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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Garrett and Max foffing off behind Blue Heron

That's Andrea telling Garrett to do a Keo spin. That's me laughing like a dork.

messenger bags and 27" wheels

Much to my torment, my younger brother is far more hip than I. See how he speaks on the phone with much sass:

He's a voracious reader, human Rock Catalogue and accomplished orator. To top it all off, he has the oldest messenger bag I've ever seen:

That patchy brown and green diamond is an old REI logo, circa 1985. Features include Velcro loops for attaching it to your handlebars, a zippered outer pocket, and single compression strap:

He rescued the bag from my mother's house. It was left behind by my cousin when he moved to Seattle many years ago (along with a 27" French 10-speed, which I now have). The strap was broken and the corner ripped. Like all good Punk Rockers, my brother is a seamster, and made the necessary repairs himself:

Speaking of 27" wheels:

I met this fella on campus yesterday. As you can see, the wheels are mismatched. Why? Because fixed wheels come only in the modern 700c variety, and 27" fronts are a dime a dozen. He doesn't care how it looks; he just wants to ride. And that's very hip.

The frame, by the way, is an old Rudge. He sprayed it purple, but left the head badge:

Max is another chap who could care less about the diameter of his front wheel:

His frame is also peculiar. He told me he found it in his mom's garage, and it has the strangest lugs I've ever seen.

I rode with him from campus to the Wandering Goat for a show. I was completely unable to keep pace with him on the Silver Bullett, which has a low, 4.1 gain ratio. Max's was more like 5.6, and he utterly smoked me.

The 'Goat, by the way, is the place to find beautiful bikes and people on a Saturday night:

Friday, November 28, 2008

In the red on Black Friday

The last time I'll park here for a while:

Today was the last day PedEx delivered the mail for Green Gear. Tough times have forced the makers of the Bike Friday to cut costs. Nonetheless, they're having a Black Friday sale:

That's Ruthy Kanagy, travel system consultant. She leads bicycle tours of Japan. She's even published a guide. Order your black Bike Friday direct before midnight Sunday to get 15% off!

Back at CAT, there was plenty of activity outside:

Five college students had rented most of our for-sale used bikes (only $3 an hour!) to go for a ride instead of shopping on their black friday. They asked me to recommend a sandwich shop. I sent them to Monroe St. Cafe.

And some video from polo yesterday:

And a photo of the offending skid patch that made me flat on the way home:

The tire was a Panaracer Pasela, 700x28; a great winter tire. I swapped it for the only spare tire around the house, a Soma Everwear 700x23:

The Soma is narrow and treadless. I rode around on it a little and it's definitely ill-suited for winter. Even riding over a dewy strip of paint, the rear end gets squirrelly.

Gobble Gobble!

My Turkey Day: 

Began with a trip to the store for emergency ingredients and a pilgrimage to the former location of 5 Star Video with my brother. Once the magical place from whence wonders such as Dead Alive came, it died with VHS and has been replaced by "El Corral."

After dinner, I watched my mother and cat nap on the sofa:

Swung past home to swap the pedals and wheels from the Silver Bullett to the Schwinn for polo:

And done:

Attendance was thin but adequate for full 3v3 games:

Friend came to watch:

Garrett had to adjust his chain tension, which meant getting out an allen wrench. He has sliding vertical dropouts, which, unlike nice, easy horizontal dropouts, are mean and difficult. I laughed at him and took a picture:

It's been awhile since I've ridden the polo bike, and couldn't resist a quick snap:

I ended up flatting out on the way home.

My messenger bag is probably actually not bigger

Went to Garrett and Andrea's to share some music and had to strap a wireless router to the outside of my Mini Metro. And all I had inside was the usual roadside repair gear (spare tube, multi-tool, etc.), a pair of rain pants, jacket, laptop and three beers. It's a paltry 1000 cubic inches.

This is the one I want. The XL is 4620 cu. in. — big enough for an adventurous human passenger!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

the earliest day of the week [update three]

Stopped by the 'ol UO Bookstore on the way to CAT to pick up a digital camera. Here's its maiden shot:
My commuter, "The Silver Bullett."

With Thanksgiving falling on Thursday, the Weekly came out today. This tied up the Tri-Hauler and both of the new Long-Hauls (known as "number one" and "number two"). This left me with "Black Beauty."

It's an older bike. The aluminum rack is lighter than the fiberglass container — until you put a big plastic tub in it. Also, there's no "dualdrive" system, meaning it employs a front derailer instead of an internal 3-speed to multiply the ratios the rear derailer offers.

But it's charming, in a low-tech way. At least I got to use a trailer:

It's the Skinner City Farm Hauler. Normally, it's only used to collect compost from Morning Glory, Sweet Life and Laughing Planet on Tuesday mornings. But today, equipment is spread thin, and I need to carry more than that little aluminum rack allows.

Proof of compost:

Alas, when I arrived at Hummingbird, no orders were ready to go out. So I went off the clock for breakfast at Keystone:

I had the Vegan Power Breakfast, with tempeh, mushrooms, spinach and peanut sauce. And two coffees. It's hard to think of a better way to spend thirty minutes.

As a bonus, Mikey Mike rolled in just as I was sitting down:

Or should I say Sprocketman? Former racing-cyclist, inner-city-youth-employing-lawnmower-shop-owner, PedEx manager/driver, Mikey is a self-named superhero and champion bullshitter.

Like a hurricane, a conversation with Mikey is difficult to describe after the fact. I'll mostly rely on photos here:

He put on my helmet and wrapped his arm around an unaquainted woman wearing only red and white.

She didn't mind.

I finished eating, and left him to shine on, gloriously.

I returned to Hummingbird at 9:30 a.m. to find four orders ready to go.

Here are the first two, in-trailer, representing about 300 pounds — a modest load, appropriate for my weakened state. I set out for the south end of town around 9:45 — about three hours and twenty dollars of potential pay later than the day was supposed to begin. But — extra time to wake up, a shave, riding to work after sunrise, and a hearty breakfast with two coffees and some lively conversation — all that was probably worth about twenty bucks.

About a block from the first order's destination, I came across this sad sight:

Some poor soul has been using their old, probably non-functional SUV to store an overage of material possessions. You may not be able to tell from the photo, but the floor, seats, dashboard are piled high with random boxes, envelopes and assorted junk.

Then somebody else decided they needed some of this stuff and broke the window, sprinkling glass across the street.

As you can see, the "wheels of change" are turning, as there is a chalk mark on the tire and a yellow piece of paper under the wiper. The paper is probably a warning, written in stern language, informing the owner of the vehicle that, if they don't move it more than a block within the next 30 days, the city will clean up the mess for them.

But I'm not bitter.

My spirits picked up when I saw this splash of blue:

Love the basket and the matching white accents.

En route to my third delivery, a bungee cord popped off the trailer and wound itself around the non-drive side of my rear wheel.

I managed to stop the bike before it was seriously damaged. As you can see, there was enough force to snap the bungee.

Back at base for lunch, to find Andrew had made a new bike:

Apparently, he had traded Jeremiah his shotgun for this 60cm Trek frame and came to CAT to throw on the components. It's built in classic Hillbilly-Andrew form: knobby tires, camo bartape.

It's pretty sweet, but hard to appreciate the lack of clips. Supposedly, Andrew has shoes to go with those SPDs mounted on the underside of those platforms, but I've never seen them on his feet.

Garrett rode it, too:

Garrett rides Andrew's new (old) Trek from alexander hongo on Vimeo.

OK, fun lunch over. On to my afternoon mail route. Because the Weekly was delivered from the press late, Dana didn't have time to stop by Clothing4All downtown. We run stuff back and forth between them and LovEmbroidery out Highway 99. So I had to make one extra stop to pick up a package from C4A instead of grabbing it from the transfer shelf in the PedEx room at CAT.

Ususally, it's just a couple of shirts. Not today:

It was a long, un-aerodynamic ride out to LovE. But when I arrived, I was treated to the amusing vision of a Mountain Dew biplane:


On my way to Green Gear, I became frustrated with the uprightness of Black Beauty. I felt too upright, too compressed between the handlebars and saddle. I stopped at a park and made a quick adjustment:

Flipped the upright bar ends down to make crappy drops. Less weight on my rear, my back gets to stretch out, and I'm more aero! BTW, those kids in the background are always playing football when I pass through there. Overhear the best smack-talk.

The old Green Gear sign at Bike Friday. After dropping the mail at USPS on Tyinn, I stopped at Eugene Fastener to pick up some bolts for on will call for HPM.

Again, I made it back to CAT with time to take out the recycling and snap an emo-myspace self-portrait in the bathroom:

Here you also see my new toy, a Canon A1000is. She's a real beaut, aint she? After I clocked out, I still had to energy to true up my rear wheel a bit:

Sean had finished the Weekly's downtown route, and was installing some bar-end shifters on the mean Surly he'd just bought from John.
Our helmets are the same but different:

On my way out the door, I spied CAT's director/fearless leader, Jan VanderTuin, acting as the shop's IT director:

That's the computer the staff uses to log its hours. I had noticed it wasn't turning on this morning, but failed to do anything about it. As you can see, he's using a hose connected to our shops compressor to blast its guts free of dust. What a guy; I'm on my way home and the boss is dusting.

Tonight, I'll just write my hours on a scrap of paper.

the earliest day of the week [update two]

So after another call in to Dana, it looks like Jay's doing my route. So I'll just report in at 7:50 when the shop opens to see what else can be done (there's always something). Until then, I'll shave my scrappy face and ice my gimpy back.

the earliest day of the week [update]

I just phoned Dana, our general "a.m." route rider to make sure I'm working today. Though I am, the paper itself is delayed. There's nothing for us to deliver until 7:30 at the earliest. This gives me some time to wake up with a quick gear check.

Cold-weather messenger gear, budget version:

A cheap pair of bib shorts. Think padded-spandex bike shorts with integrated spandex suspenders. The straps prevent the shorts from slipping — and keep your nipples warm and un-chafed.

Spandex arm warmers. So I can go short-sleeve without shedding a whole layer.

Spandex 3/4 shorts or "knickers." Yeah, they're the CHROME ones. Yeah, they're probably overpriced.

Spandex cycling jersey. No I'm not a rabid Quacker. I got it at a discount at my old job, the UO Bookstore.

The organic-cotton PedEx tee.

Goofy wool sweater from St. Vincent DePaul.

Lightweight windbreaker. When I get to CAT, I'll swap this for a waterproof one with out logo.

WOOL SOCKS. They make life bearable. I will never have to feign a smile if my parents give me socks again, as long as they're wool.

Nasty, beat-up old Adidas. Overdue for an upgrade here.

Waterproof, breathable pants. I'm not going to put these on unless it's actually raining, but they're coming with me.

Helmet. It's a Bern Watts, hand-painted by Aaron Sullivan.