Monday, April 15, 2024

Kickstand swap.

For about ten years I’ve been using a center-mount kickstand on the Rivvy. It wasn’t ideal, but the bike was more stable this way. I didn’t want to use a two-legged center-mount kickstand because of the added weight; I don’t carry stupid-heavy loads anymore and it would’ve been overkill. Plus, they’re expensive.

Then I came into a used rear-mount kickstand that would give me the stability I wanted without further risk to the chain stays near the bottom bracket shell. So I swapped it in.

(Pro tip: determine the contact points on your rear triangle, and give those a few wraps of cloth tape to protect the paint and give the mounting bracket a good place to grip.)

I had to remove the rubber tip from the old kickstand, which required some cutting through super-glue.

The rubber tip adds a few mm of height to set the angle where I’d like it, and protects the metal end from scraping against the sidewalk and wearing down. I didn’t have a spare, so I rescued the old one. They’re meant to fit the Pletscher or Greenfield kickstands, and you can buy them at any bike shop for about $3.

After removing the rubber tip, I installed it on the replacement kickstand. Because of the cut I’d had to make to get it off, I applied super glue and then wrapped a zip tie around it to hold it in place while the glue dries. Eventually, I ,Amy fill in the split with either more super glue, or some plastic resin. But right now it seems to hold together fine on its own. I’ll probably leave the zip tie alone.






Saturday, April 13, 2024

Back in the saddle: the 7th First Annual Ladd’s 500

I’ve been riding almost every day for the last week and a half. It’s felt good. Uphills are still hard, but now they’re actually doable. I still have my dizzy moments but my legs feel stronger and I’m hopeful more riding will calm my head and lower my blood pressure.

Today I rode to Coffee Outside at Colonel Summers Park, then a short distance farther to hang out at the 7th edition of the Ladd’s 500.

For the uninitiated: the Ladd’s 500 is a bicycle relay event in which teams complete as many laps as possible around Ladd’s Circle in southeast Portland. The serious goal is to complete 500 combined laps (as a team), because 500 laps around Ladd’s equals roughly 100 miles — a century.

Team members tag in and out when they’ve ridden a number of laps, and the serious rules require that there be at least ten tags in and out for each team. 

But those are the serious rules. 

For the rest of us, we just show up and ride some laps and hang out with friends and enjoy the day.

A good time was had.







 

Today’s event saw easily over 500 riders, plus at least another 500 sitting around and watching. Ladd’s Circle is a small place in the heart of the Ladd’s Addition neighborhood, a Tony place with large, historic homes and a rose garden, and simply won’t be big enough to handle this event in the future unless some changes are made.
Those changes would change the nature of this event, which has grown more popular every year. But without them, the event would likely have to come to an end at its current location. And to be honest, the freewheeling nature of this event is part of its charm. 

We’ve seen this happen before, with Portland’s cyclocross scene. In the 1990s, it was small and wild, with inconsistent application of “rules” and unsanctioned “pirate” races, but the sport and the crowds grew. With growth, cyclocross came under the notice, and eventually under the thumb, of organized cycling organizations like OBRA and the. USA Cycling. Once those organizations and their sponsors started throwing a lot of money — and more rules — at the sport, those at the lower, more party-like end of the activity eventually faded away to a smaller minority. 
This happens a lot in bicycling. Something really cool is created and enjoyed on a grassroots level, held together with shoestring and volunteers, and then it’s gets bigger and more costly to organize on a shoestring. This year, there were talks of the Ladd’s organizers applying for grant monetizes to help cover some of the event’s costs — including much higher prices for portable-potties, city permits and insurance.
I fear that the event may have grown too big for the powers that be to ignore, and I fear that the 2025 edition may come with fees, a limit of the number of riders (read: you can only ride as part of a pre-registered team and those teams may need to pay an entry fee and, and, and), and even a limit on the number of spectators allowed in the Circle at any one time.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed participating in the Ladd’s 500 for four of the seven editions. I suspect that if any such can are made to hat reduce the grassroots, freewheeling nature of the event, I’ll likely skip it next time. And that’s okay. Things come and go, my tolerance for large crowds has lessened over the years, and I feel more comfortable at events where the vibe is more relaxed and the attendance lower. It’s been fun.

Most of all, I am so happy to be able to ride daily again. I’m slower, for sure, and hills are harder than they used to be. But it has been lovely to be back on my bike and able to ride, even when it’s just around my neighborhood.
Here’s to many more lovely little rides this spring and summer.

Friday, April 12, 2024

Tomorrow: Coffee Outside AND Ladd's 500!

Hey Portland bike friends -- 

Tomorrow's Coffee Outside will happen at Colonel Summers Park in SE Portland. From there, a bunch of us plan to meander our way over to Ladd's Addition for the Seventh First Annual Ladd's 500.

Bring coffee, treats, and if you plan to go watch the mayhem at Ladd's, something small and portable to sit on -- ideally, something that fits at the curb without blocking the sidewalk.

It will be sunny and warmer tomorrow with highs in the low 70sF. If you decide to enter the event as a rider, there are very few rules. Dress for the mayhem and remember to keep turning left.

Happy riding!

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Wayback Bicycle Machine: on thrift and common sense

I came across this article in an old Bridgestone Bicycle catalog. Written by Peter Egan, who would go on to work for a time at Rivendell Bicycle Works, it makes as much, if not more, sense today as it did in 1994. Enjoy it, and then go ride your bike.




Sunday, April 7, 2024

Bike Farm needs some love. You can help.

I’m going to start helping out a couple times a month at Bike Farm, to get out of the house and not focus on my own stuff for a little while.

The Bike Farm is a workshop that allows people to rent tools and bench space, and learn how to repair their own bicycles. The shop is volunteer-run and depends on donations from the public as well as volunteer hours. 

If you’d like to find out more, check out their website: https://www.bikefarm.org/



Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Peugeot saddlebag support UPDATE

After trying the first saddlebag support rack on the Peugeot and finding it wanting, I swapped it over to the Rivvy, where it still needs adjustment but is working better there.

I went looking for another one and found it at the Bike Recyclery, a Portland shop dealing in vintage bikes and parts. The maker was unknown, suspected to be Japanese, and seemed like a far better shape and a better attachment design that might work, so I gulped and sprang for it to the tune of thirty bucks. (Though when I consider what I spent on buying, shipping and powder coating the English rack that’s now on the Rivvy, this may have been a bargain. Don’t tell my partner.)

Today I installed it on the Peugeot. And I learned two things: first, these cool, old saddlebag support racks are designed to work on road frames, where these less space between the seat stays and the rear wheel and between the rear wheel and the installed rack. Secondly, those design characteristics mean that any vintage support may work, but will look a little odd on a mountain bike, even an older one.

Still, I forged ahead. And along the way, I had to do some cutting and filing in order to accommodate the frame’s rack eyelets because I didn’t want to cut them off. It took some doing, but in the end I made it work. Again, it’s not a perfect fit, and it won’t be on a mountain bike, but it makes me happier than the previous rack did.

 



Getting the clamps to fit inside the space between the sear stays and above the brake cable hanger was a tight fit. Squeezing the ends together hurt my hands and I had to try several times before I was successful.

Then I had to remove the rack and cut and file space to fit around the frame’s rack eyelets, which I didn’t want to remove in case I wanted to use a full-sized rack later on.

The aluminum alloy rack came slightly bent out of alignment, and I had to be very careful about how much pressure I used to realign it so I didn’t break it. In the end, with several adjustments in a well-padded bench vise, I got the lower half of the clamps to properly align. If I want to bring the upper half of the clamps into better alignment I might have to use a hammer and punch, after zip-tying the lower halves into place and letting the outer-pushing spring of the rack do its job, I find that it’s holding solidly enough for now. I’ll add thicker zip ties to the top halves if I think it’s needed.

























If I tie the rear of the bag to the seatpost and close the bag, it sits well enough on the support that the support actually makes sense. If you look closely at the first photo, you’ll see that the end of the rack flares up just slightly, a nice touch that helps keep the bottom of the bag from rolling off the back of the rack. A coroplast stiffener inside the bottom panel of the bag may help reinforce that aspect. I’ll cut and install that tomorrow and see if it does.

Friday, March 22, 2024

Let’s do something stupid: Ladd’s 500

IT. IS. ON!

Ladd’s 500 returns for another day of bicycle mayhem.

Saturday, April 13 at Ladd’s Circle.

“Let’s do something stupid!”

Here’s the deal. Every year this event has grown in popularity, and every year the cost of putting it on has risen. David Robinson has been throwing this party out of his own pocket since 2016, but with permit costs rising upwards of $1200 (!!) it’s not feasible to keep expecting one guy to do all the heavy lifting.

So I’m going to suggest that, if you plan to show up to ride or watch, bring a few dollar bills with you, ask around for David (he’ll be in the middle of the circle with several hundred other people), and press the cash into his hand as a thank-you for all his hard work, and to help defray his out-of-pocket costs. 

See you on the 13th.


















Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Bike Happy Hour and getting my bearings again

#bikehappyhourpdx tonight was awesome. 

Hung out with a mix of new and old friends, excellent fries and fabulous #bikeogling — plus a sweet invitation to put my bicycle knowledge to work as a volunteer at @bikefarmpdx ! James from Bike Farm assures me I wouldn’t have to turn wrenches, and that I can talk someone through a repair and help them learn how to do it

I think I’m gonna take them up on the idea.

As long as no meetings are involved. 🤣









If you live in Portland and haven’t yet been to Bike Happy Hour, make it a Wednesday evening destination soon! You’ll find all kinds of bicycles to ogle, delicious food and drink, and some of the nicest folks around. Sometimes it’s just casual conversation, other times Jonathan (Maus, your host and founder of BikePortland.org) will invite local bike geeks on government and advocacy to come and field questions about bicycle transportation policy. It’s often interesting, and always fun.

And next week, I hope to gather some donations of stainless steel water bottles, to wash and regift to Blanchet House to hand out to people in need who are living outside. I’ll post on Facebook to remind people early next week, but feel free to spread the word yourself.

Happy riding, and see you next week at Happy Hour.

Wednesday evening - Bike Happy Hour?

Who wants to meet up tonight at Bike Happy Hour?

I’ll be there from 3 til around 5-5:30.

Also, I’ve lowered the price on my singlespeed city bike, from $300 down to $225.

Here’s a photo dump of bike content.

Happy hump day!








Saturday, March 9, 2024

FOR SALE in PDX: Deeluxe Singlespeed city bike! LOWER PRICE

As much as I have enjoyed this bike, the time has come where I can no longer pedal a singlespeed bike.

My knees simply cannot handle it anymore.

So as of today, it’s for sale.

Steel frame, 21” c-t, top tube 22” c-c. Ideal for someone between 5’ 6” and 5’ 8” tall.

Singlespeed with freewheel and hand brakes.

Converted to 26”/559 wheels with long reach calipers.

Special additions include Brooks B-17 saddle, PDW Bodega Basket, Karrimore saddlebag, Misfit Psycles handlebar. I could take these off and sell separately, but together they really complete the bike.

Upright, comfortable ride, perfect for around town riding.

Conversion and overhaul was done by a professional shop mechanic.

As it sits, I’d like $225 cash. NEW LOWER PRICE

If you want, I can swap in cheaper saddle and remove basket and saddlebag for less money.

PM me for a meetup.






Friday, March 8, 2024

Rack swap

Rack swap on the All-Rounder, after a nice slow ride in the sunshine.I’ve shored up the washer situation to spread the torque over a larger surface area and preserve the original bolt recesses in case I decide to put everything back later. 

The rack isn’t perfect for so large a bag but I think it’ll work well enough.

The previous rack will go with my Burley Travoy cargo trailer, which I plan to sell this spring. I don’t plan to haul anything that heavy anymore.

Happy riding.







Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Bike Happy Hour

I went.
I went multi-modal because I knew I couldn't ride the whole way there without suffering.
It was nice to get outside and socialize with folks I mostly did not know, though I also saw a few old friends. Jonathan Maus (our host) was thrilled at the turnout, and held forth about this and that thing and candidate in the upcoming election, where we will chosoe a new, more representational City Council and Mayor. I was more involved in a conversation about how we will all need a very long time -- perhaps a generation or more -- to really process the number that Covid did on us individually and collectively.
I stayed for about ninety minutes and could feel my energy draining, so I left, riding all the way to Lloyd Center before tossing my bike on the bus to get up the hill.
Whenever I stopped to catch my breath, I looked up at the sky, which was the most beautiful thing I saw this evening. Portland skies are often beautiful during the rainy season, so I made it a point to notice.
It was cold.
My knees hurt, most likely from the cold and from not having ridden very much.
My hands hurt whenever I leaned too hard on the handlebars or when I applied the brakes.
I could feel how out of shape I'd become over the last five years.
Quite frankly, Covid had done a number on me, too, and it was highly unlikely that I'd get most of my fitness back.
When I got home, I was tired and melancholy and achy.
Tonight is my second night with the CPAP machine, and I understand it could take several days or more to grow used to it.

I feel positively assailed these days by so much change and I don't like it.

I'm glad I could still ride my bike, but it was such a hard won moment of victory that I'm paying for with achy knees and a tired spirit.

I hope things will improve when the weather warms a little.