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:

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