Friday, October 30, 2015

coffeeneuring challenge 2015:8 -- Koken Market

I needed a bicycle ride to help me handle a depressive phase today, so I forced myself into clothes and outside this afternoon for a little ride around the neighborhood. With two weeks left to Coffeenuer, I decided to add to my slate of rides by stopping for coffee or whatever else I could find at my local mom-and-pop store, Koken Market (southeast corner of NE Dekum and MLK, Portland).


The store has gone through several incarnations in the last decade; this latest is an example of knowing one's market. The shelves are lined with fifty varieties of mostly cheap wine and the coolers are all filled with cheap beer (except for the one of the far right which has pop and juice).

Seeing that the coffee choice was pretty dim -- non-functional, in fact, as the machine was not even hooked up ("we're going to sell it," the nice lady told me, "because everyone wants beer." Right. Got it) -- I opted for a bottle of Jarrito's (Mexican pop) and a bag of chips to eat at the park. Not coffee, not hot; I know, maybe not a qualifier, but this ride was about riding for its own sake and I'm not concerned if it's on the edge. Plus, riding over to the park and seeing how last night's windstorm blew most of the petals off the roses, settling on a bench and enjoying my snack was enough. Fall has come to the rose garden, and to Portland. That means the multicolor of summer is going away, the deciduous trees are losing their red-gold leaves, and the only color left through the winter will be evergreen.

I took a loop around the back of the park, rode over to Safeway and picked up a few things before Shabbat.

Then I rose slowly home, glad to have gotten outside if only for an hour or so. The big rain is scheduled to come tonight and all day tomorrow, so I'm glad I rode when I did. Total around six miles.
Time to settle in for a quiet Shabbat at home with my sweetie and the World Series.  Happy Friday, Shabbat Shalom, and of course happy riding!
(and #letsgomets)
Autumn sky, NE Dean

(Below: the last leaves from my favorite trees on Dean, fallen)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

coffeeneuring challenge 2015:7 -- parisi cafe, leawood, kansas

I know, I did it on a day when I also I worked. But I only worked a little bit. And I wanted to get in a coffeeneuring ride while I was traveling on tour, so here it is. Count it or not. I certainly do.

The synagogue where I sometimes visit in my work is in Overland Park, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City. I have a very nice arrangement with the senior rabbi here; since I visit periodically, he has allowed me to store a bicycle here so I have something to ride when I come to town. I built up the bike a couple years ago, a refurbished bike that had been abandoned at the synagogue in Portland where I used to work, and shipped out to Kansas last year. It's nothing fancy, just a cheap mountain bike that I "citified" slight with upright bars, friction shifters, fenders and a rack. And a cool Carradice pannier I scored cheap. When I come and teach here during their summer program, I also have the use of a trailer to haul my guitar and music back and forth. The trailer is now on semi-permanent loan since the family's youngest child has outgrown it. When I'm not using it, it lives in a back room at the synagogue. (How cool is that??)

So today, when my meetings were done and I had time before meeting a friend, I took a couple hours and rode from the synagogue over to Park Place, which is technically in the neighboring community of Leawood. Leawood is what happens when you take perfectly good farmland and turn it into a suburb. A suburb with building codes (all the big box stores are tan. Really), gated communities and pop-up islands of urban cool. It's a strange thing to one who is unaccustomed to this kind of development, but apparently it's not uncommon in cities without a UGB (Urban Growth Boundary).

So I rode up the gloriously wide sidewalk (no bike lanes along my route) and went in search of coffee that did not suck.

I found it at Parisi Cafe in Park Place.

 The coffee was hot, fresh and amazingly delicious, so good I probably didn't need to add cream and sugar but since I like my coffee "regular" I went ahead and got it that way. Strong without tasting burnt, A nice rich aftertaste, and best of all it went very well with dessert.
Plus, they gave me a break for bringing my own cup, which helped take a little sting out of the sales tax. (In Oregon we have none. We probably should, but don't get me started.)

Oh my goodness, dessert. A Chocolate cake that was so thick and rich without being overly sweet.
Fantastic mouth feel. So dense I had to eat it very slowly, but so yummy I wanted to eat it all and did so without a shred of guilt.
If you find yourself in Leawood, and you need good coffee, go here.

I returned to work for a meeting that wound up not happening, then rode home to my homestay.

Total distance covered today was probably close to five miles, with the coffee being a good two miles from home. It's probably the only bike ride I'll get in while traveling, since thunderstorms are due in the morning and my friends here don't like it when I ride in their rain. Their rain often comes with lightning.

So "officially" I've got my seven rides in, but will likely just keep adding more until the deadline, just for fun. And coffee.
Happy riding.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

coffeeneuring challenge 2015:6 -- Disaster Relief Trials, Portland

I volunteered this morning at the Disaster Relief Trials, a simulation event/contest that demonstrates how cargo bicycles can become a lifeline for a community in the first days after a natural disaster.

It was an opportunity to enjoy an early-morning ride along N. Willamette Blvd, view some pretty awesome cargo bicycles in action, and sip some coffee I'd brewed up fresh just before leaving the house.
I've included a video and a couple of evidence photos here. The rest can be seen at my Flickr page.

Total distance: Around 9 miles RT.
Photos: Registration and coffee go together.

In addition to signing in riders, I also did some dog-sitting with the delightful Memphis.

Video: LeMans-style start for Family and E-Assist categories.


Friday, October 16, 2015

coffeeneuring challenge 2015:5 -- Saint Cupcake, Tillicum Crossing, Sellwood

I finally had an opportunity to go coffeeneuring with a friend today!

Lynne (of fame) agreed to meet me downtown. She lives on the west side and I live in North Portland, so meeting in the middle at Saint Cupcake (SW 13th and Morrison, downtown Portland, roughly six miles from my house) seemed like a fine idea.
With me underemployed and her retired, I chose to do Friday as one of my two days this week.

After a lovely cup of coffee during which we caught up on things and Lynne knitted a few rows (and then maybe un-knitted them, I'm not sure), we saddled up and made our way down to Waterfront Park, choosing to ride around the back side of Riverplace to get to the Tillicum Crossing bridge.

This was my first time approaching the bridge from the west side of the river. Signage was pretty good and bike signals helped us get through some of the busiest intersections. Riding over the bridge on a weekday was delightful; not a lot of people and a sunny but not-too-warm day gave us plenty of excuses to stop and take photos.

We stopped a few times along the way to take photos and giggle with delight at home lovely the day was. We could see Mt. Hood through the haze.

At the other end of the bridge, we stopped in at Rivelo so Lynne could buy a pair of cotton crocheted gloves. We ended up meeting a fellow from the Rivendell owners listgroup, and it's always nice to stop in and say hi to John, Rivelo's proprietor.

From there, we wondered where we might go. Lynne suggested the Springwater-South bike-ped path, and I readily agreed. The path was nice and smooth, and I enjoyed the soft hum of my tires rolling over it while Lynne and I talked about her trip bicycling along parts of the eastern seaboard. We got to Sellwood Riverfront Park and Lynne suggested we ride up into Sellwood proper for a bite to eat. I recommended Mike's Killer Burgers (SE 17th & Tacoma), where we enjoyed delicious blue-cheese burgers and fries.

(Photo: Lunch, destroyed.)

We parted ways after lunch; it was nearly 2 pm and I'd promised Sweetie I'd be home in time to get ready for whatever we wanted to do for Shabbat. We agreed not to wait so long before the next coffee ride.

I rode home along 17th, since traffic was pretty light and I'd just beat the worst of the pre-rush hour frenzy back to NE Portland. The weather was partly cloudy and not too warm. I was comfortable in my thin wool jersey and sneakers. Riding the Bridgestone is a delight, a good climber and nimble handler when I needed to hop a curb.

I no longer use a cyclometer so when I got home I figured out my mileage with a map. It came to a little over 17 miles ridden. It would have been closer to twenty but my knee was acting up so I shortened my trip home by hopping a bus up the incline along MLK.
A few more photos can be found at my Flickr page.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

for load hauling, a bicycle trailer can't be beat

For awhile, I had a longtail cargo bike. I tried to make it work for me; but when I loaded it up the balance got so wobbly I couldn't feel safe. After three years, I gave up and went back to what I used to have: a Burley two-seater kiddie trailer.
The first trailer I got post-cargo bike was basically nothing more than the metal framework. I bought some used wheels and scavenged a bunch of heavy nylon webbing at construction sites, enough to weave a passable floor and sides. I installed a hitch from a dead trailer and basically cobbled the whole thing together. I used that trailer for almost nine months, until it was stolen from behind the shed where I kept it locked. They cut the lock and took the trailer. I was bummed.
After that trailer got stolen, I looked far and wide for a replacement. I wasn't really up for starting all over again and cobbling together another trailer from various bits. So I spent two months looking everywhere -- eBay, craigslist, want ads, yard sales -- until I found a rather old and weather-worn Burly kiddie trailer. It, too, needed some work and a rain cover, but otherwise it was all there and for a price I could afford.

I added a few things to make it suit my needs, and found a raincover from another make and model trailer online for a few bucks. I had an old snap kit from when I worked in the shop and we sold Burley products; I used it to add some snaps to the rain cover so it would fit the trailer better.

Yesterday, I had to run a few errands with the trailer, including buying two bags of wood pellets and picking up a large stack of cardboard from the neighborhood bike shop. Along the way I scavenged at several "free" piles around the neighborhood and came away with a few nice finds, including some organizers for my bike magazines and a vntage Strawberry Shortcake thermos that I'll flip to some collector.

I picked the cardboard last, and strapped it on top with some bungee cords. The total load came to around 100 lbs, which is the upper end of what Burley officially rated this trailer to carry back in the day. (The pellet bags were 40 lbs each and the cardboard was around 10-15 lbs, the sundries made up the rest.)
(above) The Rivendell, looking decidedly UN-glamorous in front of a trailer. But it's a perfect bike for the purpose.

Riding with a trailer is SO much more stable and steady than a two-wheeled cargo bike. As long as my brakes are in good shape, stopping is not a problem; and I never go so fast with a loaded trailer that speed becomes an issue, anyway. And this particular model folds flat so I can store it indoors, away from thieves and weather.

(Evidence photo. Easy-peasy.)

The other nice thing about a trailer is that it presents such a wide pictures to motorists they they tend to cut a wider berth around it when they pass me.
I'll take the three feet however I can get it.

(Update: After nearly three weeks of wrestling with wild hormonal mood swings, I am physically and mentally exhausted. Still, I'm looking forward to another round of Coffeeneuring with a friend this weekend. Stay tuned.)

Sunday, October 11, 2015

coffeeneuring challenge 2015:4 -- the official cheapskate ride

I decided that I could spare a little change to actually buy coffee on today's ride, as long as I spent as little as possible. Knowing that the foofy shops would charge me in excess of $7.00 for a cup of shade-grown, fair-trade coffee and some artisan pastry, I opted for the cheapskate route.

I went to Plaid Pantry, Store # 22 (N. Killingsworth and Denver, Overlook neighborhood)

 (for non-Oregonians, it's sort of like 7-11 but a little less multi-national corporate.)

The sign in the window does not correlate with the prices. I would avoid the "cappucino" machine and just get coffee. I filled my cup for $1.35 and it was hot and fresh. It wasn't, well, artisinal; but what-the-hell-ever. It was way cheaper than the $3.75 that my local foofy shop would've charged me.

Amazingly, it did not totally suck.

And it went rather well with the generic baked item I also got there (see below).
 From Plaid pantry, I rode around the Overlook neighborhood.

Here I must digress a little. If you're not a fan of TMI (Too Much Information), scroll down a bit.

I have Crohn's disease. It's considered "mild to moderate" which means I can actually leave the house and function most days. I manage it with medication and avoidance of certain foods (every person with Crohn's has a list of foods to avoid, and no two lists are exactly alike.)
While elsewhere in Coffeeneuringland, you will read about folks doing metric centuries and/or other ambitious rides in the beautiful countryside, you won't find much of that here at my blog. The simple fact is that with age and other factors, it has gotten too hard for me to ride distances of much longer than about ten miles on average and twenty miles tops without experiencing some difficulty related to my gut.So I listen to my body and ride within my limits.

(Note: Please DO NOT respond at my blog with suggestions on how to treat my symptoms. I've lived with Crohn's nearly my whole life and have become something of an authority on my body; plus I'm working with a great GI doc who is very helpful. Thanks in advance.)

I did dabble in Randonneuring for a year and a half, and enjoyed five seasons of mountain bike and cyclocross racing before my gut told me it was time to hang it up and just ride my bike for pleasure and transportation. I'm not sad. I can still ride a bike today, just not very far or fast, and I still get a lot of joy from riding.

However, when I need a bathroom I need it yesterday. So my riding around in circles in Overlook was for the sole purpose of finding evidence of the ongoing gentrification that dominates the Portland landscape these days. It took exactly eight minutes of riding from the time I left Plaid Pantry until I found what I needed, six blocks away: a construction site.

Another beautiful factoid: I was blessed from birth with an almost complete absence of olfactory capability. I can't smell much of anything at all, including farts, kitty litter, Camas, WA (mill town with a legendary odor) -- and porta-potties.

Life is good.

From here, I enjoyed a longer ride along Ainsworth Street, tree branches hanging low with brown and red leaves, all the way back to my favorite bench in Peninsula Park, where I stopped to sit, enjoy the last of the summer's roses still in bloom, and read a little Torah in advance of meeting with my study group tomorrow morning.

The late afternoon air felt good on my skin, cool without being chilly; and I enjoyed the sights and sounds of folks walking and biking past. In the distance, a young woman was getting ready for her QuinceaƱera, or coming-of-age party, slipping the enormous dress on over t-shirt and shorts for formal photos, with two friends helping her and all of them laughing happily.

I started to feel a chill after about half an hour, and decided it was time to head home. Along the way, I stopped at a couple of "Free" piles to see if there was anything worth claiming either for my use or for resale; I found a couple of nice vintage thermoses and a busted table knife. The thermoses will eventually get cleaned up and sold; the knife went in the recycling when I got home so some kid wouldn't hurt themselves with it.

All in all, not a bad ride. I probably managed around 7 1/2 miles or so, enjoying a nice loop and beautiful early fall weather.

Being on the lookout for work, I've decided not to worry about the rules quite so much this time around. If I find myself with some free time I'll go for a ride and try to remember to bring a thermos along. If it's not the same two days each week, I won't worry about it. Bicycling also helps my depression and anxiety, two things I've decided I'll no longer hide or be ashamed of. I'm happy to dispel myths and stigma whenever I can. The bicycle is a great way to help with that.Some days it's the only way.

Additional photos at my Flickr page.

Happy riding!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

coffeeneuring challenge 2015:3 - coffee as an aid to prayer

Round three: Still woefully broke, I made coffee at home, popped it into my battered thermal go-cup and set out for shul (synagogue), where I had signed up to help lead services while our Rabbi took a couple weeks off after the High Holy Days and Fall festivals.

Havurah Shalom is a cooperative effort, meaning that congregants take turns helping with everything from collective self-governance (lots of committees!) to stuffing envelopes to leading services and music.

I enjoyed an unusually warm morning ride into town; it has been unseasonably warm and dry so far this fall, with average highs in the 70s. Today, I rode to shul in a short-sleeved bamboo t-shirt and slacks, and felt the humidity that let me know rain might finally come. And it did, during services, when the sky darkened and big drops went plit! plat! against the skylights in the roof. Afterwards, I slipped on some raingear for the ride home.

I hadn't thought of taking the good camera, so my photos had to come from my cheesy phone camera.
Still, a lovely ride in the rain, and today it finally felt more like Portland than it has in awhile.

At shul before services. I was the first one there and had time to sip my coffee in quiet calm. At Havurah we're allowed to bring closed beverage containers into the sanctuary and can sip from them as long as we're discreet. So I enjoyed the last of my Nossa Familia after I finished leading my part of the service, sipping between blessings.
Blessed are You, Eternal One, for the blessing of Coffee.  Oh, yes.

Raingear of choice: Burley rain jacket, Rainlegs and Rivendell Splats. They all work just fine.

NW 6th Avenue, looking south towards W. Burnside Street.

Near home, crossing over I-5 at NE Ainsworth Street. Surpisingly heavy traffic on a Saturday. Sirens told the story: an ambulence and police car were trying to cut through to race to Emmanuel Hospital. It definitely slowed everything up.

Total distance: around 11 miles.
And I beat the heaviest part of the rainstorm home by about half an hour.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

coffeeneuring challenge 2015:2 - Nossa Familia & mah jongg

As promised, perhaps the most unusual coffeeneuring ride yet: I left the house, rode over the Broadway bridge, and stopped at one of my absolute favorite places, Nossa Familia Espresso bar (NW 13th & Johnson in the Pearl District). Being very broke right now, I planned accordingly and hunted up the last Free Coffee token I'd hoarded from my final cyclocross adventure a year ago, and redeemed it for an absolutely divine cup of iced coffee. I then rode further up into the neighborhood and stopped at the real object of my ride: An afternoon session of Mah Jongg with some of the ladies at my shul (synagogue). Since the weather was gorgeous, we elected to play outside in the congregation's sukkah, where I sipped my coffee, failed miserably at making a winning hand, and basked in the glow of kindness from women who were happy stand-ins for my mother (z'l) and smiled at the comforting sound of clacking tiles. More pictures at my Flickr page. I stopped keeping track of actual mileage this past summer, but suspect I rode around ten miles or so. Cheers!

Oh, and hey -- remember the bike I brought home in the trailer a few years back on my coffeeneuring ride? Well, this is what it looks like today. Fun to ride.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

coffeeneuring challenge 2015:1 - Ps & Qs Market

I had originally planned to begin the 2015 Challenge on Sunday but found myself with an errand and therefore an excuse to ride my bike. I left the house, rode directly to the store for what we needed, and then proceeded to take a beautiful, leisurely loop around the neighborhood, out along Ainsworth and around Overlook, looping back to Killingsworth. I cut over all the way back to Rosa Parks along  N. Denver and then back into Woodlawn neighborhood and home.

Stops along the way: Ps & Qs Market, where I got coffee to go; Peninsula Park, where I enjoyed a cool breeze and snalled evidence photos; and Overlook neighborhood where I basked in sunshine and a beautiful autumn-blue sky. I even tried my hand at some video, though I am no expert and don't have a GoPro. It turned out okay for an amateur effort. This was my first time incorporating video and music, and it took me over an hour to figure out how to put together a 38-second video. (I'm sure the more tecnologically-able out there could do it in mere minutes...)

The coffee at Ps and Qs was pretty good and stayed hot in my battered Klean Kanteen thermal cup. It's self-serve at the front counter, from a hot-pot that is refilled pretty regularly.
The only thing with Ps and Qs is that service tends to be slow and inconsistent; I helped myself and left money on the counter, and that seemed appropriate.
If you want to order a sit-down meal, everything is pretty tasty (albeit slightly overpriced, reflecting the rapidity with which my neighborhood has been gentrified). But be prepared to wait awhile for attention and your food.

Music from the title song of my album "Ten Miles". For more info:

I'll be logging ride number two tomorrow.
Happy riding and happy coffeeneuring!