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Friday, February 27, 2009

I spent $11.50 today.

Which is a lot, for me. But they were all worthy purchases.

My roomies and I decided to splurge on breakfast and went to the Keystone Cafe. Six dollars got me two coffees and a slice of blackberry pie. Plus a bite of Garrett's banana-buckwheat pancakes and Andrea's "Monster" omelet.

There's always a neat bike parked outside the Keystone. This Peugeot roadie was wearing wide tires, platform pedals, comfy handlebars and a leather saddle.

And a fine example of the recycle-bin-to-the-rescue fender.

Garrett went to work and Andrea asked if I would ride with her out to Jo-Ann Fabrics. We pedaled a few blocks to the river path and followed it to a spot where you can drops out to River Road just south of the Goodwill. That's where we saw this cool cat and his mean handcycle. Don't miss his American flag up in the corner of the photo.

A few minutes later, we arrived.

Another nice commuter locked up outside. This biker knows how to spend money wisely: note the heavy-duty Kryptonite U-lock, recycled seat cover and fun horn.

While Andrea looked for practical things like needles and curtain fabric, I browsed for skinsuit material. This stuff looks prime for a Mario Cipollini-inspired getup.

I liked this seafoam/fuscia combo, too. Sadly, the photo doesn't really do justice to the hotness of the colors. I found a nylon/spandex remnant for $5 that will make a pair of arm warmers.

Leaving, I saw this sticker on the door. For some reason, it made me laugh.

We decided to pop in to the nearby dollar store for a few more laughs.

We discovered "ginormous" has officially entered the American lexicon.

Consider this: why buy a $50 camera when you can by fifty $1 cameras?

People Crackers, "The People Dogs Love to Eat!" Seems fair.

I spent 50¢ on a giant tootsie roll and ate it on the way home.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Polo night!

Thursday is my favorite day of the week because a couple dozen kid-at-heart bikers gather under the Wash/Jeff bridge b-ball courts to play polo. I think the break in weather will draw a good crowd tonight. I'm extra-stoked because this is the next-to-last night before we try to send a team to the tourney in Portland.

Also, just added two new links to the sidebar:

Legit Bike Polo <---- Boston polo blog. Dorkily good instructional videos on mallet- and disc-building.
The League of Bike Polo
<---- Bike polo forums. Nitty-gritty deets and smack talk.

See y'all under the bridge!


Fixed 3 from Charge Bikes on Vimeo.
Just saw this a few days ago at BikeBlogNYC and haven't been able to stop playing it in my head. It's not just a trick video; it's a little movie with a story and everything. The tidy little interview at the end really cinches it up.

Inspired? Make a bike movie and submit it to the BFF by March 7. I'm working on one right now.

Who knows—mayble they'll even come to Eugene this year.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Stopping by Campus on a Rainy Afternoon

Whose tent this is, I think I know.
A Bike Loan Program of UO;
I saw some students stopping here
for coffee, pastries—free, f'sho.

The bikey people came to hear
Commuters' questions, hopes and fears.
Mechanics yanked tire's tubes to take
them to a puddle that was near
and bubble-check for leaks that make
them difficult to air-inflate.
As rain did splash off hoods and seep
through denim, stopping students spake.
The tent was lovely, dry and free,
But they have bottom lines to meet.
So e-mail, call or write, toot sweet
To keep this program on its feet.

Seriously, though. The program is nearing the end of its pilot year, and the University can pick it up or cancel it.

Right now, the ASUO is forming a committee to allocate over $100,000 for sustainability programs. Though several thousand dollars have been promised to Campus Recycling, the student government may choose to withhold many monies for future projects.

Less than one fifth of the fund would sustain the Bike Loan Program for an entire year, during which it could be absorbed into other budgets. The program could die without financial support from the University, and this is the most direct, appropriate source of funding this year.

I asked Program Coordinator Briana Orr why they don't just charge more and fund themselves—all equipment is loaned on refundable deposits, and students use the shop space for free. She pointed out the program's purpose is to support students who can't afford to buy a cheap bike; that by making cycling accessible, they can better propagate active, healthy, sustainable transport.

So if you like the idea of students riding bikes or if you're a student who rides a bike, tell the students who decide where the money goes where you think they should put it.

Think: without this program, this fella would be walking:
With any luck, he won't bother to unsuspend his license.

OK. For enduring my poem, rant and unspectacular video interview, here's a clip of me falling off a little kid's bike:
"Get the detail on the ah, the chainstays there—the seatstays. See that?"


Now go write a letter.

A bit of weather seems to have blown in,

and the streets of Eugene are wet, slippery, dirty.

The cloud-cover keeps the wind down, warming the air, sweetening it. And when the sun pops out low in the sky and the street shines and lights up the undersides of everything, I'm glad to be out riding a bike.

If you bike by the UO campus between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. today and need your fenders adjusted or brakes tightened or just want to come and be appreciated, their Bike Loan Program is doing an appreciation day in front of Lillis Hall. You know, the one with all the solar panels. It's on the north side of 13th, just east of Kincaid.

If you're feeling cheeky, tell the mechanic on hand, "Ummmm, I think my tire is bent."

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Let's go ride bikes!

The banner art from

Got a kid? Like bikes? Want that kid to like bikes as much as you do?

The weather looks cool and mild for today's Kidical Mass in Eugene. Meet at Monroe Park at 3 p.m. and tool around with the tots! Click through for more info and art.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Bicycle Appreciation Day Photos

Just received this public link to Sreang Hok's photoset from the previous Bicycle Appreciaton Day. Click through and get a feel for what's up. See my earlier post for deets.

free time

Being unemployed, I get to structure my time as I choose. Last week, I was sitting outside the 'Goat, having a coffee, reading Savage Love and watching the train pass, when my friend Sammi called:
I want to get Kyle a bike for Valentine's day and it's only two days away! Help me!
Never one to turn down a lady in need, I assured her we would be able to make it happen, hung up the phone, and went back to my coffee.

The next day, we set out to buy a bike. There's Sammi, being all Hollywood on her cell. The red bike is hers, but the sweet Nutcase helmet is borrowed.

She picked it up from the UO Bike Loan Program for a refundable $5 deposit. That's their resident mechanic, Noah, guarding his hanging helmet plant with a mullet and a sneer. He's actually quite friendly and approachable.

Sammi and I were going to ride five miles into Springfield to look at a couple mountain bikes from Craigslist, but found this tall road frame from a friend at a local bike shop. She paid $50 for the 59cm steel skeleton with fork and headset. We picked out lights, a bottom bracket, crankset, seatpost, stem, handlebars and grips at Eugene Bicycle Works for another $70.

After digging the remaining parts out of my garage, I put it all together and ended up with what you see above...And I got these sweet BMX platform pedals from my homie Ian's parts box. He was kind enough to hook it up for free! What an awesome guy.

Kyle was more than pleased. His car died a few months ago, and he's been hoofing it everywhere with a bum ankle. We set him up with big 27" wheels, which have a low rolling resistance, a 5-speed rear, a small single front ring and short cranks for easy spinning. Taking a page from the UO BLP's book, I made sure he had fenders and a rack as well.

While in the garage, I started another project. Our mail carrier was slipping our post through a slot in the door, as we didn't have a mailbox.

So I made one. Both items are from Goodwill. The yellow box contained a bunch of maps and must have been a promotional item for National Geographic subscribers. I glued the little blue box on top for spillover.

Here's someone's sweet cargo setup, spotted outside Sundance.

It's an old Trek road frame, with almost entirely custom components. Note the poppin' yellow risers and hot pink fenders. The rear brake is disconnected, but the front sports a big fat disc.

UO Bike Loan Program update

Just received an email from UO Bike Loan Program Coordinator Briana Orr:
Hey Alexander,

I just saw your blog! Thanks so much, it's a good piece. Just a couple corrections for you:

We only received $18,000 from ASUO over-realized funds, and $5,000 from Clif Bar & Co. last year for the pilot
And the barn is only open Saturdays during the Summer.

FYI - Bicycle Appreciation Day is happening again next Wednesday February 25th 10 - 2 pm in front of Lillis Business Center. We have volunteers, mechanics, food and live music lined up!
In my previous post, I erroneously reported the program got its start with $60,000, so I'm impressed and encouraged to report that the whole thing came about with just $23,000 in seed money! Now mark your calendar for Bicycle Appreciation Day!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Corvallis' bike scene is bigger than Eugene's bike scene.

Or at maybe it's just knit tighter. I was there for an alleycat Saturday, and I'd like to thank everybody I saw in that beautiful city for a terrific weekend. You all know who you are. Special thanks to these guys:

Eilif Knutson and Carl Gurney, Corvallis bike warriors.

This is Eilif's front door:

The tandem used to be his father's, and spent much of its life lashed to the side of a boat. Hence the rope on the handlebars and all the rust. Knutson says he's working on turning it into a fixed gear, which is a good, silly idea.

A closeup of the sign on his door. Knutson works for a farm and has a lot of free time in the off-season to work as a freelance bike consultant-mechanic. Note the non-monetary option for a flat fix.

The Gandhi quote is real. Knutson is largely responsible for brining bike polo to Eugene. Back in January 2008, he trucked mallets, goals, bikes, players and a mobile court here every Thursday, until we collected our own equipment.

The art is his own work; he's been professionally mentored in classical illustration. The flier on the right is for Gurney's Valentine's day alleycat, or "Valleycat."

Carl Gurney showed me his trailer the morning after the race (I spent the night on his sofa).

It's welded together from four rear triangles. Gurney works at at Corvallis Cyclery, and his garage is lined with bikes and tools, featuring a frame jig and zero cars. He also won the previous alleycat in Corvallis, which is why he organized Valleycat; local tradition dictates the winner of each alleycat must organize the next.

I rode to the race with Eilif, his neighbor, Aaron Groves, and two friends from Eugene, Ian Summers and Sarah Rose. Here we are outside interzone, an organic coffee house in downtown Corvallis.

The Valleycat was more fun than I had imagined possible. We met up at the gazebo in Central Park at seven. There were 25 racers on 10 teams of two or three. I teamed up with Aaron and a cool dude from Eugene named Andrew, who had already raced earlier in the day. Ours was the only all-fixed team, and we called ourselves "Bromantic Tragedy." We won by two minutes.

Our post-race paraphernalia, tossed at Carl's feet: three valentines and a dumpster bagel.

The valentines are from a checkpoint at interzone, at which racers wrote valentines to one another. Mine reads: "You make my head spin like a pair of 165 cranks." The bagel was part of a dual-duty manifest item, called "dinner and a movie."

My left hand. "Happy go lucky," "I've loved you so long," and whatever's scrawled on my wrist are the titles of the movies playing at the downtown cinema at 9:00. "VBIKE" is a code, whose letters we had to collect from the insides of newspaper boxes.

Of course, I don't have any photographic evidence of the best checkpoint, which was getting married on the steps of the downtown cathedral. Racers had to remove their front wheels, then exchange vows and wheels. We even got a certificate as proof.

With the exception of a long drag race to the manifest pickup, all the stops were pretty close together, with racers passing one another frequently, exchanging whoops and hollers.

About a dozen of us went to a bar afterward.

There's my teammate, Aaron on the left. He's fast, and will have to organize the next alleycat in Corvallis.

Eilif's in the middle. He, by the way, is starting up a fixed gear freestyle night on Mondays in Corvallis. Meetup at interzone after the bike shops close.

At right is Eilif's teammate, Sarah Wright. She and a few others have just started a bike co-op at the edge of the OSU campus, in the student sustainability center near the corner of 15th and Western. They're open 10-5 Fridays and Saturdays, with free workshops from 12-4 Sundays. For now, there's no membership fee, but she says they're having a meeting today with "the money group." At present, funds are generated by selling refurbished bicycles. Wright is really excited about the operation. She wants you to come the the Sunday workshop and says, "You might just learn something or be able to share something." For info, call: 541.740.9985.

Finally, another fine portrait of Mr. Gurney:

Keep it spinnin' Carl.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

students for bikes for students

A week ago today, I went to a UO senate meeting.

For the better part of two hours, this was my reality: a dozen young people sitting around a table covered in laptops, arguing in a highly stylized fashion.

Occasionally, the monotony would be broken by presenters from student groups: the veteran's association, the debate team, the linguistics association. In fact, my purpose in attending was one such group's presentation.

Outdoor Program Coordinator Dan Geiger and Bike Loan Program Coordinator Briana Orr were there to represent the UO Bike Loan Program. In its "pilot" year, the program has fully refurbished 50 bicycles and loaned them to students for a fully-refundable $65 deposit, built a comprehensive maintenance shop in the Outdoor Programs building, and organized numerous workshops and events.

All of this, as well as compensation for a full staff, was accomplished with $18,000 in over-realized university funds and $5,000 from Clif Bar & Co. With plans for more workshops, day rentals, weekend bike trips, and a transition from a fully-refundable deposit to a smaller deposit and a fee, the program will be more able to sustain itself in the future.

However, as it transitions from pilot state, the program requires liquid funds. Fortunately, it is an ideal candidate for university dollars allocated toward energy tax credits. This is why Geiger and Orr were patiently waiting their turn to be heard in a crowded conference room at the top of the student union building past 10 p.m. last Wednesday. After two hours of waiting, my patience ran out, but I was able to contact Orr afterward to ask how it went:

The presentation was well received. All of the senators agreed that they wanted to fund the program, but they also wanted to make the Energy Tax Credit funding available for all programs and students to apply for equally. So although we didn't get funding on Wednesday, when they figure out the logistics, we will be able to apply. I'm confident that we will be a good competitor for that pot of money.

I also pulled her aside for a few questions on video:

Key points from Orr:

UO students should ride bikes for the same reasons as I mentioned - protecting the global and local environment, to stay healthy. Also, it is easier to bike around campus than drive around campus - and much easier to find a space on a bike rack. It's more fun than driving; you can smile or wave at your friends as you ride by.

Students should loan a bike from us because it's easier than bringing a bike from home, especially if your home is in across the country or overseas. Also, it is more sustainable than buying a new bicycle because ours are recycled from DPS. We also make it easy because we provide everything you need to bicycle in Eugene - a helmet, lock, lights, and fenders.

Right on! Ride a bike because it's more fun and it keeps you in touch!

Visit the UO Bike Loan Program's website, or drop in at "the barn" on the northeast corner of 18th & University during shop hours:

Mon: 9 am - 2 pm
Thu: 12 pm - 6 pm
Fri: 12 pm - 6 pm
Sat: 9 am - 12 pm

It's FREE for UO students and $15/year for the rest of us!

Stay tuned for upcoming events and opportunities to support this brilliant, necessary program.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Moving by bike.

Posts have been few and short in the past week, as I've been busy moving. Now that I finally have time to post, the material is dated. Not very bloggy, but here goes:

Ryan helps me load the massive 12' trailer at my old house Saturday, Jan. 31. I'll have to help him unload boxes at his new place tomorrow.

For the first load, we crossed the street on foot and Ryan rode on the trailer through the park.

Unloading at the new house with Ryan and roomies, Garrett and Andrea.

We broke for dinner and didn't get the next load over until after dark. Brendan and Boone were handy to help unload.

They may not be trained professionals, but you can't pay pros with beer.

I pulled the last load—mostly bike parts—in a child carriage with my fixed gear. I was cold and tired.

I have a huge backlog of material to post, so watch for stories about commuting, the UO Bike Loan Program, wheelbuilding, the Bike/Ped Summit and more.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

If you don't read the UrbanVelo blog,

you miss really neat stuff like this post.

It's about an adaptable, bolt-on rear-end that turns an ordinary bike into a three-wheelin' cargo machine!

From the Lightfoot Cycles TCX page:

Installing a TCX on a bike is perhaps a half-hour project; easily done on a seasonal basis, but not something that you would plan to do and un-do daily or weekly. The bike chain must be lengthened a few inches. The brace attachment point varies according to the bike make and model, and may involve a special clamp.

Wish I had one of those for my move.