Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Coffeeneuring Challenge 2020 #7: The accidental Coffeeneuse

I hadn't planned on making another Coffeeneuring trip this week, even though my eye surgery looms closer every day. I figured I could find a way to squeeze it in at the last minute.
But then my sister called and said, hey! Let's meet up. Since I'd already planned bike errands I decided to tack on a quick cuppa joe at an outside table somewhere.
We settled on the Starbucks at 15th and Fremont, since it would be at the end of my errand loop and then I could head home.

Wanting to ride the singlespeed again -- I've fallen in love with this bike! -- I loaded up my backpack with the box I planned to drop at the Post Office, and rode up and over the little hill in bright sunshine. The sun is carving a much flatter, lower arc across the sky these days, so I wanted to enjoy the warmth while I could.

The Chrome backpack is an older model that was really designed for errands by bike, for messengers and others; its size and shape accommodate mailing boxes nicely with room to spare.

Riding on such a bright afternoon is challenging these days, thanks to my being between eye surgeries. The surgeries address both cataracts AND my need for partial corneal transplants in each eye. After the first surgery in mid-September, my left eye became immediately more light-sensitive, to the point where my first few weeks of rides have required me to wear sunglasses. Today, with the sun not as high in the sky, I decided to try riding without sunglasses. It wasn't as bad as before, though it wasn't ideal, either. My ophthalmologist has told me that over time my brain and eyes will adjust, but in the meantime it has been interesting to ride on sunny days. I am hoping that after the second surgery and some time, both my eyes will adjust so that I might not need sunglasses to ride.

After dropping the box off at my Post Office, I continued on down the other side of Sabin hill to the Fremont Starbucks, which was not far from where I needed to make an ATM deposit.

I parked and ordered coffee and an egg sandwich. As I finished my order, my sister pulled up and we grabbed an outside table.

I kept my mask on until S. had gotten what she wanted, then took it off to eat and drink.

After I finished my little lunch, I noticed an uptick in pedestrian traffic, and decided to put my mask back on, even though technically it wasn't required. I figured I'd see how it felt, since it seems likely we're headed into a time when restrictions will be increased again.
It actually was fine. I had no difficulty breathing or talking.

While we sat and talked, a guy walking by called out, "I like your bag!"

He pointed at the patches that basically covered the front flap of my backpack, and smiled broadly.
"Niiiice."

I admit it. I covered my bag with patches to personalize it and set it apart from the thousands of other bags Chrome has made. But it also brightens up an all-black backpack rather nicely, and shows off one of my favorite Coffeeneuring awards from previous years.



I also watched in awe while my sister simultaneously carried on a conversation and crocheted a brand-new pattern. Here's a little video of the master at work.


Yeah, she's amazing.

I wanted to get going before the sun sank low enough to make things cold again, so we said our goodbyes and I pedaled off, taking a scenic loop to find a gentler slope past the ATM and back up Sabin hill and then home.

On the way, I passed ReRun, one of my favorite second-hand shops. It was open for business, with racks of clothes in the parking lot and a sign requiring face masks for entry.
I didn't need anything so I rode past, and stopped briefly to admire the sky.
Looking at the bike rack I'd leaned up against, I saw this and couldn't resist.
Sadly, it's not so true anymore, especially in inner northeast Portland where expensive condos are breeding like rabbits these days.


I was really enjoying the sunshine, knowing that in another hour it would begin to fade and temperature drop. So I worked up some sweat to stay warm while riding back up the hill, and then meandered home while admiring turning fall leaves and the dry breeze gently rushing past my cheeks. 

And that is officially a wrap for my 2020 Coffeeneuring Challenge. Nothing terribly ambitious, but I'm glad I was able to participate. I will be spending my remaining free bike time in the Brain Trust, whipping as many bikes into shape as I can before my surgery, so I can get through as much of the stack as possible and have some space to work with when I resume wrenching sometime in January.
Special thanks to Mary G. for letting me start early so I could get in all my rides before my eye surgery. I know it's all in fun (and coffee!), but still I want to play by as many of the rules as I can.
For those of you completing your Challenge within the official allotted time, enjoy every ride and every cup of coffee along the way.
Cheers!

Monday, October 26, 2020

Coffeeneuring Challenge 2020 #6: Koken Coffee

It turned cold a couple days ago, coming in with some big wind gusts that made it even colder.
Today the wind calmed down and the temps warmed -- a little. The morning low was 35F, and the afternoon sunshine warmed things up to around 50. Bundled up against the cold, I tweaked my singlespeed one last time, swapping a laprade seatpost I'd finally scored, and then I set out for a brisk spin.














 


I managed a couple fast residential sidestreet loops around the far side of Woodlawn Park, primarily to meet the minimum two-mile suggested ride length, and then meandered over to MLK and Dekum, where I decided to give Koken Coffee a try.

They'd set up the space last year but were delayed in opening it until August. Now, they're offering fresh roasted Ethiopian coffee and select brunch items to go.

There was a picnic table facing east, which was bathed in sunshine, so if I sat there I'd be warm.

I ordered a cup of hot coffee and sat down outside to enjoy it.

The location is around the corner from the convenience store space, also called Koken [Market], that the family owns and operates.

If you didn't know where to look, you might miss the cafe; but brightly painted walls and a sign help mark the place.

The coffee is roasted on-site in a back room, with beans imported from the family's native Ethiopia.

Ethiopian coffee actually isn't my favorite; it's lighter than the dark roasts I normally like, and ends with note of fruit and flowers. If that's your thing you'll like this. It tasted fresh and lovely. Pro tip: Skip the creamer and just get some sugar if you need sweetener. The only thing they had on hand was some non-dairy flavored creamer that's pretty awful. The coffee is good enough black and I was happy to just take a little sugar in mine. Bonus: a cup of hot fresh coffee is no more than I'd pay at Starbucks, and this is a super-local small business I'd rather spend my limited funds at anyway.


I enjoyed my coffee at the picnic table, soaking in the sunshine and letting it warm my face.

While I sipped my coffee, I looked around at all the recent construction along Dekum.
In the past two years, several older houses had been removed and were replaced by three- and four-story apartment buildings whose architecture is what I'd call Hipster Brutalist: klunky blocks in earth tones.

Not the most inspiring look, but with houasing being at such a premium, replacing single-family dwellings with apartment probably made the most sense -- even if the new apartments cost more to rent than a couple of the smaller houses had.









I finished my coffee, unlocked my bike and took another longish loop back home, to put a total of four miles on my ride. I'm really enjoying my singlespeed these days. It's light, simple and easy to pedal since lowering the gearing on it. A perfect bike for urban coffeeneuring. I'm waiting for a slightly larger saddlebag to arrive, and I still need some way to carry a cup (though the latter will make the bike look more cluttered than I qwant, so maybe I'll just carry coffee in a thermal bottle  and call it good).

Thanks to Mary's dispensation, I will start and finish my Challenge early so I can get all my rides in before my second eye surgery, which is coming up soon.
Weather permitting, I'm planning a multi-modal ride for my seventh and final Coffeeneuring ride next weekend. If I have time to add an extra rider before my surgery, I will; but I'm not making any promises. I have a couple more bikes to finish working on and some manuscript to write out before my surgery (because afterwards, I won't be able to see clearly for a little while).

But I'm glad the fall weather has been sunny and brisk, and very pleasant to ride in.
Happy riding!

Monday, October 19, 2020

Coffeeneuring Challenge 2020 #5: Vaccineuring

This is more likely a candidate for January's Errandonnering festival, but I had to do it now.
It was past time for my flu shot. Not usually a huge deal, except for folks like me who are immuno-compromised and therefore need to take a little more care.
So I rode over to Safeway Pharmacy and stood in line.

The Pharmacy is inside the grocery store, and when you're waiting your turn you have to stand in a line that goes down an aisle, everyone spaced six feet apart and masked.

This did not make me feel noticeably safer. But this being Medicaid, you take what you can get, and give thanks that it's available and affordable. That's my One Good Thing today.

So I waited in line, filled out a form, handed it in and was shown to a small waiting room next to the Pharmacy counter. Where I waited a little more until the Phmaricy tech came in and gave my shot. The whole thing probably took 45 minutes, with most of that just waiting.

When I was done, I had a nice new band-aid on my left arm, and was ready to head out.

There was nothing else pressing this morning, so I stopped in at Starbuck's across the street to get an Iced Foofy Drink, which I enjoyed on the ride and finished at home.



I often pass this intersection on my neighborhood loop. It's home to a former mom-and-pop store that was pushed out of business when the 7-11 went in across the intersection. This is the shape of things around here, and everywhere I guess. Gentrification removes local color of all kinds, and replaces it with monoculture.

The longtime locals have responded to this in some colorful ways.

I use the still-empty store as a marker of sorts. I've lived in the neighborhood for almost two decades, and I figure that when someone is finally able to develop this lot, the gentrification process here will be nearly complete.

It's a shame. There's no way corporate culture will allow the small, local shops to compete with their franchises, so out they go.
This one was simply driven out of business by 7-11's lower prices and longer open hours. Sometimes that's really all it takes.

When I got home, I did a little more tweaking on my "new" singlespeed, which I'm really enjoying on my neighborhood rides. I swapped in a more comfortable saddle and added a safety triangle in back.

Bikehack: If your safety triangle won't hang flat because the vinyl has scrunched up, simply use a section of spoke to hold the bottom edge straight. It also adds a tiny bit of weight to keep the thing from flapping too hard, and improves visibility from the rear.




Next weekend, the weather's supposed to turn quite cold but remain fairly dry, a perfect opportunity for a longer ride and maybe some migratory fowl sightings if I'm lucky.
Happy riding!

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Coffeeneuring Challenge 2020 #4: Luncheoneuring at La Cocina

After five days camping with my sister and not doing a whole lot of physical activity, I was really ready for a ride today.
I planned to meet up with someone from Cascadian Courier Collective PDX to pick up my order of one of their cool cycling caps, and we decided on an intersection near their HQ. I chose to ride my "new" singlespeed, since I had adjusted the gearing by installing a smaller chainring and tightened everything down. The ride was easy and fun, except for the saddle (more on that later).

I ordered lunch at La Cocina, a quesadilla that promised guac, sour cream, cheese and shredded chicken.
I got everything but the sour cream, and since I was meeting up with someone I didn't feel oike hassling about it (it was included in the cost, so whatever).

As quesos go, it wasn't bad. The outdoor seating was spaced far enough apart for my comfort level, and I wore my mask unless I was actually eating or drinking.

My beverage on this sunny afternoon was a glass of ice water, that paired well with the slightly zingy guac.

I enjoyed some people-watching while eating and waiting for my cap delivery.



                 (Not this cap. I wore this one on my ride.)

While I finished lunch, a nice fellow from CCC-PDX stopped by to deliver my new cap.
All cotton and black, very classy, and it will fit my tiny head better after a washing.

Afterwards, I headed home, stopping at the drugstore to pick up a prescription. The sky was clouding over quickly, and I wanted to be home before the possibility of rain because I hadn't taken a jacket with me.


The one bummer about riding during the COVID times is that public restrooms aren't nearly as available now. So I have to ride around and look for someone doing a remodel -- and hope the porta-potty is unlocked. (With Crohn's and IBS, this can sometimes become quite urgent. Thankfully, Portland will always be under construction, at least until the final collapse of capitalism, so I can usually find one along the way.)



It was a lovely afternoon and I was so glad to get back on my bicycle.

The saddle issue will need to be corrected. I installed this light brown saddle thinking it would look nice. It does, but it's not actually leather -- which my tender butt can't handle these days.
So I'll pull it and try something else.
I'm enjoying this singlespeed bike and plan to keep it at least through next spring or summer. After that I'll see if it makes sense to keep it longer.

Anyone want a saddle, cheap? It's similar in size to a B-17, just a little firmer than my girly-butt likes. If you like the Cambium, this will work fine for you. $30 bucks includes shipping in USA.

Happy riding!

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Coffeeneuring Challenge 2020 #3: reuse, repurpose, recycle, enjoy.

 The rain came to Portland today, and it was delicious.

I had a hankrering for one of my One Good Things -- sushi -- so I rode over to Mio for a to-go Sashimi box. (Below: Evidence of participation. Thought this would be more attractive than a shot of me in mid-chew...)


The air was cool and damp, and I rode around until I found a covered spot to enjoy my lunch. I found a nice long bench under cover at the PCC-Cascade bookstore, where I enjoyed my lunch while watching fast-moving clouds come in from the west.
By the time I'd finished, I needed to don my rain gear because the clouds were directly overhead and began sharing water with the ground.
I may be tired of it by March, but the first rains of the fall are always a delight.

On my home, I swung by the Re-Claim It! store, a source for many of my craft projects (some readers may remember the Torah case, or ark, that I built from a reconsctructed planter box and old license plates, most of which I got here).
They are allowing ten people at a time into the shop with masks and distancing, and no one can spend more than ten minutes at a time inside. So I feel pretty safe here.

I didn't have a plan, but hit paydirt when I found these little flooring samples made of recycled rubber. At only 3.5 inches square, they're not useful for much, but I tapped one with the eraser end of a pencil and found enough rebound to act on a hunch. I bought several of them for a dime apiece and took them home.

Continuing on, I reveled in the sight of turning leaves everywhere I looked. Because of the dry summer, the colors aren't as brilliant as they could be, but there's still plenty of beauty to see before it all falls to the ground.

At home, I pulled out the flooring samples and found that my hunch was a good one: for drummers accustomed to playing high-tension drums, these would serve as portable, very novel miniature practice pads. I'll add a key ring to each one, and they'll make nice gifts for a few of my drummer friends.



I might keep one for myself, too.
Happy riding!

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Start to finish in pictures: My new Singlespeed bike. It's a keeper.

In early June, I jumped on what I thought was going to be a three-speed bike. I planned to buy it and fix it up in time for Society of Three-Speeds' fall event. I bought it for ten bucks. I it needed a lot of work, including a rebuild on the rear wheel; but it was all there.













As the summer wore on and I got busy with fixing bikes for other folks and preparing to lead High Holy Days services, the bike inched along in progress. I'd remove a wheel or clean something and then set it aside. Finally, I was able to to take some time in late August and just hang out with this vintage Roadmaster for a few days.
This actually included putting it in the stand, sitting across from it and sipping coffee while I started at it.
The bike definitely had issues. The frame was faded and a bit rusty inside, and the wheels were rusted to the point of corrosion, especially the rear rim.


 

 

I realized that, because of how far gone both wheels were, it would actually cost me more time and money than I cared to spend to bring it back as a three-speed. I also realized that, between having to support a third wheel/tire size in my stable and not being all fired up about three-speeds, I knew I'd have to move this along or turn it into something else.

So I began to re-vision this as a singlespeed townie bike.

I had most of the parts already except for a better fork. I decided to get a 26 x 1 3/8" fork with better dropouts, and use 26"/559 mountain bike wheels with street tires. When a pair of red tires fell into my lap for ten bucks, I suddenly realized what kind of Singlespeed it would be, and that if it worked out I'd keep it for myself.

After swapping in the smaller wheels:








 At this point, I had a coaster-brake rear wheel that was easy to swap in. I rode the bike around the block to see how it felt and realized two things:


a. the coaster brake wasn't enough to stop someone my size safely and quickly by itself, so I'd have to add a hand brake for the front wheel.
b. The cottered crank had slippage in the left-size crank arm, which meant I'd have to open it up and either overhaul it or replace it. Ugh.
I have the tool to remove crank cotter pins, ad it works great; but the system itself is klunky and really heavy. So if I opened it up, I sort of didn't want to simply clean it up and put it back together.

Since the frame had been made in the US, swapping in a cartridge bottom bracket and modern singlespeed crankset wouldn't be a problem. So in the end that's what I did.

Finally, I set about replacing the original fork with its cheesy, pressed metal dropouts with a chrome stock fork with real dropouts, stronger and better for the quick-release wheels going on.
And I found a better handlebar/stem combo from my parts pile that would allow me to ride slightly more upright and comfortably, and finished off the bike with a pair of caliper hand brakes.

The current gearing is 44 x 22, much lower than the bmx standard of 44 x 16 but still a tiny bit high for my aging knees. I'll live with it until I can find a 40t or 38t chainring, not a huge rush right now since I'm not riding very far on the bike. I'll probably also look to eventually swap in a lighter seatpost and saddle (though for now what I've got works fine).

I added a small saddle bag to hold tools and a lock, fenders for the rainy season, and platform pedals with plenty of grip, and took it for a ride today. Once I'd dialed in a few final adjustments, it was delightful and I can't wait to take it on longer rides around the city.

The finished bike.



Monday, October 5, 2020

Coffeeneuring Challenge 2020 #2:disparity, difference and how it all fits

I spent most of the day working on a bike in the little shed I call the Brain Trust.
But late in the afternoon, I needed to get to the hardware store to pick up some drain cleaner.
So off I went on the Bridgestone.
It was another lovely day with plenty of afternoon sunshine and blue skies.
Along the way, signs of the growing disparity between so many things -- the haves and have-nots, the connected and the isolated, the dilapidated and the newly-built.
As I made my way along some of NE Portland's loveliest back alleyways, I was struck by the new growth and how poor a fit it is along these narrower streets and alleys. I tried to make friends with a cat, who stared at me for awhile before growing bored and slinking off.

One Good Thing: I loved the feel of the warm sun on my back and shoulders.

When I got home, I poured myself a glass of chocolate milk and called it good before taking a short doze in our living room chair.

(P.S. grateful to Coffeeneuring goddess Mary G, who understood my need for an early start and finish to my Challenge and rubber-stamped it.)



Left: from a traffic fatality of a few days ago.
The short distance between a memorial marker and a fellow who is very much alive.








Below: A gimungous duplex, much too big for the corner it occupies and far beyond the reach of most hourly-wage workers. There were two small houses standing there before the lots were combined, the houses torn down, and this behemoth put up to accommodate the same number of families. Brilliant.

   Nothing to see here, move along.

  Below: junk now being left in the pocket park
  because apparently it's too unsightly to make a
  free pile in front of your own house.

  Below: I LOVE these little alleyways, with  
  their gravel and potholes and uneven paving.
  They are all that's left of the grit and funk
  that once dominated this part of town.



 I'll be sticking with two rides a week, though my rides next week will be at the end of the week rather than early like this week.
Wherever your wheels take you, enjoy the ride and remember to hydrate.