Sunday, November 30, 2008

Shrouded in the mist

A short ride up to Council Crest/Fairmount and back. Just to make my uncle happy, I took pictures :-) It was a good thing I had the bicycle with good head and tail lights.

just below Council Crest Park

just below Council Crest Park

Council Crest Park in the fog

Council Crest Park in the fog

Testing Saddles

I've got a Brooks saddle. While my sit bones are generally happy, the ridge down the middle makes other parts of me not so happy.

My Brooks saddle

Friend Andrew was sporting a Brooks saddle with the Selle An-Atomica cutout. He offered it up for a two week trial, as he won't be riding that bike for a couple weeks. I just took it for a 15 mile spin up to Council Crest. Other than it is way too narrow, this seems to have promise.

Andrew's Brooks saddle

I've got other saddles; mostly varieties of the Terry Butterfly. Generally, I like the non-ridge down the middle, but they have other issues that the Brooks does not. So, we'll see.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

6000 Miles

As anticipated, Bleriot rolled over 6000 miles yesterday. I was on Stringtown Road, valiantly trying to keep up with Diane and Jason, so, other than inner glee, no pics.

The Oregon Randonneurs Wine Country Populaire is held every year, usually the Saturday after Thanksgiving, but this year, it was the Saturday before. The route is just shy of 70 miles, starts in Forest Grove, does a north and west loop before heading south, includes an out and back to Cherry Grove, then to Gaston, Yamhill, Carlton, Lafayette, and back to Forest Grove.

It started out at the very civilized hour of 9am; I was riding with Diane and Jason. Jason's Sekine was getting immense amounts of love from other riders (late-70's vintage, assembled in Alberta by First Peoples). He was bemused.

It was grey and foggy. I was, of course, overdressed (post hypothermia stress syndrome), and stopped along Stringtown Rd to pull off a layer. I eventually found Diane and Jason stopped on Dilley Rd where Plumlee drops in, and Jason looked right at me, so I kept going. I excel at riding slowly, so I need to not stop much. I figured they'd start up again and catch me. Noooooo. Heading south on Hwy 47 to the Cherry Grove turnoff. Nooooooo. I saw Peg and Lesli up ahead and was trying to catch them (no luck), and leapfrogged some with Duane and ? on Duane's tandem, and Michael W and Allison on Michael's recumbent tandem. Michael and Allison could stop and faff any old time, because when they were going, they were usually doing 20+. That's a big engine up front, yes indeed.

Finally, on the last few rollers into Cherry Grove, Jason came riding up. They didn't see me :-)

Saw several riders heading back out - the Kramer, Del, others I didn't know. There was a big crowd at the Baptist church (the info control in Cherry Grove; Susan is going to run out of questions soon :-) ) Snacks, filling out of cards, flipping of maps. Michael wanted me to take a picture of him and Alison, but, as my hands were full of gloves and brevet card, and my mouth was full of Sweet Salty Peanut bar, I handed the camera off to Jason.

Off again, in a larger group. Most everyone missed the right onto Bates Rd, I yelled, and they came back (I may be slow, but I don't get lost TOO often.) Through Gaston, where many peeled off in search of a restroom. We kept on going, heading south on Spring Hill to Laughlin Rd, the next control. Philippe was there with coffee, fruit, Fig Newtons (I ate a handful of those, and my banana).

Off to Yamhill, where Jason stopped in search of a facility (I kept going), through Carlton. I had thought to stop at the yarn store there, but, really, the hot tub back at the Grand Lodge was calling. Into Lafayette, with a stop at Carneceria Abastos (food) and the blue room down the hill by the baseball field. I love the crosswalk across 99W in Lafayette. Cars STOP.

Then the autopilot route back to the Grand Lodge. At some point along there, I had a shadow, but it was brief. There was a bit of a tailwind, which I SO appreciated. We arrived, 6:09 after we left, and quickly adjourned to the hot tub. Brian L was already soaking, and Michael and Allison showed up shortly thereafter :-)

Delightful dinner afterward with Brian, Susan, Peg, Allison B, ?, Jason, Duane, ? and me. Peg's new custom frame is built, and she's working through the component issue. As am I, but I've got over a year to work it out. (Bar ends or brifters? That is the crux of it.)

I did this ride at a pace somewhat above my customary rando pace, and, well, it hurt! So, today, when Fitz suggested we might ride to the Hillsdale Farmers' Market to get apples, I had to think about it for awhile. You know the result.

Put the u-lock and cable back on the Bleriot, and some lube on the chain, and off we went. The direct route is pretty much a straight shot down Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy, and we weren't going to do THAT. Followed the Sunset Hwy bike path (headwind!) up to Hewett, up the block to Dosch, down Dosch to Sunset (first street past the stop sign at Hamilton, St Andrews Presbyterian on the left), left on Sunset all the way down to, and across Beaverton-Hillsdale, though a parking lot, and there we were. Locked up the bikes (1 u-lock and two heavy cables, plus 1 tree), and shopped.

Apples, rye bread from Fressen, a glorious bunch of parsley from Ayers farm (rode right past them on SpringHill yesterday), and a decadent tangerine brownie from The Brownie Farm. We went over there, because I wanted to know if they were raising brownies, or if the farming was done by the brownies.

Then home, via the southern route - into Multnomah Village (and if there was ever an argument for taking the lane, that's where you do it. Blatantly.) with a stop at Starbucks, then the glorious descent down Multnomah/Garden Home, hop onto the Fanno Creek Trail behind the Garden Home Rec Center, onto Allen, through the industrial park on Arctic, onto 5th, turn right to cut through the Park Plaza shopping center, which has a light to cross Beaverton-Hillsdale onto 107th, at which point the route home is quite clear.

My legs feel less heavy, so this was probably a good thing. This afternoon - Bleriot will have a bath. It is filthy...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Country Mouse visits the Big City

Or, I rode into Portland to have lunch with friend John. You've listened to me stress about riding into Portland - the descent through Washington Park, yadda, yadda.

So today I did it with lots of rain and leaves on the road. Not bad at all. I think they've repaved some, but not all, of the bad pavement.

Up to Sylvan (hey, that's the easy part), down to the Zoo, then winding around on Kingston. The last very steep drop before the Rose Garden is freshly repaved about 30 feet or so before the stop sign.

I always screw up, rather than make the hard left, I go straight and left and end up in the parking lot, and have to haul my bike back up the stairs to the road. I'll get it right one of these days. Then there is finding my way to the top of Stearns Way. Missed it this time; carried bike down stairs, walked along a path - I could see it, but I couldn't get there! Finally, almost back at the top, I got onto it and descended to Burnside. Hey, it has been repaved, too! Nice!

Cross Burnside, go behind the Uptown Shopping Center, and decide to descend on Lovejoy. Oops, no, streetcar tracks, cut over a block to Kearney. Did you know NW 11th does not have a street sign readable from the west? So, right on 9th, right on Davis up to 11th, where the Deschutes Pub and Brewery awaited. Open spot at a bike rack; good. Locked Bleriot and the Carradice bag :-) leaving Little Pink Bear on guard. John had just arrived; we got a seat by the window where I could watch the bike.

Nice lunch - I went for the Reuben and soup. Half the sandwich is saved for later. John and I had a great visit. We used to run together every day, then he was laid off. A year later... Yeah, well, now we can have lunch from time to time downtown.

I then headed over to the east side to Acme Welding, as they indicated they could fix the stem bolt for the Gitane. East on Everett, cross Naito, lower level of the Steel Bridge, and then followed the Esplanade to Salmon.

There were actual periods of non-rain, but mostly it was dumping, with a strong south wind, most noticeable on the bridges.

Acme Welding is great - they don't appear to have an office; one just walks into the large garage. They thought they could fix it, but not immediately, so I left the pieces, and headed out. South on 6th, west on Madison, over the Hawthorne Bridge, and wonder of wonders, no traffic behind me, so I could turn left, and then right onto Jefferson.

Climbed up out of downtown, passed the Goose Hollow Max station and under the Vista Bridge, then left on Murray Lane, another vacated street like Stearns. Fresh pavement there, too. Then up through the park, up the very steep bit (bail, all ye who enter here), then winding my way up to Sylvan and down to home, and a hot shower.

21 miles and change. 3 more miles, and Bleriot rolls over 6000!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Last winter, in my ongoing search for dry, warm hands while cycling, I bought the REI Taped Mittens. And they worked very well. The only drawback is that they are mountaineering mitts and have long cuffs, straps you can tighten, straps you can put around your wrist and a drawstring at the ends.


Imagine getting all that under the cuffs of one's rain jacket, even the generous cuffs of the Showers Pass Elite 2.0. It is challenging. I can't do it, not with any great speed. Long-suffering riding companions have helped out.

On the last ride, it struck me... I have the skills, I have the equipment! I can remove all that extra fabric and give them ribbing cuffs! Called down the street to my sister-in-law, who has amazing stores of fabric trims and such, and made off with enough ribbing to modify the mitts.



Monday, November 17, 2008

The View 30 Minutes from Home

Lemond with Mt St Helens in the background

Mt St Helens and Mt Adams are in the picture, but you've got to look closely. Or view the big size.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Amazingly Gorgeous Ride

A sunny November Saturday, the rando ride for the month is done, time for another Portland Velo Saturday ride.

With all the traveling, my riding has suffered somewhat, so the past couple weeks have been "whip myself back into shape". Today was no exception.

Met Cecil at the top of the hill, collected Jason along the way, and got to Longbottom's in plenty of time for pre-ride faffing. In Cecil's case, buying and consuming a muffin. By the time she gets to the start, she's already ridden 20+ miles. I figure my substantial bowl of steel-cut oats with brown sugar, Craisins, walnuts and milk will stick with me for awhile yet, and it is only 10 miles for me.

Back to the challenging bit. When riding with the Velo these days, I've tended to hang with the least velocitous group. Some days, like the very rainy previous Saturday, I was riding Bleriot and leaving the generator on, so I found myself as the Lanterne Rouge.

This Saturday, it being bright, dry and sunny, Lemond came out of the garage. I attached myself to the non-tempo 17's group. And hung on for dear life. Well, not the first part, up to the Laurel Store. That was fine. Then we climbed Holly Hill. I've never done that stretch of road. Oh my goodness! Not as stiff a climb as Carpenter Creek, and outstanding views at every turn. Views out over the valley (farms, nurseries in full fall color blazing out), plus amazing views of Mt Hood, Mt Adams, Mt St Helens, AND Mt Rainier. Wow. Kicked myself that I did not have the camera along. That said, I was a bit at the back, because I stepped into the store for a moment, and then everyone was gone. Fortunately, Bud had on a bright orange jersey, and I caught sight of it at crucial turns. I eventually caught and passed two riders, even.

Then, excellent scenery, and a fun descent, once we hit the straight part. Then out onto McCormick Hill Rd, Vandeschuere Rd, where bad things have happened, and sure enough, there was Bud, extracting himself from a ditch. New bike, and the chain kept shifting off into air. On the rollers of Vandeschuere, that's enought to fall over.

He reassembled himself and we headed along. As we were coming into Scholls, he realized that his wallet was not with him. After reassuring me that he had a map and knew where he was, he went back. I caught the group at the corner of Scholls Ferry; Cecil and Brian went back.

We pressed on, enjoying the short but steep climb that is Clark Hill (oh, but the descent on the other side!), and paused for about 5 minutes, in hopes that Bud, Cecil and Brian would appear, and then went on.

As I'd just had a couple of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups at the store, I was starting to fade a bit. Kept plugging along, though, and caught the group at the stops.

Eventually returned to Longbottom's, where the Omelette Special was ordered, in hopes of reviving me. Just as my food appeared, so did Cecil, Brian and Bud. And Bud's wallet!

The usual post-ride socializing (with J-Rod this week), then Jason, Cecil and I headed east. Wow! What a GREAT ride! 63+ miles. And faster, too.

Because the Other Guy Counts Too

Think about it. And unlike the speaker, I do have skin in the game. One sister, one daughter, one nephew, a cousin, several friends... How can I not want for them what I have for free? Why should it be so hard?

It Gets Worse Before It Gets Better

Houston, we have a problem

The garage is undergoing a renovation, which will turn the room currently designated as the wood shop into the bike shop. It will be wonderful when that day arrives.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


As in eleven out of twelve, twelve consecutive months of riding a RUSA or ACP sanctioned ride of at least 200km. One more to go.

Yesterday, Bill, Cecil and I rode the Praires and Wetlands permanent. This is two loops out of Newberg, the first loop going to Mt Angel by a circuitous route, the second loop heading southwest to Dayton, then Lafayette, and then Forest Grove and back to Newberg.

The weather was going to be bad. So very bad that Cecil and I had a complicated phone conversation the night before, looking at various weather websites. It appeared that all the dire weather warnings had been postponed, so, in Cecil's words: "there are lots of bailout points on this route. If it gets really bad, we can bail". If it rained as much as it was supposed to, we'd be bailing, anyway. Or building pontoons for the bikes.

One bright spot - I finally found my Dachstein mittens that had been packed away since 1993. If you follow the link, you'll find that they don't seem to be much available in the USA anymore. But if I wore THOSE under my waterproof shells, maybe, just maybe my hands would be warm.

Arrived in Newberg, followed shortly by Bill. It was, oh, misting heavily. And dark, since our start time was 6am (note: the Thriftway in Newberg is open 24hrs). Bill: "I was expecting a call from you or Cecil about rescheduling." Yeah, let me tell you about that.

So much assembling of selves. As I was DETERMINED to have dry feet for as long as possible, I had on wool socks, waterproof socks (Serius Stormsocks), PI Gore-Tex riding shoes AND the Sugoi Resistor booties. I was wearing AmFib tights over the booties as well. Wool baselayer and LS wool jersey, with my Shebeest WindPro vest and Showers Pass jacket over that. Wool cap. very lightweight summer fingerless gloves, with the Dachsteins and REI Elements shells over those. As we'd be coming back to Newberg, we left extra clothing and extra food in our vehicles.

Off into the dark and rain, heading south from Newberg. Crossing the Willamette River on the Hwy 219 bridge is always an experience. In the dark and rain, yet still with semi trucks, even more so. Turned off to the right on Champoeg Rd, and saved Bill and Cecil from a wrong turn - I'd been there before on another ride, in the daylight. We were riding into a headwind all the way to our southernmost point, and our forward progress was glacial. Around 8am I reached down and switched off my front light. If I had left it in "Auto" it would have stayed on all day.

The route to Mt. Angel was interesting, and we ended up approaching it from the east, after visiting the Gallon House Covered Bridge (info control). But we also had a short run north, with the wind at our backs. Nice. Got to the first timed control with 9 minutes to spare, after a stop at the public restrooms in Mt Angel ("Damen" and "Herren"). Ate sandwiches out of the wind and rain (it never stopped raining), then headed back to Newberg. We finally got to enjoy the tailwind once we got back onto Butteville Rd. Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Lots of colorful nursery stock and navigating flocks of birds in evidence.

Cecil was hoping for that tailwind to blow us up to Forest Grove, too.

My hands were very warm all morning. Very warm. My feet were chilly, but they stayed dry until mile 62. A new record. Strangely enough, once they soaked through, they were warmer. Must have been the wetsuit effect of the waterproof socks.

Stopped in at the Thriftway for a receipt (one cookie from the bakery, 9 cents). While Cecil was inside, I watched the bikes, ate a banana and a bar, called Fitz (I was under instructions to check in from time to time, due to the dire weather warnings; Cecil was under similar instructions from Greg :-) ), flipped my map, and did all those other things you do at a control. Or try to remember to do at a control. Then a quick pass by the cars to get more food, and dry gloves.

Then, heading off southwest on 99W. Ick. Ick. Ick. The bike lane is horrible - 99W has been repaved, but only halfway through the bike lane, with a ragged edge. Where there is not a bike lane, the shoulder varies in width, usually getting darn narrow right about the time a double dump truck is passing at 55mph. Oh, and still raining. I was never so happy to turn off onto Hwy 18 in my life. I found Bill and Cecil waiting at the Historic Blockhouse in Dayton (info control). Off to Lafayette, on very familiar roads, then north on Mineral Springs. The turn onto Gun Club Rd was pretty easy to find. Onto Hwy 47 for 22 miles, passing through Carlton and Yamhill. Again, fast, relatively heavy traffic, and not the best shoulder. Once we crossed into Washington County, just south of Gaston, the shoulder suddenly became much wider.

The awaited tailwind was there, but not nearly as enthusiastic as it had been earlier. Darn.

Into Forest Grove. We stopped for some pizza at Pizza Schmizza. A couple of college students wanted to know if we were on a special bike ride. Yup. They thought it was cool.

The woman working there told us to ride safe back to Newberg. We thanked her and headed out.
The rain had gotten more enthusiastic at this point, but the expected headwind was strangely light. Not that we were complaining. As we headed south on Fern Hill, then Spring Hill, Cecil said I really needed to turn on my light. So I did, with no obvious speed penalty. Clearly the wind had shifted some. It is amazingly dark on this stretch of road when it is raining. Pitch dark. I took the navigator lead, as I ride it often enough, I can do it backwards and forwards.

Crossing the one-lane bridge south of Laughlin was interesting. The oncoming headlights were blinding, and we weren't sure the car was going to stop (it was supposed to). Cecil slipped on the slick wooden bridge surface (Wine County Populaire riders, take note) and went down. We spent a bit of time getting her chain back on, then proceeded along. Dark, dark, dark, dark. I knew we were passing by the wetlands, but could only see a dim reflection from a house light.

Starting to wonder when we'd get to our turn. I could finally see cars coming down on what had to be Ribbon Ridge road, so there it was. The first roller is always a shocker, and I did not remember to bail before heading up. A brief stop to get the chain where it belonged, then up and over, rolling our way east to Tangen Road. Then south, heading into Newberg on a route new to me. Bill and Cecil had done it, but not in full darkness. We were stupidly staring at Hwy 240, knowing we weren't supposed to go there, but turn left onto...what?

Turns out there was a road, but the oncoming headlights completely trashed our vision. Nice, quiet, peaceful... Then a few more interesting turns (I still don't know what we did), and there we were back at the cars.

A quick zip to Thriftway for receipts, and Diet Pepsi for me. I had the same checker (Cherie) who thought Cecil and I were nuts at the end of our previous permanent. She's used to it now :-) I told her I'd see her next month :-)

We adjourned to the Burgerville to change into dry clothes and get post-ride food. We stupidly bought cold drinks and had to get after-dinner hot chocolates to warm up, and continued plotting for next month's ride. Three Prairies, another two-looper out of Newberg. Who's in?

(sorry, no pictures. the overmitts preclude using the camera. just look at pictures from my other rides, and insert interminable rain)

Cecil's writeup here
Bill's writeup here
Bill's pics here

The Gitane, again

fork needs love
Originally uploaded by periwinklekog
The front fork finally had a good look-over. As it turned out, nothing wrong with the headset - the fork crown had never been faced. Friend and bike mechanic B. went at it this evening, and it is much better.

Next step - get the broken stem bolt (rust, fortunately it did not die when I was RIDING it) rewelded...

More pics on the front fork - just follow the link attached to the original picture.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

User Experience Professional At Large

That would be me. I was laid off on Monday, along with my manager, and most of our group. It took Monday and Tuesday to excavate my desk (30 years makes for a lot of stuff). As I had to turn in my badge end of day Monday, my (former) second level manager had to sign me in and get me a badge. While it said "Escort required", other than needing someone to open the outside doors for me, I had the freedom of the building. Excavated, visited around, etc.


30 years of stuff

I wouldn't say I'm in disbelief, although I still wonder at the logic of blowing away the corporate user experience group.

That said, I'm probably not going to seriously start looking for a job until at least after Thanksgiving.

However, if you know of anyone that needs someone to
  • elicit user requirements,
  • get an excellent understanding of the user's problem space from the USER'S point of view,
  • facilitate the formation of product requirements,
  • create user personas and scenarios,
  • design a user interface architecture, and then populate it with the details of a user interface,
  • as well as do iterative usability testing...
  • preferred in the Portland area
let me know!

In the meantime, I'm going to ride a permanent next Tuesday. 200km, Prairies and Wetlands.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Week in Histon, Cambridgeshire

I was working there again last week. For those of you keeping track, of the last 5 weeks, I was home for one...

So, back to Histon, and I wasn't sick this time! I did not take the bike; it was going to be dark early, and I wasn't staying over a weekend day. Really, I can walk to the office just fine, it is only .8 miles and darn scenic.

House and windmill in Histon

As I was walking, rather than riding, I saw many more cyclists. My unscientific survey shows that not quite half wore helmets, darn few wore cycling clothes, and most had lighting. A few ninjas, but much fewer than we see in the Portland area. They ALL had fenders :-)

So, pics of the Cambridge area:

The road through Histon
(note the pinch in the road with the bike cut through ahead)

The Old House

I never did learn what this was about

Rest of the pictures are here. Alert readers will note that I had a shortbread fixation.