Monday, September 24, 2018

8th annual Coffeeneuring Challenge begins October 12!

If you follow this blog, you know the drill. Each October since 2010, the fabulous Mary G. has facilitated the annual Coffeeneuring Challenge. The format is simple: 7 rides to a coffee shop of your choice (a different one each time, please), two rides a week, for seven weekends. Document your adventures along the way. Choosing a theme (or a theme-within-a-theme, you multitaskers)
is optional.

I'll be documenting my rides right here at Rancho Beth.

I'm on my own Friday the 12th, but will host the official Portland Coffeeneuring Meetup on Saturday, October 13, 9am at World Cup Coffee & Tea in NW Portland.
Be one of the cool kids by bringing your own reusable mug.

Official Rules can be found HERE.

Happy caffeinating, and happy riding.

Friday, September 21, 2018

First ride: Dahon Mariner folding bike

I've never owned a folding bike before. I saw no need, living a mostly local life with a bike that already did everything I asked of it and easily fit on the front bus rack. Since I travel with musical instruments, taking along a folding bike as well would be impractical at best.

Today, a friend handed off a folding bike she'd gotten from someone else. I pumped up the tires, lubed the chain, adjusted the brakes and took it up and down the block. It didn't feel wobbly at all.
So I decided that when I ran errands later, I'd take the folder out on an extended ride and see if it was something I'd want to keep in my stable.

My friend who knows more about folders than I do (and who sells them in his shop) told me it's a pretty nice bike, and probably retailed for $600-650 when new.

As folding bikes go it's not unattractive.

That said, it's still sort of goofy-looking if you're accustomed to a non-folding, standard bike.

This one came with SKS fenders, rather nice road tires and a rear rack that, while proportioned to a 20" wheeled folding bike, would still be useful for at least some portage.

The adjustment range seems adequate for most adults (though anyone over 6 feet would find it a little on the short side for extended riding).

The plastic pedals are cheap and not terribly durable. They're also not very comfortable; and if I keep this bike I'll swap in something easier on my feet.

The straight handlebar is a non-starter for me. If I keep this bike, I'll definitely swap in something with at least a little more sweep, even if it partially defeats the folding purpose.

The biggest bummer on this bike is the shifting. A cheap derailleur, made by an anonymous factory and stamped with the Dahon logo, sits in an odd position, bypassing the cable housing stop and requiring full-length housing to function. Worse, the cage is too short to allow for  good chain-wrap in the largest cog.

And even worse than that, it's a Rapid Rise derailleur, so when you pull cable the gearing actually gets lower, and when you let cable out the gearing gets higher. I know some people like it, but I've never been a fan. Combined with the entry-level grip-shift it does little to inspire me.

Replacing it will be a bother, another reason to let it be and pass the bike along to another home.
But I'll give it a week or two before I decide.

Friday, September 14, 2018

use it or lose it?

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I left Citybikes six years ago this week.

I still had a part-time job teaching at a local synagogue, which kept me commuting regularly by bike for another two years. When I was let go from that job in spring 2014, I had no regular bike commute anymore. Instead, I became a touring freelance musician, which meant I no longer rode a bicycle daily.

In addition, my body was undergoing the very real and sometimes challenging changes that come with perimenopause: mood swings, hot flashes, increased brain fuzziness and depression.

Finally, the effects of Crohn's disease were increasing in frequency and intensity, leading to greater and more frequent fatigue and a lot more time spent in the bathroom.

Over the last six years, and especially over the last three or so, I've watched my body grow slower, creakier and heavier. I've noted that my moods aren't what they used to be. And this week, I had to admit to myself that I'm just not as excited about bicycles or bicycling as I once was.
I tried turning wrenches a few days a week at a nonprofit in July and August, and in the end my hands hurt so much that I couldn't continue past the end of August. (I'm keeping the door open for next spring in case they have the funds to hire me again and my hands are improved.)

And now that the days are noticeably shorter, I've pulled out the SAD lamp (happily scored this summer at a yard sale for two bucks) and my wife and I take turns using it in the morning. Does it help? Not sure yet. I hope so. Because I do not want a repeat of last winter when everything felt awful.

I am pondering a gym membership -- if I can find an affordable one -- and also looking at other ways to create reasons to get out of the house and ride my bike when I'm in town.

I've also bought myself a new pair of rain pants. I don't enjoy riding in the rain as much as I used to, but if I can remove the equipment barrier perhaps that will help.

Looking over the list of physical and emotional challenges that have laid me lower, can I pull out specific causes for why and how this evolution has happened?
I'm a mechanic, so that's how my brain works: find the cause of the problem, fix it, and get back on the road.

However, it's not that simple in this case. The human body is complicated and messy, and everything is wired together in ways scientists are still trying to understand. The fact is that, between entering my mid-50s, perimenopause, depression and auto-immune disease, some people have told me it's a wonder I still ride at all, or that I still have the energy to travel at all. The fact is that all of these pesky things are wired together and fixing one won't automatically fix the others.
Of course, I've asked myself repeatedly if the decrease in my riding (both time and miles) has also contributed to this current sorry state, and it probably has at least in part. But that's really a chicken-or-egg question. Because it's all of a piece. The vagaries of aging are impossible to catalogue so precisely, and I could waste a lot of time trying to do that here.

I've gained 25 pounds since I last raced a mountain bike seven years ago. I don't like that, either.
So today, another bike ride. And some research on cheap gym memberships in Portland. Because I feel the need to try and change this, even in some small way, if I can.

Below: Scenes from yesterday's ride to Kenton.
Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, sky, bicycle and outdoor

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Happy riding.