Monday, July 24, 2017

Ride report: sunday parkways 10th anniversary: NE Portland

Yesterday, I pulled on my t-shirt and ID badge and took part in my tenth season of Portland Sunday Parkways, as a Roving Mechanic.
Here's my first Parkways, back in 2008:

  
 
Back in the day, I hauled a fair amount of tools and parts in a cargo bike, before there were fully-equipped bike repair stations at every park and a couple of the loops were almost ten miles long. These days, I don't need to carry quite so much, or use a cargo bike; though I still insist on packing a good assortment of tools, some spare tub es and a floor pump.

It was a nice day for a ride. The morning shift meant cooling breezes and lighter traffic during the first hour or so, allowing me to take my time and enjoy the scenery. I had three repairs during my 2.5 hour shift, including two flat fixes and a fit adjustment. Easy stuff, but it allowed me to get folks back on their bikes quickly and that's what counts. I LOVE doing these rides every summer.

Scenes from this year's 10th anniversary edition of Parkways Northeast:




(Yes, a Block Party. Courtesy of PBOT.)


(Cargo bike and trailer, bringin the party to where you are.)






(Keeping the customer satisfied. Nice young man riding a slightly too-large bike. I adjusted the saddle and tilted the bars down towards him a little so he could enjoy his very first Parkways. I ran into him and his family a few times along the route after that and they were having a grand time. Reminder to self - pack a small adjustable wrench next time so you don't have to resort to using a cone wrench on a 14mm bolt.)

It was so fun, I've signed up to do the next one on August 20th (Outer NE).
Sunday Parkways needs thousands of volunteers every summer to help make it happen!
Volunteers get a free t-shirt, water and snacks, and a fun time!
Sign up and join me!Happy riding!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Sunday extra: Kansas bike no more

After hemming and hawing, and having difficulty finding a buyer in the Overland park area, I had to decide quickly whether to donate the Kansas bike, or ship it back to Portland.
This summer marked my last Incredible June where I would stay for nearly a whole month.
Next year, assuming the camp happens again, I've told my employers that I would only be available for a day of staff week and the two weeks of camp. I simply cannot be away from home a whole month anymore.

So in the end, I decided to ship the bike home. I figured that if it rode well enough after a light tuneup, then the seatpost height would make it fairly adjustable for a range of rider sizes and give us a guest bike to keep on hand. Tuning it up meant lubing the bearings, truing the wheel that got bumped in shipping, and adding a more permanent front fender cobbled together from parts (thanks, Bike Farm!).

The gearing is a little high for Portland's hills but I'm not going to invest too heavily in changing it before next spring. For now, it rides just fine. And now it's the Guest Bike.


 Zip-ties make bicycle add-ons easy and secure enough for city riding. The fender came from Bike Farm; the stay was pulled from a found metal fender that fits nothing. I may add a mudflap later.
 
This canvas saddle pouch came from a swap meet several years ago. It had been badly worn by tire rub on a saddle that was too close to the rear wheel. I patched the hole with a tire patch, conditioned the leather trim and let it be. Works fine.

The cockpit (below) includes a Misfit Psycles upright handlebar that works great with the bike's original stem. Very comfortable riding position. And of course, no city bike is complete without a way to carry coffee.

I HAD to swap in some better pedals; the ones I'd ridden on for the past four trips were already in bad shape and were wearing out. So I found these lovelies and decided they'd be a nice upgrade.



Add to that a Carradice "Overlander" pannier and a Bike Bucket on the other side, and now it's a totally fine, practical, comfortable bike for getting around the city, and just down-at-heel enough to be less attractive to a thief.

It's getting harder to find older mountain bikes to set up this way. Even cheaper brands found at big-box stores, like Motiv and Sherpa, now sell on eBay and Craigslist for between $75 and $150, USED. So this entry-level bike is actually something of a find.
Let's hope that things improve as folks decide that bikes are simply bikes, and not (shudder) investments. Ugh.
Cheers --

Finally, officially home: ride report

Yesterday I finally found the energy to take a little bike ride. While hills still take my breath away (combination of fatigue and less riding) it felt good to get out and spin my cranks. And it felt good to finally feel like I was truly home. (Ahhhh.)

Photos from a meander through NE Portland:
                                                                             
Left: A dietary suggestion, courtesy of the local mom-n-pop store.
Stamina. Cracks me up.
I mean, I like an occasional corn dog, but I don't depend on it for anything nutritional.
















Transit in Portland is some of the best in the country.
And a relief to come home to after a month in Johnson County, Kansas -- which has basically NO real public transit at all. (Don't ask me why, unless you want to go deep into a discussion about racism in transportation planning...)






 Below: Newspaper box sticker art. Sadly, both are true.
   
Left: After depositing a check at my Credit Union, a stop at one of my favorite bikey hangouts. Non-profit bike repair space with VERY friendly staff! If you're in Portland, support the Bike Farm with donations of usable bicycles and parts, or a store purchase, or an annual membership that lets you use their workbenches and tools to fix your bike. I LOVE the Bike Farm!



Below: last stop -- Community Supported Everything's Free Closet. This was a good day to find free clothes, not so much for households and bike parts.
I am planning a day at home today to putter and get back into fixing up bikes for refugees.
If there's time I may take in another ride later on.
And if you're in Portland and have an old adult-sized bike you no longer need, let me know. I can always use more bikes for my project.
Thanks, and happy riding!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

it's good to be home again

Back in my beautiful city after nearly a month away.

I have continued to struggle with Crohn's-related fatigue, depression and digestion issues.
The steroid I was put in to get me through my month-long residency basically kept me from falling apart; but the effect has been less restorative and more like simply being propped up so I can continue to merely function, the difference between a proper operation and a swath of duct tape.

Today, with the weather finally cooled down. I am opting for a morning at home, followed by a short ride in the afternoon.
Truthfully, I have not enjoyed riding very much since the effectiveness of the last biologic wore off several weeks ago. Even looking at a bike on the hottest days of my kansas stay made me feel weary. Still, I rode as often as I could -- the distance between homestay and work wasn't very far, only a mile each way -- and when the fatigue was too much and/or I needed to save my energy, I happily accepted rides to the drugstore and grocery.

This is not the body that, only six years ago, raced a season of cyclocross and finished strong.
This is not the body that, five years ago, could still ride ten miles round trip with a nine-hour wrenching shift on my feet in between.
And while it would be easy for an outside to suggest that it's entirely my fauly for switching to a less physically-demanding career, many factors suggest that perhaps there were signs that my body pointed the way to that choice anyway. That there were subtle signs of slowing down, from aging and from Crohn's disease, that would have led me here today anyway, no matter how hard I had fought to keep my life where and how it was then. In the end, I'd still be here one way or another.

I miss the body that could do those things. I miss the camaraderie that came with that level of physical health and activity. I miss the vitality that came with physical exertion.
Yesterday, I mowed the lawn with our push-mower. It was overdue and had to be done.
When I was finished nearly forty minutes later (twice as long as it used to take me), I was dripping with sweat and exhausted. I had to sit in a chair in front of the living room fan for half an hour just to feel like I wasn't going to pass out.
The day before that, I had to take a bus errand, a short distance I could have easily covered by bicycle last fall. Taking the bus to and from wiped me out, and I had to take a nap when I got home.
This is what living with Crohn's feels like these days.

The blue bike I'd had with me in Kansas for the last three years arrived in Portland Thursday.
After hemming and hawing, I finally decided to bring it home again. I also told my Kansas employer that if they wanted me to return for camp next year, I could only give them the last day of Staff Week and the two weeks of camp -- the additional week-plus was out, along with all the Shabbat services I was asked to help lead. They could pay me less, of course; but I simply could not be away from home for a whole month anymore, especially while doctors were still trying to figure out what medical course to take. The rabbi didn't believe me until he tripped over the bike box in the temple office, all packed and waiting for FedEx to pick up.

I don't know what I'll do with it. I just knew that I wanted to bring it home again with me.

It is tiring and sad to ponder my low energy these days. Emotional and mental energy still requires physical effort. Depression intersected with Crohn's and perimenopause simply adds to the challenge, which is why I really want to feel like riding again. Riding helps with depression, but I need physical energy to do it. I hope that I'll have enough energy for a pleasant spin around the neighborhood.
Stay tuned.