Saturday, March 30, 2019

April 1st is Monday: Are you eady for #30daysofbiking yet?

Thirty Days Of Biking begins on Monday, April 1st.

Are you ready? Is your bike ready?
Is your chain lubed? Tires pumped up and holding air?
Do the brakes work?

Spring is here and it's time to take the pledge.

Sign up NOW to ride your bike every day during the month of April.
Do it for fitness, for socializing, for fun.
Any distance, any destination.
Even a trip to the end of the street and back counts.
Make sure some of your rides are shared with friends and family.
(In one of the nicest surprises of the season, my sister has signed up and will take her first ride on her new bike with me!)

And if you want to make a difference for others, consider signing up to raise money for World Bicycle Relief, which educates and empowers youth in developing countries by bringing them bicycles, tools and repair skills.
Several bicycle industry companies are offering matching funds for every dollar that riders raise.

Make your own spoke card and tell folks who see it about #30daysofbiking. Invite them on a ride.
The number one reason most of us ride bicycles is because it;s a fun way to get from place to place.
Go somewhere cool? Share your bike rides at the Joyful Riders Worldwide group on Facebook. (You can also use the group to organize rides with folks near you.)

There's still time to sign up.
See you on the streets!


Monday, March 18, 2019

Sunday Parkways returns to Portland for its 12th summer

Sunday Parkways returns to Portland's neighborhoods for a 12th summer of walking, skating and biking fun. I will return for MY 12th season as a Mobile Mechanic (see photo, above, from my second year as a Parkways volunteer. I'm honored that it's used as the header for the Mobile Mechanic section at the Parkways web site.).

Sunday Parkways dates and route information.

Sunday Parkways thrives each year thanks to a vast network of VOLUNTEERS like me -- and perhaps like you too!
All volunteers receive a free t-shirt and endless water and snacks. A shift lasts 3.5 hours, and you are welcome to sign up for more than one.
There are a ZILLION tasks that need doing to ensure that Parkways is safe and fun for everyone, and there is probably something on the list that you can handle especially well. (If you're a sit-around-and-chill kind of person, PERFECT! Be an Intersection Superhero. You basically guard an intersection, hep the flow of traffic remain smooth, and help the occasional lost person find their way again. You provide your own lawn chair, cooler, hat and sunscreen. Bring a friend and share the mellow vibe.)

The first Sunday Parkways covers a 7-mile loop in Southeast Portland, Sunday May 19. Tell your friends!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

The un-curated ride

Today, I went for a bike ride and did NOT take along a cell phone or camera.

It was a gorgeous, sunny day without a cloud in the sky. The high was somewhere in the mid-60sF. I pedaled my Bridgestone to the MAX station, and hopped a ride to South Waterfront with the intention of visiting John at Rivelo.

I stopped at the Starbucks in South Waterfront, discovered I had way more on my card than I'd thought and treated myself to a cold beverage, which I enjoyed sipping as I rode across Tilikum Crossing. The view from the bridge was spectacular on both sides, including glimpses of snow-capped peaks in the Cascades and a brilliant snow-white Mount Hood.

When I crossed the bridge and got to Rivelo I found it was closed (I must have missed that memo, since they're usually open on weekends). So I shrugged, and turned onto SE Water Avenue for the ride back. I figured I'd hop the MAX up to Lloyd Center, or grab the #6 bus all the way up to Woodlawn neighborhood.

Along the way, I felt the combination of creaky knees and fluid pedaling motion. I'm much slower than I used to be, and pedal in a lower (easier) gear these days; but it was all pretty darned lovely.
Since I wasn't stopping for photos, I simply enjoyed the motion of riding, the feel of the breeze on my face, the purr of rubber tires on pavement.

After stopping in at Next Adventure, where I scored a few used items on my in-store credit (that I'll flip online later); and tossed my bike on the bus to get back to Woodlawn.

By the time I got home, I felt like I'd had a nice ride, expending enough energy to feel done but not completely wrung out. I am learning to push myself a little when I think I can ride, but also to accept that my rides these days are going to be shorter and slower, and to be glad I can still ride. Especially on a glorious Spring afternoon.

Happy riding!

Saturday, March 16, 2019

tool time: make your own patches and save some money

(Below: My Sunday Parkways tool kit.)
Tool Time returns with a little tutorial on high-zoot cheapskating: make your own patches!

The average price for a regular (non-instant or glueless) patch kit is between $4 and $5 at your local bike shop. The price for a replacement patch is between $0.25 and $0.50. A replacement tube of patch cement (which is, basically, a sticker form of rubber cement) is around $3.

I now make my own patch kits, and the only thing I still need to buy from the bike shop is a can of patch glue.

The container is usually an old Altoids or Sucrets tin. They're sturdy and hold a lot of patches and glue, ideal if you're on an extended tour or you just like a Girl Scout level of preparedness.

Any strip of emery cloth will do; you can but a whole roll at a hardware store, or just beg a few inches from your local metal shop or auto garage.

As for patches? Make them yourself, from old inner tubes that have seen the end of the road (for me, that's a tube with twelve or more patches on it. Your Mileage May Vary).

Here's how I do it:

1. Cut up a dead inner tube into 1" x 12" strips.

2. Clean the INSIDE of powder and residue, then gently rough up with sandpaper. (Blow away the rubber "crumbs" afterwards.) The INSIDE of the tube will have no "seams" from the mold on it, making for better adhesion after the patch is buffed up and glue applied.

3. Cut into 1" squares. (buff the inside of the longer pieces before you cut them down this small.)

4. Spread out a clean sheet of tin foil on a smooth, flat surface.

5. Working in a well-ventilated place, apply a very thin coating of rubber cement to each square on the roughed up side. After applying glue, one at a time, lay the squares glue-side down on a flat sheet of tinfoil about 1/2" apart.

6. When the sheet is filled with squares, cover it with wax paper and weight it down with a couple of books to keep flat. Let dry for a couple days in the well-ventilated place. 
7. When dry, remove the wax paper, cut tinfoil into larger squares around each patch (I like to leave 1/4" of tinfoil around the edges of the patch for easier handling), and your patches are ready to use (or store in a cool, dry place). Use as refills for an existing patch kit and follow instructions as you would for a commercially made patch.

(Below: My patch kit with both homemade and factory-made patches, a strip of emery cloth I schnorred (Yiddish, begged) from an auto garage, and replacement tube of glue.)

(NOTE: I've found that I need to apply pressure for longer than the thirty seconds suggested by most patch kit instructions with my homemade patches, sometimes up to a minute. I'm not sure why but it seems to hold better when I do this.

Another thing: Homemade patches are best in a standard 1" size or smaller. If you try to make a large patch it may not hold evenly all around. For really big holes, use a factory-made oblong patch.

I patched this tube yesterday -- someone had forced a 26" tube into a 700c tire and I was swapping it out to patch and keep. When the patch was applied and dried, I deflated it, rolled it up, wrote the size and valve on the tube and stored it.
If you haven't yet signed up for #30daysofbiking -- consider doing it! All you have to do is pledge to ride your bike every day in April -- anywhere, any distance -- and take mental note of anything cool from each ride (even if it's just a cool cloud formation).

If you want to make it more formal, check out Thirty Days Of Biking HERE. You can sign up to make a frmal pledge, help raise money to World Bicycle Relief, and find other riders in your area.
And check out Joyful Riders Worldwide on Facebook, where folks from literally ALL OVER the world report on their joyful bike ride moments, in April and all year round. Occasionally, folks in the same region might meet up and ride together.

Happy riding! Rubber side down, kids!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Off-season coffeeneuring: Spring, finally. I hope.

Two rides on the same day.
Guess I'm trying to make up for a bike-lite winter.

Sunday was Salvage day at the CCC, and I'd been looking for a 3-speed bike. (I've joined the Society of Three Speeds, a sister organization of the Urban Adventure League; and membership requires a three-speed bike.)
I found one in need of a fair amount of love, and took it home for a song.
I removed the front wheel, lashed it to my saddlebag, then lashed the entire rest of the bike to the top of my front cargo rack.

It was VERY wobbly going, with all that weight up front, and I bruised my knee on the way home, but I made it.

Then I discovered that I'd taken home a three-speed COASTER brake bike. 
Ugh. I HATE working on 3-speed coaster hubs. I'd done it only a few times at the shop and it was never easy.


Not my first choice for a three-speed, but if all I have to do is oil the hub and it shifts, I'll make it work until I can swap in a wheel with standard AW hub later. Assuming that everything fixes up easily, I should have it on the road before Pesach.

After depositing the bike and relaxing a little while, I decided to go out again and get some coffee.
I enjoyed a lovely ride around the neighborhood on a very sunny day.

At New Seasons Arbor Lodge.
Self-serve coffee is still available during the remodel. And they keep it hot, fresh and refilled often.
Porch envy.

It was a good day to sit outside and enjoy having a porch this big and nice.

(I've thought of what it would take to crate a raised porch in front of our house, but we'd have to do it ourselves without a permit and that's hard to get away with when you have nosy neighbors.)

Above: the corner store on Killingsworth and NE15th has been closed for several years now, and no one has stepped up to redevelop the lot. Redeveloping would involve tearing down this building and putting up -- yup -- more expensive housing in the form of townhomes and condominiums.

On the way home, I noticed with delight that the crocuses were blooming everywhere, and daffodils were just beginning to poke their sleepy heads out. I grinned. Spring. Finally. I hope.

More sunny, warm days are headed our way this week. Enjoy them!

Friday, March 8, 2019

Peeking In The Back Door: first in a new occasional series

Welcome to a new commentary thread here at BikeLoveJones.

I call it Peeking In The Back Door: A look at how the bike industry has evolved since I left.

Today's Peek: Condensation is not just weather-related.

Tripping through the pages of BRAIN (Bicycle Retailer And Industry News), We find these recent headlines:

1. Emerald Cancels 2019 Interbike Show. Yes, that's right. Interbike, the industry's trade show that I've written about here at BikeLoveJones, will not happen in 2019. Apparently, moving the show from Las Vegas to Reno (Finally!) wasn't enough to save it. And from the details in the article, it seems at least some folks won't actually miss it all that much. (I certainly wouldn't.) You can thank the Big Three -- Trek, Specialized and Giant -- for going rogue and creating their own big shows for retailers and distributors over the last four or five years, and basically doing Interbike better than Interbike ever could.

2. Head Sport agrees to to buy most ASE Assets for $22M. Remember Performance Bicycle? Yeah. Well, they went belly-up late last year and whatever is left of them is now owned by Head, the people who brought you tennis rackets and those cute little white skirts back in the 80's. Will Performance be missed? reviews are mixed at this point; I predict that by this time next year no one will care except, sadly, the ex-Performance employees who still haven't found another job in the bike industry. Sorry, guys, but a national chain of cookie-cutter bike shops that cared only about racer wannabes with a stack of cash wasn't going to have a super-long shelf life, especially after some of its Nashbar holdings began showing up in the back-wall discount bins.

3. Thule acquires rooftop tent maker Tepui Outdoors. This one matters only because Thule makes car racks that carry all manner of outdoor gear -- including bicycles. For those of us who live car-lite or car-free, this is a big whatever. But perhaps now we'll see intergrated Car-Bike-Camper-Thingys that are fully integrated for your convenience.

Oh, wait. That already exists. For homeless guys with tools, time and ingenuity.
The top photo dates from 2003. So this has been a thing for awhile.

Of course, these guys both got run out of town for looking homeless while their Car-Bike-Camper-Thingys were seen on streets lined with houses that were being lived in by, well, homed people.
But I digress.

4. Investment firm buys Clean Bottle. Some of you may or not remember this product. Back in 2009,not long after I'd become the inventory manager for Citybikes, a nice guy came in with an unbranded sample of one of these bottles, asking if we'd like to get on board as one of the very first retailers to carry the product. He offered to leave a sample with me for testing. I brought it to the inventory committee, ad they basically picked it apart: the rubber seals were weak and the bottle began to leak after only two days, it smelled bad and other than the gimmick they looked no different -- or better -- than any other overpriced, high-zoot plastic bike bottle already on the market. We passed on it with no regrets. Instead, we started looking at Klean Kanteen, a stainless steel water bottle that didn't smell funny or make water taste bad. It was by far the better choice.

5. Wheels Manufacturing sold to the Flagg family.  Anyone remember these babies?

Image result for Interbike sucks images

In a brilliant example of biting the hand that feeds you, the nice folks at Wheels printed up these stickers and handed them out at Interbike back in 2010, my second and final year attending the show. A guy at their booth, obviously not the owner, even hinted to me that they might start backing out on some of their agreements with big distros like QBP and Hawley.
Of course I grabbed a couple, and one graces the inside lid of my toolbox today.

Wheels was, and remains, a lifeline of small parts that nearly every bike shop has depended upon for nearly thirty years. They raised a huge noise when Interbike signed a ten-year extension of their contract with the Sands Convention Center, dooming Interbike to Sin City for another decade; and lots of "little guy" operations and retailers agreed. The guy who founded QBP recently stepped down to head up an online commerce development company, which he swears will remain separate from QBP distributors.
Meanwhile, he just bought Wheels Manufacturing. It was by all accounts an amicable acquisition; though the husband-and-wife founders will stay on only through the transition, which may say something as well.

6. The winner in our Condensation Super Bowl is the publication that brought us these and other scintillating stories of the rise and fall of the global bicycle industry. BRAIN was acquired in late January by the parent company of Velo News. What's even more interesting is that BRAIN will no longer be published by the National Bicycle Dealers Association, which has had exclusive publishing rights for over 15 years. Interestingly, BRAIN originally grew out of Velo News as industry mouthpiece. Now that it's rejoining Velo News under the same umbrella, will NBDA have a voice? Will it eventually be subsumed by industry giants, perhaps in some coalition between Trek, Giant, Specialized and QBP?
In a way, BRAIN has been assimilated by the Borg. It's friendly Borg, perhaps, but it's still the Borg, a creation that promotes steady, constant growth through assimilating smaller entities. It's like when the Enterprise crew rescued a little Borg-let, befriended it, named it Hugh, gave it a sense of individuality and then returned it, ostensibly to infect the Borg.
Not sure that's how this story will play out in the end.

But what I have learned from co-owning a small retail business is that steady, unceasing growth is unsustainable and unhealthy. Since I left Citybikes in Fall 2012, the co-op has gone from12 owners to fice, and from two stores selling new and used bikes to one small store that focuses on repairs and parts. How long it can survive in the current climate is anyone's guess.

I am grateful for my years working in the industry, and just as glad that I got out when I did. I am thrilled to be a hobbyist mechanic specializing in bringing old bikes back from the dead and putting them under riders again. I can't imagine a more fun way to keep my skills fresh and my hands busy.
Happy Friday, and happy riding.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Refugee bikes - an update

I began collecting and refurbishing old adult bikes for newly-arrived refugees over three years ago.
In that time, I've salvaged over 100 bikes and/or frames that would have gone to the landfill. Out of those, over thirty had broken frames and had to be stripped; their useful parts went towards repairing some of the remaining sixty and change.
None of this would have been possible without help from so many lovely Portlanders who've passed their bikes along to me.
So right up front, Thank You for your generosity, for the bicycles, locks, lights and other parts you've given to me so I could provide our newest arrivals with sustainable transportation. Many of the recipients have been using those bikes to get to language classes, to go to doctor appointments and the grocery store, and to find and keep work. I have seen only a couple of those bikes in use since I sent them on their way, a reflectio of the reality that affordable housing is getting harder to find and is mostly being procured farther and farther out of the central city area, and so most of the bikes are underneath riders living and working in Gresham, Milwaukie, Salem and even farther away.

Still, those bikes are back on the road and being ridden by people who really need them.
And I couldn't be happier about that.

So today I finished a bike, a nice older mountain bike that took a scavenged/repaired rack and stem shifter upgrade beautifully; and now have another bike in the stand that I'll hope to get to this weekend. And with that, I have room for more donations.

So if you live in or near Portland, and have an adult bicycle that needs a new home, consider passing it onto me for someone who will really need it and appreciate it as they get on their feet and begin new lives here in Portland.

And if you have bicycle locks and lights, I could also use those -- they're the hardest things to find used and I can only spend so much out of pocket on this project.

Find me on Facebook, drop me a Private Message, and let's arrange a handoff soon. I'm around until May and have time to bang out some bikes. Thank you, and happy riding.

And if you'd like to see an album of many of the bikes that have been donated and refurbished, check it out here on Flickr.

Below: The latest, bike number 61.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Do I hear fifty? Who'll gimme fifty?

It has been an incredibly difficult winter for me.

The weather has been cold and wet, and just when I thought things might get better, they got worse. Over the last two weeks, we've had some of the coldest temps this late in the winter. Nearly every night for the past week and a half has been below freezing. Today, it snowed. Again. All day, on and off until dinner time.

Being a freelancer who's currently not touring means I'm home a lot. In warmer weather I can always find a reason to go outside and ride my bike. But it has been ridiculously hard. I had ONE bike ride in the last week and a half. It was a sunny day with some wind. It warmed up enough for me to actually strip ;ayers when I stopped for coffee at Golden Pliers bike shop, but by the time I was ready to leave it was after 3pm and the temps had started to fall again. I got home with a very red nose and eyelids so cold they had begun to almost burn.

That was a few days ago.

Now, I understand that by the end of this week the temps should warm to near 50F. On Sunday I'll try to get out for a bike ride if I can.

But here's the ugly little secret of auto-immune illness: as you age, you naturally find it hard to sustain the kind of efforts you could when you were younger. Add in auto-immune disease and suddenly you are wiped out with every expenditure of energy. Even a modest ride to the store becomes a real slog, and you feel utterly drained when you're done.

I marched a mile with my community band last weekend, on a sunny and cold day (high was something like 43F). The next day, I was pretty useless and actually slept in until almost 10 am.
That's what fatigue can do.

So I'm hanging in there, trying not to feel too bad about not wanting to ride in this weather and hoping that things will break soon. I'm dreaming of those fifty-degree days and looking forward to putting my heaviest wool sweater back in the drawer, and my wool-lined winter coat in the back of the closet, until something like next Thanksgiving.

If I can go out on Sunday, I'll try and hit up the CCC Salvage day -- come find me there! -- and then go home and try and whip together a refugee bike (I've got one in the stand, and room for a few more donations if your old bike needs a home. Find me on FB to leave a message about drop-off).
Until then, stay warm and have a lovely weekend. Rubber side down, kids!

(Below -- memories of warmer days)