Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Coffee Ride

As friend Natalie missed our last excursion, she proposed we try something closer in, with coffee. I'm always up for that, although closer in for Natalie, Beth and Cecil is further away for me.

South from the Hawthorne Bridge

Cecil planned a route that started at Grand Central Bakery on N Fremont, heading north and ending up at Kelley Point Park, then back via Smith and Bybee Lakes, the PCT, Willamette Blvd, the Little Red Bike Cafe, and then back to the Grand Central Bakery. We'd start at 9am.

If I was to meet Cecil at her house at 8:30am, I'd have to leave my house around 7:15am. Sooo, all preparations done the night before, I was up at 6:30, ate a bit, poured a full commuter cup of coffee, and headed into Portland.

I am delighted to report that the "riding into Portland over the hill and through downtown" uneasiness was entirely not present today. I hope it is completely gone, because it is weird. I'll ride all over the Willamette Valley at all hours of the day and night, ride my bike to and from Detroit, OR, ride to the coast and back, etc, with none of this. I don't know what it is. Anyway, to make a short story long...

North from the Hawthorne Bridge

A brief pause for some pictures on the Hawthorne Bridge, than over to Cecil's. Brief pause, then we headed north to meet the others. They arrived a bit before us; we all ordered starting snacks (Natalie convinced me I needed a jammer) and visited. Natalie felt a bit under-luggaged, what with Cecil, Beth, and I on our fully retrogrouched bikes :-)

Beth on Willamette Blvd

Then, off we went, wandering around North Portland. Parts of it I was familiar with, others, not so much. We were riding through the industrial area west of St John's, on our way to Kelley Point Park, when Natalie came up with a flat. She realized she had no spare tube. My 650B spare tube to the rescue (650B and 26" tubes are practically interchangeable), and then my Topeak Road Morph pump, when her CO2 inflator didn't cooperate.

Natalie fixes her flat

Flat repaired we headed off to Kelley Point Park. We did a circuit of the park, then realized we had forgotten to go to the actual Kelley Point. Oh no! So we headed back into the park and enjoyed the view at the confluence. A bit of sprinkles here, but they quickly dissipated.

Cecil and Natalie at Kelley Point Park

Beth at Kelley Point Park

Then off to Smith and Bybee Lakes, through the water treatment plant, into North Portland and... "Cecil! Is there another food stop planned?" I was running low. And sure enough, we were headed to the Little Red Bike Cafe. Interestingly enough, it was crowded, but only 1 bike was parked outside. We greatly increased the number of bikes parked outside, and went in to get some food.

Natalie's and Lynne's bikes waiting outside

Cecil went for the vegan BLT, Beth and I ordered Paper Boys (fried egg sandwich with cheese), and Natalie got a latte. A nice long sit there, where we all helped Cecil with her potato chips, then off again. Ow. Sat a bit long. More riding through North Portland, eventually popping out on Willamette (NOW I know where I am), then back to Grand Central Bakery.

Lynne's Paper Boy sandwich

Beth and Natalie had to get along home. Cecil and I rode over to Dave VG's Bon Voyage Party in SE Portland (he's setting out on the Southern Tier Adventure Cycling Bike Route on Tuesday!).

As we were headed toward that evil hill on Holgate, a familiar vehicle passed and tootled. We waved at Fitz and arrived about 15 minutes later. Nice visiting all around for a few hours, then Fitz and I took our leave, and hit up the grocery on the way home....

All my pics here
Beth's pics here

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Lace Scarf

A friend: "isn't making lace done by tatting?". Well that's one way. Also bobbin lace, crochet, and knitting.

blocking detail - the pattern really pops out

I've been wanting to try knitted lace. The Branching Out scarf pattern seemed a good place to start - it had all the lace techniques (well, most of them, and all the common ones) in it, and, in theory, wasn't a hard project.

I had a large amount of Schaefer Anne fingering weight yarn leftover from some socks, by weight it appeared to be sufficient.

And so I cast on, and started out. Having learned from the Pink Ribbon Socks that it is really annoying to rip the whole thing out when you've made a mistake and can't figure out how to fix it, I put in lifelines after each pattern repeat (10 rows). The first 6 repeats were error-free. Piece of cake. I almost did not put in a lifeline after repeat 6. Good think I did - I think I did repeat 7 at least 5 times.

Branching Out - my first foray into lace

Error analysis showed that something was going wrong between pattern rows 3 and 5. I'd probably forget a yarn over.

My error correction techniques involved blowing up the lace chart so it was more easily readable and marking out logical (to me) groups of stitches, putting markers in the knitting, and running an additional lifeline after row 4. And slavishly counting stitches at the end of each row.

It worked, and I proceeded along with much less ripping out. My plan was to use up the yarn, so I kept doing repeats until it looked like I wouldn't have enough for a repeat and the five final rows, and bound it off last night.

the scarf before blocking

Blocking wires had been borrowed from friend K; it is now blocking on the floor in a spare bedroom. It looks way cool.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Curb Weight

I had Bleriot unloaded today, so I thought I'd weigh it, before putting the bags back on.

Does it look like a rando bike now or what?

29 lbs, with fenders, racks, generator hub wheel and lighting.

Then I weighed the Lemond, which has none of the above. 19 lbs.

Perhaps I was better off not knowing that.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Insert Title Here

Forecast, temps in the 30's. 60% chance of precipitation, mixed rain and snow. Winds ENE 16mph. Great day for a permanent, right? Or a day fit for neither man nor beast. But heck, randonneurs don't know the meaning of stupid, do they?

Fortified with many layers of wool, a complete change of riding gear in the van (two loops out of Newberg), and many, many changes of gloves, I set out for Newberg at 6am, for the 7am start. It was actually 41 degrees and clear at my house. By the time I got to Newberg, it was pouring, and in the 30's.

If Weather Underground had showed it below freezing, I wasn't going to leave the house - icy roads. I was the first arrival in Newberg. If no one else showed up, I was going home. Eventually the others showed up, and we all took ourselves over to the Thriftway to get started.

This was the Three Prairies Permanent, which I can now ride without a cue sheet :-) We had a tailwind heading out on 99W. It was also raining. Good thing I had washed the bike, right? By the time we got to Dayton, Bill, John Henry, Joanne and Bill had long vanished. The rain had stopped, not to return. Cecil and I stopped briefly to rearrange clothing - lighter gloves, one less layer (I pulled off the windvest I was wearing under my Showers Pass jacket).

We got ourselves to Dallas in good time - tailwind and all that. The route is pretty flat once one passes Archery Summit on 99W, until picking up 99W heading south out of Amity, where it starts rolling again, and then onto Bethel Rd, and then Perrydale Rd, where it really starts rolling, right up until the double decker climb into Dallas. Hot chocolate and french fries, and we were off again. Once we got to Rickreall, it was headwinds/crosswinds all the way back to Newberg. But it was sunny! We stopped in Amity to change rearrange clothes again and have a brief snack (hard boiled egg, some Luna gummies) after beating northward on 99W.

Calories were the order of the day in Newberg. The clerks in Thriftway welcomed us back. I had a handful of Fig Newtons, an entire pint of chocolate milk (540 calories), and half a package of Lime Chile Almonds (tasty, and more calories). Also refilled my thermos with hot water and brewed up another batch of Gatorade Tea.

Then out of Newberg, carefully NOT hitting the stupid adolescent males on undersized bikes with no helmets riding on Hwy 219 over the Willamette River on the bridge with the narrow shoulder and inadequate guardrail with massive semitrucks flying past.

Left on Champoeg Rd, past the aromatic dairy :-) and farms, then up, and south on French Prairie Rd for miles and miles and miles, in the sun, with a tailwind. We were going mostly 16-19 mph here. Then left onto St Louis Rd, and a crosswind. The nice thing about the Mt Angel loop, is that it is 20 miles shorter than the Dallas loop :-) And flatter. They are both pretty.

By this time, Cecil and I had rolled up our tights, pulled off our jackets, pulled down our armwarmers, and I was in summer short finger gloves. It was almost 60 degrees and sunny!

We passed John Henry, Joanne and Bill as they were headed back out of Mt Angel; we did not see Kevin all day.

Into Mt Angel, a short visit to Damen and Herren, then off to the market for Gardetto's snack mix and a banana. Cecil had Smartfood. We knew we were headed back into a headwind, which only seemed to be increasing as the day went on. Flags were standing out straight from flagpoles. Trees were swaying. Caution tape was flapping.

The westbound section was actually not so bad, but as soon as we turned north on Manning Rd... Whack. We plowed determinedly north. The stretch on Arbor Grove seemed longer than it should have :-) Somewhere along there we finally turned on our lights, mostly to be seen. We could still see quite well. It did not get dark until we passed Champoeg Park.

The stretch from the park to Hwy 219 also seemed really long. I could see Hwy 219 up ahead, but it just didn't get any closer. Sort of like seeing Hwy 101 from Parpala Rd on the Cape Disappointment perm.

Then over the Willamette, winching our way up to the turn onto Wynooski Road and the final stretch through Newberg.

We rolled our bikes right into the store, so we wouldn't have to take turns watching them (the checkers all welcomed us back). Cherie noted that I was back, after sounding uncommitted in December :-)

No speed records set on this outing.

Final rituals completed, we adjourned to Burgerville for post-ride hot food. Then home. I was shaking inside by the time I got home, and showered and collapsed. To say I was worthless today is an understatement...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

On Stopping at Stop Signs

(the followup post I promised)

As was pointed out to me, we are all adults, and hope that adults make wise adult decisions. Rolling a stop usually doesn't cause a problem, if one is riding with one or two other friends, and isn't riding through North Plains.

However, on group rides of upwards of a dozen riders, all trying to hold a pace together, interactions between cyclists and other road users become a bit more complex. The reason there are so many traffic laws, is so that all road users can arrive safely at their destination in relative peace and tranquility. In other words, there are customs/laws that provide all road users with consistent expectations of what the other road users are going to do, and proceed accordingly.

So, why stop at every stop sign?

Basic Points
It IS the law. Same roads, same rights, same rules.
Most unfavorable interactions between road users happen at intersections; that's why there are rules.
Group riding calls for more attention and riding skill/manners/convention/practices than riding with a couple of friends. Hence, consistent behavior is a Best Practice.
Rolling through stops is not modeling best practice, either to other riders, or to non-riding observers, like all those little kids we were waving to on the ride.
Rolling through stops also may cause further-back riders to not even realize there is a stop, leading to the possibility of a really bad thing happening. (Calling "clear" is another example of this. I never call "clear". Think lemmings.)

Mental Load (Cognitive Burden) points (yeah, you know what I do for a living)
By choosing to roll stops, the rider is incurring an additional cognitive burden - they've got to look, consider if it is clear, all while moving. You can't always tell if there is clear line of sight, until right at the stop sign.
Sometimes the stops (including the one I was rear-ended at) are not 4-way. So, you can't count on other road users stopping; they don't have to. By stopping at every single stop, there is no additional cognitive burden.
You can't screw up. And I can tell you that making this behavior automatic
can save your life when you least expect it. So, in my case, those long
rides in the middle of the night are less dangerous, because I'm not going
to absent-mindedly roll through a stop.

Additional Points
When a crash happens between a car and a bicycle, there is insurance that comes into play. When a crash happens where no car is involved, there is no insurance. It is all out of pocket.
Many fellow cyclists have lost their jobs, and possibly their health insurance. We can't afford to drop extra money on our nice toys or preventable injuries.
Cycling is one of the few low-cost activities we can continue to enjoy.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

First of all, it was a great day to ride

The early fog cleared off as I headed the 10 miles west to join the Saturday Portland Velo ride. After a bit of conversation with various ride leaders, I put myself in Jim Mazzocco's 17s group. I was riding Lemond, so had a fighting chance of staying attached.

I needn't have worried. I stayed attached the whole time; no problems.

The clouds burned off, the temperature went up, and we had a great ride south through the eastern edge of Hillsboro, then into the Tualatin Valley. The trees are fuzzing up. Fields are greening up. The berry bushes are still that amazing purple. The alpacas have been sheared. I even saw three little pigs, somewhere along River Road.

We all stuck together pretty much, and generally in the 16-18 mph range. (What, who, me?) Tim the bike mechanic was a bit puzzled at first: "I heard your voice, but didn't recognize you on that bike".

Then over Fern Hill, where my slug-like climbing tendencies asserted themselves. I found everyone at the bottom, and we proceeded on to Fern Hill and Geiger, to pick up those to went around the hill, rather than over it :-)

Into Forest Grove, heading west on 18th. Full stop at stop signs, like I always do. Except at one of them, I yelled "STOPPING!", stopped, and... wham! I was on the ground. I'd been rear-ended by another cyclist on the ride. The cyclist apologized. We got ourselves up and checked the bikes; they seemed ok. I could feel a bruise starting where the handlebar whacked into my inner thigh, but otherwise, nothing else was obvious. It goes without saying that the other cyclist was profoundly apologetic, and I'm not going to beat on that person here. There is a much bigger issue at hand, which I will address in a separate post.

That said, into Forest Grove, a brief stop, then north. Heading up David Hill Rd, my bike quit shifting smoothly. Another ride participant played with the cable adjuster and got it to work. It appeared the derailleur hanger was bent in the crash; I'll have to get the shop to look at it.

North on Thatcher. We were to turn right on Kemper, but the lead riders missed the turn; those of us in the know yelled, and they turned around. It always cracks me up that there is someone willing to lead, at a quick pace, and they don't exactly know where they are going. Well, they'll get there faster, wherever it is.

At one point Jim asked if I wanted him to pull. Oh, I'm not going fast enough? I wound it up to 19 for awhile. :-) I can do that on Lemond.

Then heading back east, flying along Wren and Leisy. Like around 20mph. Or, as I said to Jim (the ride leader) "17's huh?". Not that anyone was falling off, so it wasn't a big deal.

Finally back on Evergreen, passing the airport and then things got bouncy. Rear flat. It turned out to be a big nasty staple. I changed it, with Jim's company and help, then back to Longbottoms for post-ride coffee, company and quiche. Note: share the quiche with someone. It is incredibly rich and filling.

Immensely enjoyed Matt D's rant about the non-racers who latched on last week's ride with the race team - they could go fast enough, but do not have the group bike handling skills for riding in close quarters at high speed.

Then back out to find a squashy rear tire. I briefly thought of asking someone for a ride home, but then... what would a REAL randonneur do? (WWRD; remember that, folks)

Pulled off the rear wheel, got my patch kit, tire levers and pump and went back inside. As my spare was flat (see flat #1), I was going to be patching. I can't count the fascinated number of PV members watching. You are PATCHING that tire? Uh, yeah, not gonna get home any other way. You use patches with GLUE? No CO2 inflator? I'm old fashioned, I guess.

So, now with 3 patches, replaced the tube, pumped it up, and headed the 10 miles home. I'm happy to report no loss of tire pressure this time.

So, I've got a sunburn :-) and a whacking fast pace for the 61 mile ride today.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Fake Spring Weather

It isn't going to last, but right now it is 55 degrees outside. And sunny, although it is starting to fade.

I had intended to do intervals on a borrowed trainer inside, but it was way too nice outside! Rousted out a new member of the "I need a job" club, and we headed up to Council Crest/Fairmount.

I got in three 30-30's on the Sunset Bike path before Pointer Road, three more on Hewett, and the final six on the Fairmount Loop (the faintly uphill part). I didn't do them on the curves - I'd be going much faster than I am comfortable there. Or uphill, because I'm not there yet.

(30-30 - go really hard for 30 seconds, go less hard, but not easy for the next 30 seconds).

We paused at Council Crest park to admire the view, and watch a wedding photographer take photographs of a couple. She wore a long white skinny strap dress with black bodice and honking big black boots. And flowers in her hair. It worked, but was somewhat unexpected.

I do like the way I can get the Lemond from 15 to 22 with practically no effort at all. The Bleriot just doesn't respond like that. Now, if I could just HOLD that 22mph.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

And the day after

It was Friend Beth's birthday breakfast. Last year, I tried to ride over, and found a lot of snow. This year, it was freezing fog. After checking the Weather Underground local weather stations, and noting that it was below freezing at my house, and only got colder going up, I elected to ride to the Sunset Max station, take the train to Holladay Park, and ride over from there. The transport method home would be late binding.

Uneventful trip to Beth's. I did toss in an older Bike There map, just in case (I can get lost in Portland :-) ), but I just headed north on 7th until it went away, cut over to 9th, then east on Ainsworth, north on 15th. E-Z.

Hot coffee, good company, lots of good food. Cecil showed up minutes after I did; we visited with Joel, who we haven't seen for awhile, and Tori, who I think we scared into never trying a fleche, and Dave and Edna and...

As Cecil thought she ought to be HOME somewhere around noon, we set out; we'd ride together until I either stopped at a transit stop or arrived at SE Madison, from whence she goes home and I cross the Hawthorne Bridge, and ride up through downtown, Washington Park and Sylvan and then downhill to home.

As we were assembling to leave, a shocked hush fell over the remaining guests once they realized that Cecil and I really are Bobbsey Twins. When we ride, we often match from head to toe, even without pre-planning. As we did today - Orange Bell Metro helmets with attached lighting, yellow Showers' Pass jackets, black pants (not the same ones) and the black and magenta PI Gore-Tex shoes... Comments were made about had we ever considered riding a tandem :-)

But before we left, Beth's across the street neighbors, who were firing up an amazing big barbeque, asked if we were vegans. The guy is a pit boss and sous chef and he does events, and apparently makes a nice bbq tofu. Not being the vegan, or even vegetarian half of the set, I would be more interested in his traditional offerings. He said he cooked most weekends; we should stop by and taste. (Are you reading this, Joel?) Then they asked how far we were riding and had the predictable responses. Really, folks would be surprised how far they could ride once they got into it.

As the road was no longer freezing (not that it was in any way WARM), I elected to ride all the way home. Toes are froze, but the rest of me is fine.

From Beth's house to mine, by a longer route than I'd probably take if riding directly (I'd cross the Steel or Broadway Bridges, rather than the Hawthorne) it is just over 14 miles.