Wednesday, January 30, 2019

back for more. still stubborn. but knowing i'm right.

Today, I continued with the donor bike. It's a pretty decent mountain bike, except for the part about the shifters not working and the brake-shifter combo levers needing to be replaced.

This meant going through the big plastic tub that I keep various spare parts in and finding a brake lever that would be V-brake compatible; finding friction shifters that would fit on either the stem or the bar (because I convert ALL my donor bikes to friction if the index shifters are broken); taking everything apart and reinstalling it to accommodate the replacement shifters and brake levers.
My energy level began to falter after two hours -- one of the side effects of auto-immune disease -- so I stopped, and will return to the bike tomorrow.

So here's the thing.

This bike will take a good three to five hours total to tune up and get rolling again (including parts replacement). The bike's age and the level of componentry combined with the time make this bike a huge time-suck for a shop. If I were the owner and took this to my local IBD I'd either be turned away ("sorry, the cost of repairs exceeds the value of the bike and you should just buy a new one"), or charged up the wazoo for the job (which would include some serious upselling to all-new components and the labor to install them).

This is how bikes come to me. Or end up at the curb and possibly en route to the landfill. Yes, even in this day of reuse-repair-recycle, old bikes are still showing up in landfills. Old bikes that actually don't require a complete rebuild to function again. And these are precisely the bikes that the bike industry would rather not know about.

The bike industry is currently having a tough time. They've spent so many years trying to upsell everyone on racer wannabe trickle-down that now they're sitting on piles of carbon fiber and lycra they can't move. At the same time, lots of folks are moving away from the racer-wannabe vibe and are riding in everyday clothes and shoes again, just like when we were all kids. And e-bikes are slowly taking over the market as more Baby Boomers discover that climbing hills without some help is just too hard now. (I have thought about riding an e-bike exactly a dozen times now. I'm nowhere near ready to go there. Check back with me in a few years.)

So hopefully, the racer vibe will stop being such a heavy influence on recreational and even commuting bikes.

Hey, a gal can dream.

For now, I'm happy to take that old department store bike off your hands. I can make it roll again, and I can make it safe, and someone will ride it to get to work or school.
So if I'm stubborn about trying to bring old parts back to life, well, that's why.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019


Today, taking advantage of the sunshine, I spent a couple of hours puttering in the Bicycle Brain Trust. I made some progress on a donated bike that will eventuall be handed off to the Refugee Resettlement program.
Then, I decided to swap in some decent, but lackluster tires that required slightly larger tubes.
Rooting around in the bag that holds my inner tubes, I finally found one that read, "PATCHED" and assumed it was good to go.
Half an hour and eight patches later, it's still leaking.
I' not sure why I gave this thing so much time and energy, but it was nice to stand and let the sun warm my back while I waited for the gue to dry each time.
In the end, I'll probably turn this into a tie-down strap. And I'll have to go buy a couple of tubes.

Monday, January 14, 2019

sometimes all you need is a different riding position

The other day, I decided it was time to change the handlebar on my Bridgestone. I liked the look of the Surly Open Bar but it was simply not comfortable for me; it was too wide and lacked rise.
I had gone to Bike Farm onFriday, and picked up a Wald cruiser bar out of the free box. I knew it would put my wrists in a better position, and it had tons of rise (too much?).

So I swapped it in.

The result? It's a little dorky-looking, but it was so comfortable when I rode it a couple days ago that KNEW it was a better bar for me. If anything I might lower it just a little bit, but otherwise I think this is THE bar.

Meanwhile, I'll have a Surly Open Bar for sale if anyone wants it.

Image may contain: bicycle

Image may contain: bicycle

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Thinning the herd, Part One: Dahon Mariner UPDATE: SOLD

I am thinning the herd, which has grown quickly and unpredictably large over the ten months.
I am short on space and cannot store all these bikes, so I will be offering them up one at a time.


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Saturday, January 5, 2019

when a ride is therapy

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After struggling for months with whether to remain a member of my synagogue community, I've given myself permission to step back from any involvement with the shul for an open-ended time. I haven't formally resigned, but I want to take some time away and think about what I will do next.

So on this Shabbat morning, I found myself with no congregation to worship with.

I could have gone somewhere else, but would have felt strange, and among strangers.
So instead I hopped on my bicycle and took a ride.

I took the MAX to the Rose Quarter.

Just after getting of the train, I stood on the platform and watched as a gaggle of Canadian geese walked along the sidewalk across the tracks from me. Their funny gaits made me giggle out loud.

I was riding the Bridgestone today. I hadn't ridden it in many weeks, and had been thinking of selling it. But today I rode it and I liked it again. I think the only thing that's really crying out for a change is the handlebar, which right now is too wide and too far away. (I'd like to try a Wald Touring bar and see if that doesn't help a little.)

I enjoyed the ride down the ramps onto the Eastbank Esplanade. Although I had slept very poorly -- I do most nights anymore -- I still found the energy to pedal harder to get up the incline to the top of the Esplanade viewpoint. The sun was trying to come out through what was left of the clouds.
I caught my breath, enjoyed the view, and pedaled on until I arrived at Rivelo.

I wanted to stop in and wish John a happy new year. But in the end, it turned into a discussion about the challenges of organized religion in the modern world. John is a smart, thoughtful fellow and I appreciated both his interest and his perspective.
He was pouring tiny shots of whiskey for visitors, and poured a tiny little bit into my coffee thermos. Although I don't care for whisky straight, it's a very nice addition to a hot cup of coffee.

Afterwards, I headed into downtown, grabbed a light lunch (paying for it with a pocket full of small change, which annoyed the cashier but I didn't care; coin of the realm is still coin of the realm) and eventually made my way home.

While I reached no conclusions about my ongoing situation with my synagogue community -- and I think that whole mess will take awhile to sort out -- I did feel better for having ridden today. One of the nicest parts was that it started to sprinkle ever so slightly about half a mile from home, but didn't become actual rainfall until the bike was safely locked up and I was heading into the house. Great timing.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

let's talk about community for a moment

What does the word "community" mean to you?

Think for a moment or three before you try to answer that for yourself.

Recognizing that too often, those of us in deep emotional and spiritual need confuse "community" with "family" (though we may already experience membership in each), I want to make sure we're talking about "community" first.

We all come from families. That's part of the deal when you're born. How long that family functions as such, poorly or well, is another question; but we all start with a family.

When we move out into the larger world, we can become part of a community. It isn't always the community that's best for us. It isn't always -- or, these days, usually -- the community we remain engaged with in the long term. And in some cases, we may not even be aware of the idea of belonging to a "community" until we're well into adulthood. (That was my case, owing largely to a peripatetic childhood and parents who were artistic, singular people who weren't really equipped to "belong" to community themselves.)

I am on the verge of admitting that a community I've been a member of for over a decade is simply not a good fit for me anymore, and probably hasn't been for a long time.
And so I am really sitting with my feelings right now. I am feeling sad and tired and weary, knowing that The College Try I've spent the last decade-plus making, trying to improve the culture of my community, has resulted in abject failure.
The community's leaders don't want to change the culture.
The community would rather save the world than admit to the classism in its midst.
The community sees me far less as a soul in need of comfort and reassurance, as a human being in need of assistance, and more as a resource to be tapped.

When your absence is only commented on when you return, and almost immediately upon your return you're asked what you can DO for the community, rather than why you were away and/or if you want to talk or need some help.
When you are not seen as a human being with a soul, but a source of cheap or free labor, then synagogue life becomes irrelevant pretty quickly.
When your community is so hung up on saving the world's poor because it's easier and less painful than acknowledging the poor and hurting in their midst, you eventually realize that it's time to find new ways of nurturing your soul and healing your wounded heart, somewhere else, and maybe some WAY else.

And that is why I am on the verge of ending my formal relationship with this particular community.

It will leave something of a vacuum, a hole, inside me. And I will need to find a way to fill that hole.
I am working on that, and am not yet ready to talk about it. But trust me when I say that at some point I will find or create something else that feels more honest and healthier and more caring and nurturing than what I am leaving behind.
When I am ready to talk about it, I expect I'll piss some people off.
I do not care.
I only care at this point about dealing with my broken heart and figuring out how I will sit with the hurt and begin to heal it a little.
I recognize tonight that this situation with this particular community is one of the pieces of my life that feeds and has been fed by my depression. So it's time to move on.

May your forays into community be enlightening and nurturing.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

happy new year

Happy New Year.
It was 36F today in PDX and nearly perfect for my first ride of 2019.
Although it was pretty darned cold -- especially for my creaky knees -- I'm glad I went out today.
Along the way I enjoyed bright winter sunshine, found a nice wool cap that should clean up nicely, and had my first off-season coffeeneuring stop.
I was so tired when I came home from my little loop (total less than five miles) that I had to take a nap.
This appears to be the new normal for me, and I am still learning how to get along with it.
For every day I'm able to get myself out on a bike, there are four or five I just can't do it. This is from the combination of depression, aging, fatigue and joint pain from auto-immune disease all partying in my body. And I'm trying not to be too hard on myself on the days when I can't get myself to swing a leg over the top tube. I am learning how to be myself in this evolving body one day at a time.
I hope the lengthening, warming days will help.
Looking ahead to the Errandonnee later this winter, and #30daysofbiking in April.
And reminding myself that nowadays it's about quality over quantity.
Rubber side down, and may all your miles be caffeinated.


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