rode report 2016.03.31

April 1, 2016

Another beautiful day. Second one in a row. It looks like winter riding is over (fingers crossed), which means more miles in the daylight, and that always inspires more confidence, at least for a little while. Yesterday, on the ride home, I felt like I wanted to ride as fast as I could, not that I did, because that’s not my jam around car traffic. Still, I had that very boundless feeling of happy energy from the sunshine and the 70 degrees temperature, which I channeled it into pushing myself on the hills.

I remember a ride back in February, when it was still dark in the morning. I was stopped at a light in the Rose Quarter, and I noticed birds chirping. It felt so hopeful. Like, oh thank god, twilight riding is almost over. There was a time when I liked my pre-sunrise and post-sunset commutes. They were kind of quiet. My routes felt generally calm. But as car traffic in Portland worsens, I am finding late fall and winter riding to be much more mentally challenging than they used to be. Or maybe every year, I forget how it felt. Anyway, I just deleted a bunch of stuff I wrote about winter commuting because the sun is out and we have entered the season of longer days. Be here now. Right?!

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rode report 2016.03.28

March 29, 2016

Flat front tire this morning. First thing. Before I even started pedaling. Not sure how I missed it last night when I rolled my bike from the garage to the house, which is how I do – prep for my morning commute, as much as I can, the night before. Maybe there was nothing to notice, as in it was a slow leak. But even then, you think I would have caught a deflated tire when I rolled my bike over the front door trim and out of the house this morning. It just doesn’t seem possible that it was a full tire until I stood up on the pedals and somehow pushed out all the air – whoosh. When does that ever happen? Like a flat tire in waiting.

But I don’t know; maybe it was partially full?

I am belaboring this point here much longer than I belabored it in reality. Which is kind of how writing works. You think something for 10 seconds and then write about it for at least 10 minutes. But also, I just had a flat tire on Friday. Seriously. Three days ago. Back tire. And it  was a bigger ordeal because I had already biked in more than half of my commute when my tire went flat. So there was some walking and taking the max and walking again. Really, it could have been much, much worse, if for instance, I lived some where without something like a max that I could put my bike on. But I digress. In reality this morning, I was like: fuck. again. ugh. wish I woulda caught it sooner. work. email work. why am i embarrassed? make coffee. don’t change your clothes.

When does Bike Gallery open?

In my life, I’ve changed out a flat possibly two times. So, yes, I can change one (although I am slow-ass-slow), but if I don’t absolutely have to, then I don’t. Portland’s got a bajillion bike shops. Bike mechanics have changed a bajillion flats. That makes me, not a bajillion times happier, but happier than I would be if the aforementioned weren’t true. I would be a bajillion times happier, if more than one of these shops had early morning hours. Like last Friday morning, I would have been ecstatic if Metropolis, the bike shop I walked by on Williams, would have been open. Isn’t there a business case for early morning bike repair hours? Especially post the spring-forward time change, lots of people bike commute in pre-bike shop hours, i.e. before 10am. And chains break. Spokes break. Lights stop working. Flats happen. Bolts wiggle out of eyelets and racks come loose. But I imagine bike shop people can make a very convincing lifestyle case for not starting work before 10.

The guy at the Bike Gallery on Sandy was super fast. Kinda curt. But he didn’t go down the mansplaining hole. This points to the low bar I’ve set for the bike shop customer service experience, which is so defined by mansplanation overload, that the absence of it counts as a win, regardless of the quality of the work. The thing is  I don’t have the expertise to assess the work. If I did, maybe I would just do the work myself. And admittedly, I don’t think to check up on the work either, or at least whatever I can figure out to check up on. I think I should be able to assume the mechanic has correctly fixed whatever they said the would fix (and charged me to fix) and then put my bike back together so that it won’t fall apart as I am riding it. (In a sec, I will explain why you shouldn’t make this assumption). But also, it’s pretty common for mechanics to talk smack about the work of other mechanics. Like the Bike Gallery dude didn’t find anything that had punctured the tire and tube, so maybe he was talking out of his ass when he said that what caused the flat was that someone had installed a tube that was too big and there a fold in the tube that caused a hot spot that resulted in a slow leak. I’ve been racking my brain trying to remember the last person who fixed a flat on my front tire and I think it at was my regular shop and I just can’t imagine those guys fucking up the tube. The Cat Six guys are the best.

Anyway, back to checking work and not assuming things got fixed up right. The silver lining to this morning’s flat is I discovered a fuck up on the rear tire that was caused by the Tram guy who fixed the flat last Friday. The tire was bubbled out by the stem, so much so that it was almost unbeaded from the rim. Had I ridden on it many more days like that, it probably would have blown out on me. The Bike Gallery dude said that what happened was that before the Tram dude fully inflated the rear tube, he either 1) didn’t pull the tube stem all the way through the opening in the rim, or 2) didn’t get the tire bead fully seated in the rim, or 3) locked down the nut on the valve.

I told the Tram guy about his fuck up when I finally got to work this morning, although I didn’t call it a fuck up. He didn’t argue with me, but he didn’t look like he really believed me either. I immediately wished I would have taken a photo. I don’t know why I didn’t ask for my money back, as it was a shitty repair job. But mostly I wanted to impress on him that it could have ended up in bad scene for me. So check your work, dude.

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01.20.2016 one thing

January 21, 2016

Running out of energy two thirds of the way through my morning and evening commutes and lots of unhelpful self talk ensues. Maybe I had too much weight in my panniers or started out too fast. Or maybe I didn’t get enough sleep or my legs are tired. Or maybe I am more out of bike shape than I thought I was because I’ve not ridden regularly since Thanksgiving. The wind picks up in those last 30 blocks on the way home. My mind stares down the Prescott micro climate and dusk. I tuck away the traffic fear. I fantasize that my legs are stronge than they are. I think I should wear my glasses at night

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4137 Miles Later

October 28, 2015

Fifteen months after moving in with MTB and I’ve logged over 4000 miles and around 318 hours on my bike. Just getting back and forth from our home to my job. Whew. That’s almost like riding from here to Indy and back.

My work commute is about 20 miles round trip, and I telecommute one day a week, but do I ride year round. Thank you, gear! And by gear I mean fenders, rain jacket, booties, gloves, wool shirt, etc., all of which gets me through the larger chunk of my commuting days. Some weather does keep me out of the saddle, namely snow and ice. And while I fucking hate wind, and I will talk about it at length later, even on the windiest days last year, I rode, as long as the temperature or wind chill didn’t drop to, or below, the low 20’s. Once it gets that cold, my hands and my face can’t stand up to a 45 minute ride. It just feels miserable, even after I get off my bike, warming up my hands is so painful that sometimes I cry a little.

These day, I’m actively trying not to think about those kinds of conditions. I’m conserving my mental energy to adjust to the fall — to dark mornings, shorter evenings and cooler temperatures. And to the rain.


The rain.

It’s supposed to rain every day for the rest of this week and weekend.

When it comes to high temperatures, I have lots more tolerance. When it got into the upper 90’s or hotter out here this past summer, I was fine. I just drank lots of water and slowed down my pace. On a couple of occasions, like when everything was on fire and the wind covered Portland in smoke, I loaded my bike in my car, drove half way to work, parked and then biked in the rest way. And a couple of other days I rode to work in the morning, and then met MTB afterward and we loaded the bike up on her car for the drive home, which, interestingly, took us about as long as it would have taken me to bike the same distance. Portland car traffic is real. Stupid real.

Since moving, most of my bike mileage has come from my work commute, and, on the books, that makes sense because it’s a longish commute. But, also I’m doing less of the other kind of riding that I used to do, which was a combination of biking around to run errands and to go out, or to meet friends, or just to take a ride because riding is fun. I think I do less of this kind of biking, in large part, because I live further out now, and getting to places takes more effort and planning and logistics, and all of this, I will also talk about more, later. But even though I don’t bike to as many different kinds of activities as I used to, during fair weather I do ride more. And that means that for 3 months out of the year, I might be averaging more like 100 or 120 biking miles a week. And that means that I’ve probably biked somewhere upwards of 4500 miles since I moved in with MTB.

All this to say, I spend a lot of time in the cycling world. Most of it biking, for sure, but there’s also time spent maintaining my bikes, dealing with gear, staying up on the biking news, planning my routes, checking the weather forecast, which I do every night when I am riding the next day, and transitioning on and off my bike, which means anything from packing and unpacking my panniers to waxing and/or venting about my ride. It’s a big part of my life, and it kind of snuck up on me, as in, I never planned to be riding this much. But here I am and I want to talk about it.


cold ass portland joy

January 3, 2013

Right now in Portland it’s 35 degrees, but because of the wind it feels like it’s 25. I was standing outside the barber shop tonight trying to get my light attached to my bike and I put my glove in my mouth and after a few seconds I was like, “right, “I’ve been wiping my nose on my glove.” Snot. Its the epitome of winter riding. It was a cold ass cold ride home but because my barber shop gives me out a shot of whiskey with a haircut, I was feeling more badass than ice block. So I made up some songs, one of which I sang the whole way home in a falsetto, inspired by all the 60s and 70s soul music playing at the shop. The song went something like: “I’m a cold ass mother fucker and I’m mother fucking cold.” Best cold bike ride of the season, so far. There are times, like tonight, that riding in the cold or in down pour, can have the side benefit of  feeling like I’m tough as nails. Its an awesome feeling. Thank you whiskey, a high ass voice, a good hair cut, long underwear, lungs, legs, so very little car traffic, and my trusty Long Haul Trucker.

When I got home I turned up the stereo loud and blasted Missy Elliott, Micheal Jackson, De La Soul, Rob Base, Chaka Khan, Salt-N-Peppa and some other shit that made me feel like dancing around my house, like I was getting ready to go out on on a Saturday night. I fed the cats. Lifted weights. Got down with myself between sets. I have no idea what any of this is about. Not gonna analyze it either. Lets call it joy.


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there was light behind the clouds

December 17, 2012

I went to get my haircut this afternoon and then rode up Mt Tabor.  I hadn’t planned on that kind of ride, but the rain had let up some and the sky was light behind the clouds; I wanted to get out from under the trees to see the white part, which seemed so hopeful to me. Hopeful is not the right word, though. I think I just wanted to know the sun was right there, even if I couldn’t see it. Also, I haven’t been on my bike since Thursday and when I don’t know what to with myself or my heart, I know I should move my body. So without thinking too much about it, lungs and legs worked up the side of the small mountain, which still feels weird to say instead of a giant hill even though I’ve been living out here for 14 years. I geared down and did silent fist pumps for the runners passing me on their way down the mountain, admiring their rock hard thighs and pacing. I smiled at the two big shaggy dogs tied to the side of the truck, probably waiting for their owner to finish taking a piss. Pine needles everywhere and still some orange and red and yellow leaves on a few trees.  I slowed down at the top and looked straight down Hawthorne below me and followed it to the west and to the thin stripe of white above the west hills. I felt like I was in a story book or a dream. Coasted almost the whole way home in the rain, which picked up, soaking my shoes and gloves. And now it’s dark.

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biking and committment and willingness and legs

November 15, 2012

Late night bike ride last night home from J’s. Amazingly dry, which was awesome, but the kind of cold that makes me shiver. Luckily, I had my glove liners and shoe covers with me. Learning curve lesson learned years ago: the right gear makes a big difference. Not that I want to talk about gear. For me, gear is the means to an end, which is why I like talking with gear heads, because I can glean valuable information on the best “means,” even if ultimately we are not really talking about the same thing. Anyway, I am especially psyched about riding last night because I really didn’t want to do it. So much so, that when I was riding home from work, I was conjuring up a list of all the reasons why I should drive my car to J’s: it was dark; I had some stomach cramps from gas; I had already ridden for the day via my commute to work; I had to go by the liquor store; it would take me at least 40 minutes to get to J’s and 40 to get home and I had a bunch of shit to do, like fill up the compost/yard waste bin and switch the outlet over for my new dryer and lift weights. It was a tempting list and yet, somehow when 6:30 rolled around I was in my saddle and pedaling down my street. I don’t know if that’s because I got all my shit done or it wasn’t raining or I thought of the list I made myself and posted about last month. I’d like to think it was about how I’m willing to experiment with committing to something. And how I want to concretely express my gratitude for things like the weather and my awesome bike and my body on my bike. I don’t think of myself as a bike rider, as much as someone who is willing to ride. So also, maybe I’m experimenting with willingness. Sometimes, I silently chant a mantra to myself when I ride, especially uphill. It goes: lungs, heart, legs, yes. And I try to picture each thing and how grateful I am for it’s ability to endure my on and off poor treatment and neglect. I used to do chant that all the time. Less now, but I pulled it out the other night for a long hill climb and really just loved my legs for a second.

I can see that for me, biking is biking, and also that biking is means to an bigger ends, which is probably not something that should be called an “ends.”


morning bike ride and hoosier thinking

November 8, 2012

Early morning, as in still dark out. Lifted weights. Fed cats. Listened to the tiniest bit of the news and remembered why I was glad I’ve not been listening to the news for the last several months. Rode to work in the dimmest light of dawn. Headband, cap and gloves on.  The dark and quiet felt good, though. They almost always do when it’s not pouring rain or freezing cold. Got into my office 5 minutes before 7am. No one else was in yet. The big door to the hallway outside was locked and I had to punch in the secret code. Punching in the code felt official, which in this case is a more fun “official” feeling than serious one; it’s just a code to a door to some offices that in the big picture, aren’t super important. Some secrets feel fun that way. Like if I could find a secret hidden corner on campus that no one ever goes to, under a canopy of trees, so when it was raining I could be outside and mostly stay dry.

Looking out the window at work it struck me that some trees have already lost all of their leaves and their branches look like winter. For a second I thought of trees in Indiana. I thought of walking around IU campus or near the square downtown. And then without thinking, I remembered driving from Monticello to Indy one Christmas when HL and I went home. The long stretches of flatness. The clumps of bare trees. The farm houses. The big quiet before the city. That was only the 2nd time I took a a girlfriend with me to my dad’s family’s big deal Christmas eve party and maybe the first time I spent Christmas morning with a girlfriend and her family. It was sweet and it was family in a good way.

Hmm . . . this is not what I thought I would be writing about this morning, but all of the sudden I find myself thinking of that time and the Lefflers and Sandy in particular. I am sure I wasn’t who Sandy thought HL would be with, but Sandy was good to me when HL and I were together, and I am so glad I got to know her a little bit.

HL and I didn’t have the same Hoosier experience, but we shared a Hoosier heart.

I have been thinking of my Hoosier heart lately, which is a metaphor for a lot of things and maybe I’ll try and write about it later.


saying yes

October 6, 2012

I feel like I’m trying to fit in as many late night bike rides as I possibly can before the rainy season hits. Because I know that I am going to miss doing this thing I love and I really fucking love it. Love it, like “secret joy,” except its not really a secret. Also, trying to ride as much as I can is a kind of great experiment with saying “yes” (love it and miss it deeply) instead of “no” (shut down to loving it and miss out on how amazing it it). Bike riding is a very low bar for that kind of experiment. Another foray into being more open hearted.

The whole “yes” idea reminds me of how when RU and I first got together, that was our thing, just saying “yes.”  “Our thing”  may not be the most accurate term, but it was how we approached the thing that was happening between us without over thinking too much, which is hard for over thinkers. I don’t save a lot of cards and ephemera like I used to when I was younger, but I do think I still have a small card that came with some  flowers that RU sent me the 2nd month we were dating on which she wrote “Yes!”

That’s funny that happened – that I wrote about that. It’s not what I set out to write about, but I’ve also been experimenting here with seeing where an idea or a thread leads. Its not unusual for it to be sentimental in some way.

I had meant to write about more about how much I love riding my bike and how I love how it makes makes me notice things around me and gets my brain working better. And how I really love feeling my body work, even when my legs feel like lead and its hard to breath. I’m not really the cheerleaderish type but some little voice inside is saying, “yay, your body works and yay, you’re working your body.”

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it’s gonna seem like i’m talking a lot about riding my bike but there’s a bigger point

August 31, 2012

Day 11. Surprise! I’m still blogging. What the heck and also thank you Colleen for the encouragement. I will try not to make you sorry you encouraged me to keep posting.

The roads were almost empty riding my bike to work this morning. A sure sign of a holiday or an upcoming one, as is the case with Labor day.  I used to work for a company that didn’t recognize Labor day as a holiday, which seemed absolutely absurd. Luckily, my current employer has more holiday sense. I like riding on empty roads, although on a work day I get a little bit of a post apocalyptic-where is everybody-feeling. I have an amazing ability to imagine disaster.

Morning bike rides are starting to turn cooler. Evenings too. One night last week, it was cold enough that on my ride home I actually wore my wool gloves. I was glad I had the gloves with me, but I felt a little indignant just putting them on, like “no way, wool in August.” I started pedaling along and I couldn’t get warmed up (it didn’t help that I had on shorts) and I immediately started thinking about riding when its dark and rainy and cold and how I want to ride more this fall and winter, but it sucks riding when its dark and rainy and cold. It was only a 20 minute ride home but my mind totally reeled off into this story of miserable riding, even though I wasn’t  miserable right then. It was just chillier out than I wanted it to be, and probably a little later too, but nothing at all, not even close to what it’s like to ride  in the winter. My mind turned a completely ok bike ride into an unpleasant trip and started souring me on winter riding, even though summer riding isn’t over.

The reason why I’m going on about this, is it’s such a good illustration of the bullshit unhelpful thinking that can cause unnecessary suffering, as the Buddhists would say. And it is amazing to me how quick that kind of unhelpful thinking can arise in me and how once its started, it is a struggle to get some space from it. The thinking becomes reality, even overshadowing the real reality that’s happening. I’ve been noticing more and more when it happens.