well worn groove of a route I’ve done from my house in NE to SE Hawthorne Blvd. On the way home I stopped for coffee at Five Points Coffee Roasters, as I needed some beans and like to support my ex-roommate (he owns it.) After a stop at my post office, I got dinner. By this time, it was dark, so I took a…

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Bike Camping at Battle Ground Lake, 15-16 Oct (Also, Three Speed October 2017 Week Three, Rides One and Two, and Coffeeneuring 2017 Ride 2!)

Nice days in October. Seize the opportunity when you can, because in another month, you’ll be less likely to want to stay outside all day.

Earlier last week, I noted that the weekend was going to be sunny and dry, with a high around 65F/18C. This would probably be the last “real nice” days of 2017. So…bike camping? I thought about going somewhere different, like Champoeg. But at last week’s Three Speed Ride, I heard Todd B talk about going bike camping for the weekend of Oct 14-15. I told him I was interested, but it would work best for me if it was Sunday-Monday instead (Oct 15-16.) He could do it, and then suggested we do this as a Three Speed Camping Trip, he on his Brompton, me on my Raleigh Superbe. Sure! I hadn’t been on a three speed camping trip since June of 2016, the trip to Ainsworth in the Columbia Gorge, so I was overdue for some three speed camping action. I said we should go to Battle Ground Lake State Park in Clark County, Washington, since it’s relatively close but yet a “respectable” distance away (25 miles from my door), easy for Todd since he lives in Vancouver WA (so I can meet him along the way), and just a nice camping destination in general. A trip was born.

It’s been awhile since I used the Superbe as a camping bike, so Sunday morning was a furious whirl to set it up. Of course, I’d use my Carradice Camper Longflap saddlebag, as it basically lives on this bike. But I’d need more capacity. I thought about using my panniers, but felt I didn’t need that much capacity. So I put my Treetop small saddlebag on my handlebars. It’s about the size of a good handlebar bag, so it did the job well. The only issue was cable routing, as the bag got in the way of the cables. Everything still “worked”, but I figure if I do this setup more regularly, I need to get some longer cable/housing routings to give more room to the bag. For an overnight trip, I wasn’t sweating it too much.

I met Todd at his house in the Carter Park neighborhood of Vancouver around 1:30 PM on Sunday. From there, it was a ninety minute ride to the town of Battle Ground. Over the years I refined my route to be as “nice” as possible, which is a tall order for suburban and exurban Clark County, an area with a lot of strip malls and subdivisions, or a more rural landscape dominated with narrow roads and aggressive traffic. My route avoided as much of that as possible, though we did do a couple miles on ho-hum “Highway” 99 through the strip mall hell of Hazel Dell. It did have a bike lane, and a more gradual hill out of the Burnt Bridge Creek valley than my preferred route of Hazel Dell Ave. After Hazel Dell, it was some nice rural riding, except for the “road closed” section of Salmon Creek Blvd we managed to squeeze through!

We had an early dinner at Barrel Mountain Brewing, since Todd B wanted to avoid figuring out dinner at the campground. Growlers were filled, and we pushed our bloated bodies the final three miles to the campground. We got to Battle Ground Lake State Park at 5 PM, which meant we still had a little bit of daylight to set up. (Sunset was at 6:24 PM, yeesh!) Even though it was a Sunday night in October, there was a surprising number of folks camping, including in the walk-in sites where we stayed. (Guess everyone had the same idea we had! 😉  ) These sites were a third full, but since they are spaced out pretty good, we didn’t see our neighbors.

The night was good. We had a fire, talked about our lives while drinking some beer (and bourbon), and listened to shortwave. (Radio New Zealand came in good.) The sleeping was okay, it got down to about 40F/4C and I stayed pretty warm. The only disturbances came from Todd’s snoring (sorry!) and a distant pack of coyotes that was REALLY getting into the yelping and yowling thing.

In the morning we had a bit of breakfast. Since we are in the midst of the Coffeeneuring 2017 Challenge, of course my bike camping coffee was going to count towards this! So for Coffeeneuring purposes, this was Ride 2. I had some New Seasons blend via pour over, using my trusty Trangia 27 backpacker’s stove as the hot water method. It was lovely.

The ride back was good. We had a brief stop for coffee in Battle Ground, then got lunch at Heathen Brewing in Vancouver. Todd had to do some work, and I rode across the Interstate Bridge back to Portland, getting home around 4 PM.

*****
And yep, the Raleigh Superbe handled the camping trip well. I had enough to be comfortable for a night. The riding itself was fine, too. There are a few small hills but the landscape was fairly flat to rolling. The only time we walked a hill was going south out of that dastardly Burnt Bridge Creek valley. (I almost thought I could ride the whole hill, but I mistakenly thought I had a flat at the base of the hill, and getting off to check it killed my upward momentum.) Todd also had no issues with riding his Brompton. So remember folks: Three Speed bikes are more capable than you think! 🙂

And yes, this ride counts towards my Three Speed October Challenge! Since the rules say that each segment of an overnight trip ride can be counted separately, this was Week Three, Rides One and Two. One more after this, and I’m done with the challenge!

*****

This trip pretty much wraps up my bike camping/touring season for 2017. After this point, the days are just too short, and I don’t relish camping alone on a long and cold (and possibly damp) night. November and December are generally out of the picture. (It doesn’t help that I’m going to be fairly busy then, too.) I mean, there’s always the slight possibility that I could do another, as I have camped on Christmas Eve, but it’d have to be a camp out with other people. Once the New Year hits and days grow longer, and more importantly the itch to bike camp comes back again, it becomes increasingly likely I’ll go out to camp. But for now, time to put the tent in the corner.

Coffee Outside, 13 Oct 2017 (and Coffeeneuring Challenge 2017, Ride 1!)

Welcome to my participation in the annual Coffeeneuring Challenge! This will be my fifth year in doing it. Thank you Mary for putting this together! And what better way to start it off with a bit of Coffee Outside action?

I sure do like our local weekly coffee outside club, #pdxcoffeeoutside But I don’t go as often as I should. It has to do with time and logistics: Come Friday morning at 7 AM, I could be either in North Tabor or Woodlawn, and I may have to work at 8 or not. And #pdxcoffeeoutside has a rotating set of locations that is announced on Thursday. This week, I had Friday morning off and was staying at home in Woodlawn as Emee was out of town. And conveniently enough, they were doing it at Overlook Park, three miles from my house! Score! (Well, I did suggest that location. 😉  )

But getting up to go to coffee at 7 AM is easier said than done. (Unless you’re Stasia:) ) I am not a morning person. And it’s dark. But I made myself get up and go. Once on the road, things got easier. It was cool, about 45F/7C, so I had on a good amount of wool. And the threatened rain had stayed away, though Overlook Park had a picnic shelter if we needed it. I arrived around 7:30, and there was about eight folks there, drinking coffee and eating various baked goods. I got to work, pulled out the stove and kettle and ground coffee.

I had much more elaborate plans for food, hoping to have some breakfast taco action. I did pack my stuff the night before, but somehow I packed double of one thing and forgot another. And once I got everything going, I could not for the life of me find my pot grabber, even though I thought I had it. And no pot grabber meant no way to handle the pan or pots. Dang. So no tacos. (Of course, I found the grabber when I packed everything up.)

We all hung out to about 8:30 AM, until most people drifted towards work. Since I didn’t have to be at the hostel until 3, I went back home, taking a more leisurely way back.

Coffeeneuring Challenge 2017, Ride 1: Friday 13 October

  • Miles ridden: 7 (3 there, 4 back)
  • Bike: Raleigh Superbe
  • Destination: Overlook Park
  • Coffee drank: Ristretto Roasters Tres Burros
  • Prepared by: Pour over
  • Stove used: Trangia 27 with kettle