Saturday, October 21, 2017

Coffeeneuring Challenge 2017 #4: Western Bike Works

This morning I rode into town for Shabbat services at my shul. It was sweet and contemplative and just what I needed.
 Afterwards, I rode a short distance to Western Bike Works, where I would enjoy pour-over coffee and dry off a bit.
I was very surprised and disappointed to discover that the coffee bar had been removed, replaced by expanded repair check-in parking and a single tall cafe table with chairs (for folks to wait at during short repairs).

The guys were very friendly and one even invited me to take off my wet things and dry out a bit. "Help yourself to some drip coffee," he said, motioning towards the single hot-pot near the counter. "No charge."
So I did just that. A copy of the latest Portland Mercury was on the table, and I had my coffee, an energy bar from my bag and a little glance through Willamette Week's snarkier stunt-double while I observed my surroundings.

My bike felt out of place amidst the brand-new carbon-fiber and disc brakes all over the place.
Meanwhile, a repair stand and tools where  community bulletin board used to be indicated a new spirit in the place.

Considering that all of the tools were (a) still hanging there and (b) pretty darned clean, the more bicycle astute among their visitors would have figured out the vibe pretty quickly without the sign.

Still, it was good to be able to dry off a bit before suiting up again for the ride home. And for drip, the coffee wasn't terrible -- as long as you skipped the CoffeeMate.  And it was free, which saved me money and allowed me to enjoy myself without breaking the prohibition against spending money on Shabbat. (Seriously, though, I make better coffee at home.)                        

Sadly, I'm going to have to rate this one a fail, both for the removal of the perfectly nice little cafe and for the vibe that seems to have moved into the space.
By the time I rode from the non-cafe into downtown I was soaked again. The rain had not subsided all morning. And I was beginning to feel some fatigue creep on me from way inside (the way it does when I've expended myself and the Crohn's is rearing its head a bit.
So I tossed my bicycle on the bus and let Trimet do the driving.
(Below: Holladay Park, through the glass.)

 Total, around seven miles when all was saidand done. And now, naptime

Friday, October 20, 2017

Coffeeneuring Challenge 2017 #3: Kenton Cycle Repair

So right now, I am super-broke, which means I am taking coffee I made at home, sticking it in a thermal cup, and riding somewhere else to drink it.
To try for a stop on my theme-with-a-theme, I chose to ride into Kenton and say hi to my friends at Kenton Cycle Repair.

It was a lovely, damp afternoon and frankly, I've been fighting the deepening mood swings that come with Seasonal Affective Disorder (yes, it's a thing, and it's real, and I can tell in minutes when it comes on). Depression can be helped by physical activity. But sometimes it's hard to get started, or even get out of the house.
So I gritted my teeth and headed out. About a mile and a half in, I didn't mind the drizzle or the breeze anymore. I stopped along the way to take a photo or two and the sun peeked out for a little bit. By the time I made it to Kenton neighborhood, some 3 miles away, I felt noticeably better.

The newly-adjusted BStone, with improved handlebar and position.
LOVE the Surly Open Bar I scored for a song. (Yeah, I'm good at that. No, it's not for sale. The old handlebar is for sale if anyone wants it. CrMO. $40 shipped or $25 local pickup.)
Evidence of coffee in bike shop.
Nossa Familia French roast, in Klean Kanteen mug.
This is the good stuff, trust me.
Better photo of the gang, from left:  Josie, Ashley, Rich and David.
If you live in North Portland -- or even if you don't, it's worth the ride -- stop in for some bike love. Nice people who know what they're doing and love ALL kinds of bicycles and bike riders.

Super-cool skull jar.
You know you love it.
Admit it.
Come on.

Everything was great -- even the pouring rain I left just in time to get soaked by, until I made my way to the Kenton MAX station. (The Paul Bunyan statue has been restored, repaired and repainted, and looks very nice.)
While I waited for the next light rail train under a glass canopy, I suddenly felt an intense, burning pain on the inside of my thigh just above my knee. I pulled up my pant leg, but saw nothing. I stood there a little longer and the pain continued to really, really hurt. I pulled up my pant leg again and as I did, a bee (or yellow jacket? Not sure -- it wasn't at all fuzzy and the black and yellow were very bright and vivid) fell out from under my pant leg. As it lay there on the ground, I grimaced, realized what had happened, and stomped the little bugger flat. (Yeah, I know, hive collapse and all that. Sue me. My leg hurt.)
By the time I got home, a tiny dark red pinpoint was visible, and right now, over an hour later, it still stings like hell. I checked closely and found no evidence of a left-behind stinger (phew!). But a fair amount of venom got in there and it's sore. I can breathe and I feel otherwise okay so I'm sure it's all fine.
I probably rode around 6 miles total. I feel better. And it's raining again. Because this is Portland.
Happy riding!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Coffeeneuring Challenge 2017- #2: Water Avenue Coffee

I thought it would be nice to collect a few Portlanders who were all taking on the Challenge in one place so I suggested it to a friend, and suddenly there was a Facebook event.
He suggested Water Avenue Coffee as a nice, centrally-located location. I suggested we make it a suit-yourself ride (find your own way there, drink lots of coffee with friends, find your own way home).

So that's what happened.

On the way, I took the route through inner eastside Portland that I used to take to Citybikes Annex when I worked there. I had heard a rumor that the colorful mural, which had be created while I was still a co-owner there (and a small piece of which graces my second album), was totally gone, the entire building painted over with marine gray and the pack lot fenced in.
I stopped and admired the trees that I used to watch turn every fall, every day for so many years. When you watch a landscape evolve over time it becomes part of you in a way.
Even though I didn't take this route regularly (or very often) anymore, I still liked to watch these trees change color.
Due to the lack of rain this summer, the colors have come a little late this year, but most of the trees are still vivid red and orange.

I pulled up to the building formerly known as The Annex and stared. It was as if it had never been a bike shop. Even the cobbwork bench and plexiglass awning, held up with old bicycle frames, had been pulled off the wall out front and was totally gone.

I rode on, taking Stark over to SE Wall Avenue and riding along the bike lane, now lined in many places with so many clusters of tents that they were becoming ubiquitous -- just as the whole homeless population in Portland was becoming.  At one point, I noticed that a homeless encampment had utilized an old bike team awning that I had seen a year or two before at a cyclocross race. Wow.

Inner eastside was still mostly industrial, with truck depots and warehouses, though signs of the coming gentrification were appearing here and there (I believe some re-zoning and some soil cleanup is in order before we'll see hi-rise condos in this part of town).
Still, there are hints that those who will be tossed aside by gentrification won't go quietly.

I finally pulled up to Water Avenue Coffee, where my friends were waiting, and where we were eventually joined by a few more folks who'd seen the event posted on Facebook. It's a nice place, though if you have nut allergies you'll want to have an entree instead; most of the baked goods are vegan and utilize walnuts or pecans to boost the protein.
We had a lovely, lazy time over cups of coffee, and when Katie ordered too much of a good thing she gladly shared it with the rest of us. (I will definitely go back for the open-faced almond button-and-sliced-banana sandwich).


When it was all over, we went our separate ways. I headed over to Rivelo (not exactly around the corner but it's close enough that it took me five minutes to ride there, plus it was nice to visit with John).
On the way home, Another glorious burst of fall color, a large tree near my house that, in spite of having been trimmed clear of the telephone lines, was still majestic.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Coffeeneuring Challenge 2017 - #1: Gino's Teriyaki

I know, the rules say I'm supposed to drink something hot.
But after delivering a bunch of parcels to the Post Office (and standing in line and paying a small fortune to mail them all), I was more hungry than thirsty; so I opted for a favorite cheap go-to of mine down the street.
Gino's Teriyaki (714 NE Killingsworth St, Portland, OR) serves basic cheap pan-Asian food. It's nothing fancy but it is fast, fresh, hot and satisfying. So while I waited for the swirling rain and clouds to continue on their way, I dried off over a chicken bento bowl and the latest edition of Willamette Week, Portland's free hipster weekly.
I was shocked at how little actual story copy was left in this fashion-food-dope rag, and how many pages had been given over to the ins and outs of [legal] recreational marijuana.
Either WW has gotten worse or I've gotten older. Or both.
But the food was great, and at a little over five bucks is about the same as a cup of coffee and a pastry. So I'm gonna call it good.
This stop does not meet my criteria for coffee shops near or in bike shops. But I stopped at the nearest bike shop on the way home (Revolver) to ask for free dead inner tubes (I patch these and use them in my fixer-uppers for refugee resettlement). Maybe a stretch, but it's all good. And I got to enjoy some lovely fall colors to boot.
BStone MB-4, loaded with CDs and perks for folks who pre-ordered my latest recording.

 Good, fresh, hot and cheap.

 Evidence of participation.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Coffeeneuring 2017 preview and Theme announcement

So this Friday marks the start of the 2017 Coffeeneuring Challenge.

It will be my fifth year of participation, and I am working a theme for this year's challenge.

But first, a word from my [un]official sponsor.

If you are new to coffeeneuring this year, you can get the rundown of the rules (there are a few) by clicking on the link above.
And please, pleaes, PLEASE make sure that you bring along a reusable thermal mug for your coffeeneuring adventures. Because too many coffee shops and cafes still insist on serving their coffee -- even if you're planning on having it in-house -- in paper cups. (In some places, they even serve it in -- gasp! -- the dreaded styrofoam.)
Don't be the one who takes coffee in a non-reuseable cup!
Bring your own!

I know, I know. Thermal cups are not cheap. The good ones are double-walled stainless steel and come with various tops that will either keep liquid hot a long time and/or make it easier to sip on-the-go.

But you can find them used and cheaper on eBay and craigslist.

Two makers are especially popular right now:

1. Hydro Flask -- based in Bend, Oregon, Hydro Flask is the new kid on the block. I haven't used their products but a few of my friends love them.

2. Klean Kanteen -- based in California, Klean Kanteen was doing this before it became cool and I love their stuff. Of note are their double-walled thermal cup designs with a loop cap or a easy-sip cap. I have been fortunate in that I've managed to find my Klean Kanteens used, either from garage sales or, in one case, for free. This one I found without a cap while riding across the Broadway Bridge five or six years ago. I found it, took it home, washed it thoroughly and bought a new cap for it.
It's small and portable and I travel with it on tour. I'm drinking from it right now as I type.
People know me by this mug now, which is sort of cute.

Some coffee sellers will give you a nickel or dime off your drink if you bring your own mug, another good reason for go refillable (because self-interest often sells more than guilt).


Now, for the announcement of this year's theme.

Every coffeeneur has the opportunity to choose a theme by which to mark their coffeeneuring route in a given year. There are no extra points for this, it's just a fun thing.  This year, I've decided to seek out coffee joints that are next to -- or inside -- bicycle shops.
It sounds like a no-brainer, and maybe it is. But that's only because we have a few in Portland.
And they're not all near each other, so I'll get in a few miles on the way. If at least five of my seven stops are in or near (within a block of) a bicycle shop, I'll call it good. Stay tuned and watch for updates during the Challenge, here at the blog.


Portland-area Coffeeneurs: There's an unofficial Coffeeneuring group thing n Saturday morning the 14th. Meet up at 9:30 at Water Avenue Coffee, choose your own route there, and those who want to continue the ride can do a flashmobride into Downtown Portland afterwards. Nothing official, don't RSVP, just show up by 9:30 to enjoy coffee by bicycle.

And PLEASE bring your own cup.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

refugee bikes: update

As my readers know, I've been refurbishing old bikes and passing them along to Catholic Charities for distribution to newly-arrived refugees. Each bike is tuned up and/or repaired as needed and comes equipped with lights, rack and a lock.

I took a break for the High Holy Days, and to repair a couple of family bikes; but now I'm back and collecting more bikes and parts.
Because of Portland's hilly landscape (lots of small dead volcanoes out there), I need old geared bikes -- road and mountain bikes, no singlespeeds, please.
-- Adult sizes only (26" or larger wheels), as I cannot handle the liability issues that arise with kids' bikes.

I also desperately need working U-Locks with keys. I prefer not to send out a bike with only a cable lock, as these can be easily cut in seconds and many new arrivals live in places where they must store their bicycles outside.

Other items I like to equip the bikes with include
-- water bottles (new or washed) and cages;
-- flat pedals (metal or plastic)
-- rear racks or baskets
-- upright handlebars

I'm good for lights for now, thanks to a generous donation from the nice folks at Portland Design Works (thank you, Hazel!).

Also -- if you have old inner tubes you haven't gotten around to patching I will gladly accept them as donations. I patch them and use them when tuning up the bikes (and it keeps them out of the landfill!).
(Below: patched tubes, ready to reuse.)

I will be tuning bikes all winter, in between touring and music work.

Thanks and happy riding!

 (Pictured: Recntly-tuned bikes that are now enjoying new life under riders in Portland and Salem.)

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

bicycling: the wonder drug that works

So last weekend was really tough.

Juxtaposed among my cantorial soloist duties out of town were the start of my period and the hormonal fluctuations that go with that; the lack of access to a bike (or time to ride it); and the ongoing downward spiral of the news of the world.

(Helluva time to have to deal with Yom Kippur, no?)

So on the train back from Bremerton on Sunday, I had time to ponder, in my hormonal swirling haze, the size and dimension of the handbag we're all riding to hell and how the very act of living, of taking up space in the world and using up resources was rapidly becoming seen as a crime by the lords of industry. Because apparently social Darwinism is cool again. (kids -- see: Germany, 1930s)

By the time I got home, I was exhausted (from leading YK services, which takes a lot out of a soloist even on a good day) and heading down, down, down into a very bad place. So bad that, when it came time to build our Sukkah yestyerday, I didn't have the energy or the desire to get started. Finally, the crying jag came on Sweetie's shoulder, during which she said, "when you're finished you can take a nap. And riding to your student's house tonight for a lesson will make you fell better. So will drinking a lot of water."

Of course, she was right. She almost always is.

I was in a much better place after the lesson, and today I will go for another ride in the cooling air of autumn in Oregon.
I am still dog-tired and another nap will be in order; but once again the amazing healing power of a simple bicycle ride can really help.

Happy riding, dear readers.