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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Camping by bike

Did a light (fixed-gear-friendly) bike-camping trip over the weekend. I'll do a proper post soon, but have also put up a few photos on the 'book. If you don't know what "book" I'm talking about, good for you. You continue to live in reality while the rest of us give our lives away to this guy.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Powerline Jam w/ LifeCycle, Kona, Downhill Coalition

Gilad's helmet, featuring Leonardo. Sticker reads: "IF YOU SEE THIS IT MEANS I PASSED YOU"

I always knew some folks like to ride bikes in the woods, but aside from a whole-hearted but half-baked attempt at cyclocross last fall, I have basically zero dirt experience. So it was a ton of fun to venture out into the woods yesterday and see what all this squishy-bike business was all about.

Kona brought a fleet of demo bikes for riders to test. Their friendly rep, Jimmy, is standing to the right of Gilad Gozlan, LifeCycle's co-owner and a former professional downhill rider.

Several riders are members of Downhill Coalition and did a lot to make the event happen.
Without taking our names, driver's licenses, or collateral of any kind, Jimmy gave me and my roommate about $8,000 of Deluxe-trim Kona products and told us to get 'em good and dirty. Garrett took a Stinky, and I saddled a Coilair.

We rode up a few hills to find the start of the course. We decided to do an easy pre-ride and dropped our gear at the tent. I left my crash-proof helmet cam, which I would come to regret. After about a minute of creeping down some insanely steep, rocky descents that, in my experience, neither people nor bikes had any business descending, we somehow left the course and got hopelessly lost.

For about two hours, Garrett and I rode up and down hills, over rocks, and through mud, puddles, streams, and more mud. At one point, we arrived at a clearing and decided to turn around. We rode/hiked for at least 30 minutes, only to discover the same clearing from the opposite side. But we got to know our bikes. Garrett was doing big, scary jumps on the Stinky, which was, as he described it, "a fucking tank." But he had a hard time keeping up on the many climbs, as my Coilair was lighter, with more gears, and a sweet semi-lockable rear suspension Kona calls "magic link." This was great for me, as I have crappy feet and really don't like getting off-bike.

So we got to know the bikes, a great workout, and a good coat of mud on our faces. Really, getting lost was the best possible scenario, as we didn't really have the experience to compete on the downhill course. My only regret is I don't have any photos or video to show for it.

Anyway, by the time we found the course again, the competition was halfway over, and we were a little cold, somewhat tired, and very thirsty. Luckily, there was a fire, music, food and beer back at the course start. So we called it a day and gave Jimmy his bikes back.

Check out that spatula: although Park makes a tool-inspired barbecue set, this is a genuine BBT-7

Tasty beer.

Someone broke a chain on the course and had to "Fred-Flintstone" the rest of his way down, before depositing the offending chain here, where it served to transform this keg photo into a bike-related keg photo.

Water bottles made OK cups. Note Mike Seager's mountain-unicycle in the background. He really rode it down the course.

After joking around with the other riders, a few beers, and a burger, we went home to wash up. All in all, a great first visit through the looking glass to the dirty, bouncy side of bike-riding. Thanks again to everybody there for being a good sport and showing us a good time!

PS: Check the Downhill Coalition post for their pictures that actually feature people on bikes.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Squishy bikes

Was going to rally the troops for a fun group ride tomorrow until I heard about this. It's an opportunity to get out of town and get dirty on a borrowed bike. They're even offering music, food, and fancy beer. Just show up in your play clothes and bring $10. Practice in the a.m., with racing at noon. I'm going to ride out there:

Panorama from the location of yesterday's SMS note (thanks for the new posting option, Blogger). View it large on flickr. Stitched from a score of point-and-shoot snaps. If the sloppiness bothers you, feel free to buy me a fancier camera.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Note: Am on the S side of Spencer's. Mile marker 8. Prolly 1000 feet? Beautiful.

It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood

Look at that: 60 degrees today, and only a couple showers this weekend! It's, like, practically spring, already.

The last few days, my jacket has served mainly as padding in my bag. The air is warm and sweet, and what little rain comes! Invigorating spritzes that without soaking, cool the skin.

So where to ride? There's a Kidical Mass this afternoon. Meet in Monroe Park at 5:30 p.m. Revolution Cycles will be there with a Madsen or two. Notes from the Facebook invite:
We want our rides to be comfortable for families just starting out and biking on city streets for the first time but we don’t shy away from traffic just because kids will be riding. There is comfort in numbers, not just on a group ride like this but also in the day to day world of riding in the city. A ride like this is meant to help families feel that comfort by having a group to ride with and hopefully they will incorporate it into their daily transportation choice.

Some of our basic guidlines:

*Personal responsibility (obey traffic laws and no group movements through stop signs and lights)
*Have fun!
*Go get a treat (like ice cream)
*Have fun!
*Outreach to families via non-bikey means (schools, grocery stores, PTOs, etc.)
*A short FUN route that doesn’t involve busy streets but utilizes a mix of residential streets (hopefully bike boulevards or traffic calmed) and off street paths
*Some ’street presence’ so we are seen and recognized out there
*Get the kids involved! Have them do artwork, tell their friends, and most importantly- come to the ride! (we’re working to get a PSA made up by kids!)
Saturday shows clear, coolish weather from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; perfect for a nice, long ride. Greater Eugene Area Riders is leading a ride from Alton Baker Park at 10 a.m. Flat terrain and a food stop await those willing to put 30 miles into their saddles that morning.

Sunday, sleep in. It's supposed to be a cold, rainy morning. By noon, it'll be as warm as it's going to get, and the sun's supposed to fend off the rain until it sets. A perfect day, then, for an afternoon race. Oops, scratch that. I'll have to come up with something else.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Polo News!

Video from the Oregon Bike Polo Championships pre-party at the Polo Haus in Portland a few Fridays ago. Via And in case you missed it, BikePortland did the best job EVER in the history of bike polo feature stories.

But back the the video: Eugene local Danye blocks a goal right at the beginning. Garrett can also be seen sporting his Fudd duds on the court. Skip to 2:40 and see Udelai killing it with what one spectator called an "around and through," lending cred to his Tokyo-style BMX bars. I'm in there, too, losing possession like four times, starting at 1:25. At least my wheel cover looked good. For some reason, at 1:44, someone says, "Cops drink beer, too."

Speaking of polo, beer and police, we had a bit of a run-in with the law last Thursday night. I'll offer a broad narrative, but for those who are into dirty details, a friend recounted his specific experience in a Facebook note.

Polo in Eugene has involved beer, on some level, since it started. A little over a year ago there were fewer than a dozen of us under the bridge. For the three or four people not in play, it was nice to have an adult beverage while spectating to keep the blood flowing close to the skin.

Over time, as more people came, there were more spectators. Some seemed to come just to hang out. With little else to do, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes seemed to be the obvious choice for many.

At some point, I think the beer may have become more important to some than polo. I, for one, can stand to play without Pabst, and intend to do so tonight. Not because I'm afraid of getting busted, but because I love to play polo and want to show everybody that that's enough for me to ride all the way downtown on a low gear, rain or shine, 52 Thursdays a year.

Cheers, and I hope to see more hands holding mallets than Millers this evening. See you under the bridge at eight.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Meet in the Street

Visited the Keystone Café last night to attend a planning meeting for Meet in the Street, a Cyclovia/Sunday Parkways-style event designed to bring our community together face-to-face in an urban environment, sans voiture. The specific date isn't set, but folks are talking about late summer/early fall.

Part of the goal is to bridge Eugene's riverside, Fern Ridge and Amazon bike paths. The challenge is to find a route that the city will accommodate, as it will require cooperation with local residents, businesses, the fire department, police, Lane Transit District, and more.

The illustrious Shane Rhodes has created maps of propositions for the final route:

The original route. Connects all bike paths by closing about 6 miles on Monroe/Blair, 15th, High, and Alder. Totally awesome, as it would create miles and miles of bikeway and several parks. Would require a lot of the city's resources, as it crosses a score of lit intersections.

West-side route. Connects river and Fern Ridge paths by closing just 2.3 miles in Whiteaker Neighborhood. Crosses 6 traffic lights and hits 4 parks.

A moderate route. Connects all three paths as well as campus, closes 2.75 miles to cars, and hits 4-6 parks, depending on how you count. Blocks only 5 lights.

Campus/Southtowne route. Connects river and Amazon paths. Closes 2.3 miles on 15th, Kincaid, and High. Connects a few parks, but only blocks two lights.

Though a longer route looks good on paper, Eugene is less than a quarter the size of Portland. The bigger city's 8-mile Sunday Parkways cost roughly $150,000 and was attended by some 10,000 of its 575,930 residents. With a proportional attendance, we'll see about 2,500 locals out in the street.

Imagine stretching those people out over 6 miles, and it might look like a middle-school dance in a high-school gymnasium; yeah, there's people there, but they're all spread out, and it doesn't really feel like a party. Now, stick those middle-schoolers in a preschool nap room, and you've got a wicked shindig!

Besides, if things go really well and the event is over-attended, there will be more reason to do it all again on a larger scale.

What do you think? Post your feedback on the Google Group and check back here for updates. There will be more opportunities for community members to meet, so come share ideas and help create a strong presentation to bring to the city of Eugene's Special Events team on April 20.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Who wants a mustache ride?

I do, I do!

But seriously, folks. After this weekend, I want to see more themed rides in Eugene. Themed rides are a great way to encourage people to ride their bikes with neither the burden of an errand or commute, nor the intimidation of logging 40 miles in spandex.

And with all the old-school beardies, hipster 'staches, fun kits, and other creative types, a mustache ride would be fun, easy, and well-attended. We could visit all the hip salons in town, sing mustache songs, and generally raise cycling/mustache awareness.

But that's just one idea. Do you have any? Post 'em in the comments.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Tweed ride

The first three months of 2009 have seen three tweed-themed bicycle events. In January, London's Tweed Run started the trend. San Francisco followed in February. Today, March 15, Eugene joined the club. Unlike the big-city events, our weather was uncooperative, and attendance numbered in the single digits.

Here's Chris Nelsen of Bike Friday in the foreground. Note his wicker basket. Ordinary cyclist in the background. This is about where I caught the group on the north side of the river bike path between Autzen and Knickerbocker. I'd had a few mechanical issues right before the ride but was lucky enough to pick up a route map at the start.

We broke for tea under a bridge. That's organizer Hans Kuhn on the right. His wife, Martha, wore a handmade jacket/skirt combo that one must see to fully appreciate.

Chris and Katura. Note the cup and saucer. These folks had the look totally down.

Locking up Cozmic Pizza after 20 miles of terrifically torrential tweediness.

Ordering coffee with Karl Dietzler, who sported the best mustache of the ride.

After sitting and chatting about a few other ideas for fun, non-sporty rides in the future (another tweed ride in May, donut-shop-hopping up Highway 99 to Voodoo in Portland, mustache ride, etc.), we noticed a veritable reservoir had formed beneath us and our drippy natural fibers. It was time to go home.

Andrea was kind enough to snap me, damp and dapper. I'll have to do something about those shoes before next time.

Oh! And check out Chris and Katura's flickr set for more great pictures. Like this one, taken pre-ride at Hideaway Bakery with April DeLaurier of the Bottom Brackettes and Eric Estlund of Winter Bicycles:

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Naked Bike Ride

So this happened today. The print media characterized it as "a demonstration against the country’s energy dependence," which isn't untrue, but a bit narrow. More broadly, it was about 50 people riding their bikes in various states of undress. Besides, these people demonstrate for energy independence every day, when they choose to drive a bike to work, school, the coffee shop, the grocery store.

Here's a much better statement of purpose, written by a rider and read by ride coordinator Ruth Belcher.

The EPD was there to block traffic for us. They also helped keep the group together. PS—there's nothing like running a red light with no pants and a police escort.

Here, the group returns to Monroe Park at the end of the loop. It went from the park to 13th, up Oak, then west on 8th back to the park. Check out the dude in the front. He's written everybody's favorite irrational number across his birthday suit. Why? Today's date is 3/14. Pi Day.

A clip from the ride. Don't miss: trumpet, ironic comment, happy old people, cop corking intersection, tall bike.

Representation from the UO Cycling Team.

From left to right: random guy, the campus Jesus dude, coordinator Ruth Belcher.

Taking foolishness seriously with a pre-ride stretch.

I asked this guy something along the lines of "What the hell? Why no naked?" His answer was perfect: "Duh! Gorillas are always naked!"

Now that's unconvective. Like this fellow, many people were very close to—but not quite—naked. The theme seemed to be "dare to bare." Everybody's attire was appropriately inappropriate for the beautifully rainy, 40-degree day in Eugene, Oregon, thankyouverymuch.

A few thoughts from Ruth and other riders.

A bunch of us stopped for coffee and pie pi at Sweet Life afterward.

Next: something strikingly similar but completely different.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Two rides this weekend

And they're antipodal in nature.

Option one: get naked. Meet at Monroe Park at 5:30 p.m. Saturday. De-robe and saddle up by six. This is an expression of free speech, and as such is 100% legal. There will be police escorts.

For inspiration, watch this video of riders getting cheeky in the UK.

Option two: get tweeded:Meet at Hideaway Bakery at 9 a.m. Sunday. Sally forth at ten. Dress sharp.

From Winter Bicycles' blog:
This social ride is designed as the perfect excuse to ride your nice bike and wear your Sunday best (with bonus points for the slightly anachronistic). The best part? It starts at a bakery and ends at a pizza joint. Now that's a bike ride! Not only am I a great fan of the waistcoat, but I also love (LOVE!) baked goods and pizza.
For more inspiration, visit flickr photos tagged "tweed ride."

And whether you intend to do either or both, remember: this is Eugene. We do it rain or shine.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

More OBPC photos

If you're on Facebook, you can view Tiah Keever's pictures from the event.

Tiah somehow managed to run the show Saturday/Sunday and play for team Solid Gold. Her team portraits came from this set, which popped up on TLOBP.

Also just contacted this flickrer (from Seattle?) who brought a fancy camera and a good eye to the Portland tourney. Also happened to snap a few of my friends.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Pie movie

There are more wrench-pie pictures. It has been requested they be shared in movie form.

It's too graphic to post, so here's the link. Also, I couldn't get the code right.


Because you never know: THERE MIGHT BE PIE.

Oregon Bike Polo Championships

Midnight maintenance the day before.

Garret changes the oil in the Ford Kill-O-Matic Friday morning.

Also glued a cog.

Really caked that J-B Weld on.

A good omen: this blossom opened on our cherry tree just before we hit the road. We took five people and seven bikes 107 miles up I-5 with no incident.

Arrived and unloaded at my friend Jordan's house in NE, off Alberta. We rode three blocks to play cul-de-sac polo outside the Polo Haus. They also had an awesome live DJ, a keg of Ninkasi Oatis Stout, and a micro pump-track. Unreal. That's our man Sean from EUG.

This guy's helmet caught my attention immediately. His name's Rory, and he's from Vancouver, B.C.

We made it home and slept for a few hours. Saturday morning, we prepared for the actual tourney. Boone found out his cog and lock-ring were loose.

Garret towed his polo bike and Brendan's disc'd 650. You can just make out Bob Ross above the brown bag by the stand.

A bunch of sissies drove there.

We rode. Look for Boone and Danya on the path in the background. Garrett and I chose to take the lane the whole way because traffic was light and the side path was steep.

The organizers were very organized, with fancy brackets and stuff. That's Jeff's arm.

Division 3 was the dirtiest division. "BMFP" stands for Bike Mutha Fuckin' Polo.

The Reverend Phil, representing.

An alleycat came through. Polo was a checkpoint. These guys were a little lost.

Garrett warming up in a pickup game. Meanwhile, my bike lays in wait.

I didn't saddle up at all until we had to play an actual points game.

A Portlander films from the fence as this dude from Los Angeles guards his goal.

There are no time outs in polo, but play magically stopped when this tough gal took a really mean spill.

I shot this sloppy panorama with Geordan's rented Rebel on continuous shutter mode and let Photoshop paste it together for me. Click on it for the full-size experience.

Sunday's games were on a single-serving court at the more nearby Alberta park.

Spectators spread out.

Most of the EUG crew hung out by this goal.

A Shift2Bikes group ride stopped to watch for a few minutes.

Some really impressive plays in the final rounds. I often found myself interrupting one "woah" with another, then another, and finally just yelling.

"Dirty Sock," a team comprised of Sean and Udelai from Eugene and our expatriate Abe, made it pretty deep into the bracket.

There were always a few standing around and pointing at this piece of cardboard.

Dirty Sock shuffling off the courts after their final defeat. They did Eugene proud.

This photog was shooting some nice on-court stuff until he had to jump up the fence to stay out of play.

Yes, that's Eilif eating strawberry rhubarb pie with a lock-ring wrench.

Amazing snot rocket. Caught on film. This is bike related because he's on a bike.

Former messenger turned Union Pacific engine operator, "Disco" stuck around to watch all day. Has one of the classiest road conversion fixed-gears I've ever seen.

Jordan was a really enthusiastic spectator. I mean he was really, really pumped about the whole thing. He should have won an award.

Eilif wanted to make sure everybody knew his team beat DFB, 5-0.

Organizers called all players onto the court at the end for the awards ceremony. Along with the cup and some sweet pads from Black Star Bags, they gave away these metallic purple risers with under-clearcoat decals. Do want.

Vancouver's "Balls Deep" won the whole thing.

Here they are claiming their cup.

The final bracket.

I saw this on my way out of town. I think it sums up a weekend of serious foolishness rather well.