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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

the last day

My last day at Pedaller's Express was pretty fun. I needed to make some equipment substitutions, but it didn't rain and I was on time.

Arriving at the Weekly office with other PedEx-ers, pre-dawn. Dana's on Long Haul #2 for a.m./p.m., Ja's using the Tri-Hauler for the campus route, and I'm on Black Beauty with a trailer for downtown/Whiteaker. Numbers vary every week based on special events and such, but we deliver about 8,000 copies between the three routes.

Signing off bundles for the first of three legs (50 papers per bundle; in this case, 1,875 papers). The first leg of my route is the heaviest. It hits the bus station and the bars right off the bat.

Click the photo to enlarge. You'll see the kid on the left's sign reads "JUST CLOWNIN AROUND." He was standing outside the Hilton on 6th & Oak, wearing a clown nose, in full hobo-chic. At eight in the morning. On new year's eve. Love this town.

Scrawlings on the periodicals rack at the Red Barn on 4th & Blair. I like the first half better and try to read it every time I stop there.

Last visit to Eugene Fastener. I'll really miss their impeccable service. If you ever need a nut, bolt, etc., go there. Or go if you work in retail and would like to be inspired.

"Hey, are you gathering firewood on your bicycle? Can I take your picture?" She just laughed. Be this woman and know goodness.

Final assignment was to take the little Swift Folder and the huge ten-foot trailer to pick up three 4x8-foot sheets of 3/4-inch plywood. Pretty fun. The worker who brought it out on a forklift and helped me strap it down couldn't stop saying "sweet!"

Bikes of Eugene:

Spotted outside Farmer's Union, 5th & Olive. Very interesting: BMX frame, coaster brake, suspension fork, super-tall seatpost, stem, handlebars. Tape everywhere. No lock.

Outside Grower's Market, Amtrak parking lot. Really old Schwinn with many original parts. Smashed but probably semi-functional basket. Unembarrassed.

Finally, a couple fun videos:

Andrew's practical, comfy fixed gear. Note handy basket and high handlebars. Love the flag (his truck bears the American stars and stripes).

Tom's ski bike. This man lives other people's dreams.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Monday, December 29, 2008

my bag runneth over

Today it became official. Wednesday is my last day at CAT. As we know, times are tough in America. Nothing personal. It's the economy, stupid.

So I made some preparations.

The food bank on 7th & Van Buren. Take a number, fill out a form, make anti-establishment chitchat with the other patrons. When they call you up, hand over the form, sign another one, and basically take as much food as you can carry.

On my way to University of Oregon Human Resources to pick up some applications, I stopped at the bookstore to chat with some friends. I met Gwen and her practical cruiser. Coaster brake, kickstand, chainguard, fenders, wide saddle, low top-tube, basket, comfy handlebars.

Also, neat skull accents:

So anyway,

this bag is full of stuff.

Including job applications.

And free food.

Cookies, granola, bratwurst, yogurt, bread, beans, peanut butter, beef stew, rice, beets, potatoes, canned salmon.

Not five loaves of bread and two fishes, but enough for five thousand men, beside women and children.

They might only touch the hem of a messenger bag: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Shots that didn't make it into other posts.

Thrifting with Nic, the Schwinn and the Rainbow @ Eugene Jeans. 13th & Oak.

He found this neat windbreaker.

Courtney's woodblock.

New coffee table book.

Hudson's garbage bike.

Sean's 75th Anniversary Puch. In the rain...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

moms are great

But a mom who reads your blog is greater.

She got me a bag. A sweet, huge, bag. I was actually surprised, even though I may have said something about needing a bigger bag in a previous post.

It's a Timbuk2 Classic Messenger X-Large. Much more affordable than the Seagull, and still holds a lot of stuff. The Seagull XL is 4,620 cubic inches. Timbuk2 is crafty about their bag volumes; they rate volume in TPRCV, or Toilet Paper Roll Capacity Value, and the dimensions are measured as the bag lays flat. My new bag is rated at 20 TPRCV.

To bridge the gap, I know my old Chrome Mini Metro is 1000 cu. in. and holds about five or six rolls.

The requisite "exploded view."

Top-left are bags of dried organic fruit from Hummingbird Wholesale to hand out on this day of giving: three pounds dried mangoes fillets (Mexico), three pounds dried nectarine halves (Washington), six pounds deglet noor dates (California). I had originally brought these in a big grocery bag.

The rest of the stuff had been in the orange backpack. Socks, razor, patchkit, multitool, minipump, Grado SR80 headphones (Thanks dad!), external hard drive, Campy coffee table book, Kesey novel (Thanks, Hudson!), laptop computer, mess of wire.

Everything fit in the bag, with room for a change of clothes and a towel. My brother had his own way of testing the capacity:

a reader made my christmas merrier... sending me an email! I spied local Mike Seager taking the lane on 29th & Willamette a few days ago. Caught and chatted with him and gave him my card. He sent me a link to a fun video he helped make. Skip the two minute mark to see him making heroically bad cow jokes, then watch the rest.

He also knowledge-checked me on my advice for riding in the snow:

I read what you said in your blog about riding in the snow - and I have say it's just what you are used to. I worked for the Bikes At Work people...for over 2 years pulling 9 foot 600lb trailers of recycling in the snow and ice, usually in single digit temperatures. I just had huge knobby snow tires and got used to my front tire plowing (like a ski) while putting all my weight on my rear. I also had to learn to never lean into turns in the winter.

I'd like to see a video of that.

So Mike's a prety neat guy. Read the whole email here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

when Wednesday is Thursday

Local arts and entertainment tabloid, the Eugene Weekly, normally comes out on Thursdays. This week, Wednesday is Thursday because Thursday is a holiday.

Today, Pedaller's Express delivered just shy of 8,000 copies; fewer than usual, as the University is out of session. I did the downtown/west side route, or route "C," or "the big route," dropping close to 5,000 papers at about 60 spots.

Here's a few of the things I saw today.

Contrasting cargo vehicles under the awning at the Eugene Hilton. 7th & Oak.

Charming transit in the style of the Schwinn Sting Ray. Oregon Art Supply, 10th & Pearl.

Actually made by Huffy, and they call it the "Desert Rose." Classy.

Waterproof headwear, on a budget.

Pear plant planter in parking lot. Looks like you can have it both ways.

Did the compost run at the end of the day. Morning Glory gave us seventeen buckets of food waste!

Happy Hollandaise!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

seen on the street

Windowsill on 13th & Oak.

Or is it art? Willamette & Broadway.

Bikes get the best parking. 8th & Oak.

Best place in town for nuts and bolts? Eugene Fastener. 5th & Wilson.

Top of the bin after my first day doing the "a.m./p.m." route.

High-vis fixed-gear in what appears to be snow trim. Knobby cyclocross tires, low gear ratio, fender, wide saddle, platform pedals, high handlebars. 8th & Willamette.

Looks like it's a Schwinn.
Also note: fender attached using electrical tape. Easy, effective.

Practical cruiser with fun paint. Coaster brake, chainguard, fender, wide saddle, low top-tube, high handlebars, basket, horn. West Park St.

Dig those purple rims.

Monday, December 22, 2008

After 15.13 hours of darkness,

we may be a little bedsore, stiff, inflexible.

If you use iTunes, there's a good free series called Yogamazing, featuring Steve Carrell as Yoga Instructor Chaz.

Variety of highly specialized routines. Some are for anybody: "for the Neck and Shoulders," "for Knees and Thighs," "for Better Memory." Others are more specialized: "for Runners," "for Golfers," "for Digestion," "for Colds."

If you're the kind of person who can spend electronic money for electronic media, you may also buy previous episodes online. "For Flexibility" and "Warrior Flow" are my favs.

Okay it's not really Steve Carrell. Or is it? Do an episode and decide for yourself.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

BFF part two

The welcome screen that plays before each set of films.

Day two of the Bicycle film festival in Portland was fun, fun, fun. The films were inspiring (The Way Bobby Sees It) exciting (Fast Friday, Macaframa), educational (The Six-Day Bicycle Races), to name a select few. Most fit into the "exciting" category.

Check out the energy in the crowd:

Sadly, I had expected an even stronger response to the whole shebang in progressive, bikey Portland. The BFF's presence in PDX had been stronger in the past. I spoke Zoe Schack, the promoter, about setting things up in Portland this year and last:

And it was a really fun event, but it could have been funner. Brendt Barbur, the "father" of the festival, told me how well it's been doing since its inception:

Maybe with a promoter on the ground in Portland, they'll do better next year. Better yet, maybe we can bring it to Eugene; the town is smaller, but I feel the cycling community is more tightly knit here. There's so much crossover between the commuters, racers, fixed-gear riders, hippie cruisers and such, it would be easy to sell out the Bijou. Not to mention the connection between cyclists and artists here...

If you're so inclined, check out the Bicycle Film Festival contact page and make something beautiful happen.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

staying strong in a week of winter

This is my favorite kind of bike, the archetypal "Eugene Bike," built for pure utility. Just a random old mountain bike serving as a commuter I saw outside the Kiva.

Note the people's front fender. It's a piece of white corrugated plastic zip-tied to the downtube. Also, in the handy basket, there's a plastic bottom that bestows the basket itself with fender functionality. Also charming are the requisite bungee cord and low-cost skater helmet with hand-painted high-vis triangle. Although I don't like cable locks, the one used here attests the machine's inconspicuous nature; the best anti-theft mechanism is a cheap bike.

The most expensive part in these pictures is probably the rear tire, which is a good part to spend on since it's what connects the bike to the ground and makes it go.

Speaking of drive-wheel tires,

This studded miracle is what made it possible for me to deliver food on the Tri this week. Yeah, it's a NOKIA, like the phones. Apparently, those nutty Finns formerly dealt in wood and rubber as well (thanks, Wikipedia). The deep tread and metal studs allowed me to move the three-wheeled beast through snow and ice with relative ease, even under load.

Hills such as this were a problem, though. Firstly, the tire's outer diameter is larger, raising the gain ratio. Even in bottom gear, climbing was a workout. Second, with the drive wheel in the front and the load in the back, climbing over ice was nigh impossible. At one point I had to get off and push.

Lesson: even if you have a snow tire, don't try to tackle icy hills with a 700-pound bike.

Customers this week were reliably aghast that I was working in this weather. When I told one about the hill situation, he gave me this. "Renshenfengwanjiang." The box contained ten little bottles of flavored honey-syrup-stuff. Refreshing and invigorating when mixed with hot water, tea, or whatever. Perks!

At the end of the Hummingbird route, I swung back past the Kiva to pick up a bunch of boxes. Each holds a dozen 16-ounce jars. By bringing them back to Hummingbird, they get re-used instead of recycled. Hoo-rah.

Almost always see Andrew at lunchtime on Wednesdays, since his girlfriend works at the Keystone down the street. He showed off his snow bike. Old Schwinn with coaster brake, banana seat, "ape hanger" handlebars, and a nice, big bell.

Speaking of fresh builds, EBW has put together a polo bike for sale or rent.

Yeah, it's pretty fresh.

Rear brake and a nice, low gear ratio. I think it's 28-20 or so.

Thursday afternoon, I rode along with Dana to learn the "p.m." route. Basically, it's the afternoon half of the legit, downtown, big-city-style courier route. Lots of mail, legal documents and blueprints. Phone calls, addresses, receptionists, signatures, and rush orders, oh my! I even got to ride in a freight elevator!

It was kind of a big deal for me, and I thought we looked really pro riding around on matching Long Hauls.

Thursday night follows Thursday afternoon, which, of course, means POLO! I rode there with Jeff, and it was snowing well:

A few snaps, courtesy of Rose:

I took one nasty fall thanks to playing in clipless shoes, but it was a pretty good night for polo. Attendance was good despite the weather; even some BMX dudes came out to play. Another video: