Wednesday, January 29, 2014

the music thing: cd release party, Sunday Feb 2

I am releasing my CD "Ten Miles" this Sunday, Feb. 2, at a show that will benefit Jewish Family and Child Service of Portland.
If you're in Portland, come on down to World Cup Coffee at NW 18th and Glisan (near couch Park).
Doors open 4pm, show starts 4:30 pm.
No-host Food and drink for sale; CDs will be available at the show.
Cover charge - suggested $10 (sliding scale), benefitting Jewish Family & Child Service which does great things for low-income families and kids in Portland.
Bike parking all around the block. Trimet bus 77 and the Portland Street car have stops nearby.
Come on down!

Friday, January 24, 2014

greys and bikes: tiring of the youth culture

A week from Sunday I will turn 51.

I spent twenty years working in an industry where youth predominated. All the advertising showed pictures of young bicyclists, some heavily tattooed and/or pierced, most ridin fixies or singlespeeds, all exhibiting the vigor and rebelliousness of being twentysomething with disposable income.
Almost none of the advertising wholesalers and manufacturers would send to our shop showed anyone with grey hair or wrinkles.

Velo Cult, still my favorite bike shop in Portland, featured its second season of gold sprints last night. Two racers on fixed gear bikes strapped to stationary stands and hooked up to computers to measure "laps" ridden within a time limit. Gold Sprints are hilarious and fun. And they're mostly populated by bike enthusiasts well under 40.
could've gone, but instead went home after work.
In looking over the pickings at the shift calendar, I note that most of the offerings of rides and bike social events are orchestrated by -- once again -- people decidedly under age forty.

I realized this morning that I am over it.
I am over the youthful bent that the public face of bicycling espouses. I am over the youthful emphases on speed, style and affluence that are all fairly shouted from the rooftops in this hipster image of bicycling as the new Urban Chic.

Urban Chic doesn't seem to include riders my age -- riders with grey hair and wrinkles and varicose veins, riders who are entering menopause and whose joints are so creaky they pop audibly on the coldest days, riders who love to ride but are doing it on the Schwinns and Raleighs they've had since college and which still work fine, thank you.

I think I will have to be among those who help to grow a new bicycling culture, one that is far more welcoming to, and indicative of, the greying of our society. No Gold Sprints for this gal; when the weather warms up you'll find me puttering along happily on the Springwater Corridor, looking for Nutria among the banks of Johnson Creek and Meadowlarks out in Gresham, all at an average speed of about ten miles an hour and on a old mountain bike that works just fine, thank you.
And maybe I'll resurct Slug Velo and turn it into a 50-and-over club. We'll see.

Happy riding.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

CDs and my Big Dummy.

This is a cross-post from my music site:

I picked up 500 copies of my CD yesterday using my salvaged trailer. It worked beautifully.
For more about that, including pix, check out the other article.

In other news, I am still trying to sell my Surly Big Dummy. I have had three serious inquiries, only to learn that each of them planned to lowball me with an offer that was several HUNDRED dollars below my asking price. I don't think my asking price is extreme -- in fact, it's a freaking DEAL -- and so I will sit on it a little longer and hope someone will want to pay closer to a realistic price when the weather warms up a bit. Sorry, I cannot ship; it would cost a few hundred dollars more to do so, and then the price wouldn't be such a deal anymore. So pickup in Portland, OR only. Tell your friends. Thanks.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

some days, well, you just HAVE to clean your drivetrain

After a week off the bike, I was pretty ready to ride again yesterday.

I'd been laid low by what my doctor now tells me was "probably" the flu -- fever, chills, dizziness, the works a week ago Sunday. I laid around the house feeling just terrible for two days, began to feel a little better last Tuesday and slowly improved from there. My voice isn't all the way back and, of course, the cough is always the last thing to fade away with these things.

Yesterday I pulled down the All-Rounder, put it in the stand and threw a healthy dose of drivetrain love at it, using a small screwdriver, rags, my old Bibox chain cleaner and some Big Orange solvent to remove the worst of the gunk that had collected on the chain, cogs, chainrings and derailleurs since something like October -- yeah, I've been pretty neglectful.

Bibox chain cleaners are no longer being made, but can still be found on ebay and elsewhere:


They're pretty simple to use: set the bike in the repair stand so the bottom run of the chain is level with the floor (best to do this outside in a place where runoff won't harm the ground water or soil, and put rags down underneath to catch the drip). Open the lid of the box, carefully pour in enough of your favorite solvent to the fill line (or to just below the edge of the lower half of the box), position the box with the chain inside it and snap the lid on (holding it level the whole while), and carefully hold the box in place while running the cranks backwards so the chain moves through the box. Solvent will be brushed over the chain top and bottom. Rotate the cranks and run the chain through for a couple of minutes -- not too quickly or you'll splash solvent all over the place.When the solvent runs dark gray or black, stop and remove the box and pour off the used solvent. (Note: you can do what I do and pour it off into a shallow widemouth jar, save up a bunch of used solvent and let the crud settle to the bottom, then pour the liquid off the top slowly into another container for re-use. Let the crud at the bottom dry and then scrape it into the trash or, if your community offers it, a container for curbside oil recycling.)

You can repeat these steps until the liquid runs light gray, or you can stop with one or two uses of solvent. Pour off the used solvent as indicated above, then fill the Bibox with hot water and replace it on the chain and run it through backwards. I do this step a few times until the water runs light gray to cloudy. Let the chain dry (or wipe dry if you're in a hurry) and then apply light coating of fresh oil.

While I was at it, I also sanded off my brake pads and readjusted the brake cable tension, wiped down my rims and topped off the tires, and checked the sidewalls as I went around for signs of wear. 

I rode around town yesterday evening, running errands and going to the home of a new Hebrew student, and as I rode I noticed the different right away; a clean bike rolls better.

When I came home, I hung the All-Rounder on the front hook and swapped out the Sekai; its turn at a drivetrain cleaning and general primping will come tomorrow morning. I may also, if I feel especially ambitious and have the time, tear down the headset and overhaul it. Sometimes you just have to clean and tune your bikes.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

giving myself permission to leave the studly days behind

I've been forcing myself to ride, even a little bit, almost every dy during my winter break from teaching. Tere are. lots of reasons for this, and only a few of them have anything to do with bocycles. The upshot is that, for the past several days I have been more reluctant to go outside, but went anyway. Stupid, stupid.

Saturday night I came home from a trailer run for birdsed and sundries, and felt admittedly bad -- tired, with a scratchy throat. I woke up this morning (Sunday) with full-blown FLU: chills, fever, achy muscles, coughing, the works. I stayed home from teaching and spent the day tossing and turning while my fever spiked, went down and spiked again. now, near the end of the dy, my sleep cycle is completely off, I veer between fever and clamminess, and feel like crap. When I can, I try to eat some chicken soup or dink hot tea. Otherwise, I'm in bed ffeeling awful and waiting for this thing to pass. I hope it will pass soon, because I have a pretty important gig Friday evening and need to be able to sing for it.

Why did I stubbornly insist on riding as far into the winter as I did this year? A young friend who I got into bicycle commuting had given up a couple of weeks ago during the cold snap and had resorted to taking the bus everywhere again. Well, his parents help him with bus tickets and such. I have no such help at my age and TriMet bus tickets have, at $2.50 per fare, become the rip-pff of the century. So I have grumbled, pulled out my bicycle, and stubbornly pedaled away from the house each day, even on dys I haven't felt like it. I didn't listen to my body, and this is where it got me.

It is time to reevaluate my relationship with cold-weather bicycling. being a stud was fun when I had a reason to be -- when I raced. But it's highly unlikely that Ill be racing anymore, especially in cold weather; so there's really no point in forcing myself to ride on the worst days if my body suggests otherwise. So I'll be listening to my body more, and if my winter mileage falls as a result, then that's a small price to pay for maintaining my health. I'm not 25 anymore.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

2013 mileage: one for a smaller book

I took my final ride of 2013 last Tuesday, in spite of ongoing struggles with cold weather, creaky knees and mood swings. 2013 was a hard year for me on the bicycle. Between a radical career change with several missteps and an ongoing worry about the state of my future employment, my non-racing, and more travel which helped to lower my riding time, I didn't make two thousand miles for the first time in many years.
Total, 2013: 1,907 miles.
Total since I began recording my miles back in 2005: 20,509 miles. That looks like a lot if you don't ride much. Among my bicycle enthusiast pals it's fairly low -- most of them commute more and farther than I do these days and some race or ride in Randonneur events.
Still, it seems worth it to keep tacking my miles, though at this moment I can't articulate the reasons why. Mostly it's about keeping track while I think about reformulating my bicycling goals, which aren't as clear as they used to be.

In any event, it's been a tough year for me. I think it would have been even harder if I had not ridden my bicycle. That right there seems a good place to begin thinking about my bicycling goals for 2014, though at this point I haven't yet decided upon anything really specific other than to find ways to do a little more off-road riding. The winter has really taken a toll on my enthusiasm for bicycling in the last month; my energy levels, my creaky joints and the persistently cole temps have all reduced my desire to be outside for more than a half hour at a time. So I ride shorter distances and times in the hopes that at some point -- likely when things begin to warm up a little bit -- I'll rediscover my love of going longer. Mostly I try to be gentle with myself -- though that has been one of the hardest things to do in light. of all the radical changes and trials of the past year. I take more hot baths in the winter, sometimes two or three a week if my body and psyche need them. I sleep in on my days off, sometimes not rising until after 7:30 (that will change tomorrow when I go back to teaching after winter break). And let's not discuss my dietary choices, which have seen me gain back the last five pounds from the ten I lost three years ago when I worked out all winter as part of my prep for racing. My clothes still fit, and my legs still turn the cranks with fluid ease. But I feel slower.

Still, I keep riding, even if it's for shorter times and distances. I might yet make it outside today for a short errand with the trailer. The sun is trying to come out from behind the cloud cover and it might warm up to something like 45F. And the trailer is working out beautifully since I made the modifications. We'll see how motivated I can make myself before the afternoon gets away from me.

If you head out this weekend, happy riding wherever you go!