Monday, September 1, 2008

Trimet Follies

I think Trimet occasionally goes out of their way to hire people whose interpersonal skills may be a little suspect. I will allow that many, many Trimet folks are great, but there are a few that can turn on the "charm" enough to sour one's view of the organization.

This morning as I hopped on the MAX at Goose Hollow a attitude laced voice came over the PA that went something like this (can't remember the actual words):
Hey cyclists make sure you're not in the way of the doors or aisles. If you are, better get yourself right.
The rude was dripping off her tone. The fact that she actually said this seemed pretty rude to me as well. As a cyclist I know where I am allowed to place my bike, I don't need to be chastised. Yes, I was standing holding my bike where it kind of blocked the aisle as all of the hooks on the train were filled. But considering there were less than 15 folks in my care, half with bikes, I didn't see this to be a problem. Was I in the way for anyone getting on or off? No. Just that the operator said this irked me some. Other than that, the ride was uneventul.

What, may I ask, am I to do? Wait for the next train? On a Sunday morning where the trains run with at least a half-hour in between? I think not. Love to see her wait around at the end of her day...y'know it ain't going to happen.

Sunday Mornings

Some mornings getting on the bike to ride home is a monumental task and sort of a drag. Others it is a wonderful commune between rubber and the road. Sunday was one of those mornings. I usually love leaving Good Sam on weekend mornings. There's no traffic, the normally bustling streets of Northwest Portland are near deserted. In short, it's near perfect. And Sunday was the best for some time.

It was cool, not cold, but cool, with a slight nip to the breeze. Just a touch to remind me that fall was not completely banished and keep me awake all at the same time. The sun was out, low in the sky, casting a great golden light on near everything. Instead of the sigh of desperation a I swung a leg over, I got the chill of anticipation. As I rode, I felt the stress of the last 2 nights of work start to melt away. Gone was the tension in my neck brought on by the constantly ringing phone. Gone were the cramps in my hands from entering order after order. Cleared from my mind was the lingering resentment of the resident physicians who couldn't quite seem to see the forest for the trees. But as the rubber hummed along the pavement those thoughts passed away.

When co-workers ask me how I ride home after the night shift, I always extol the virtues of it in its ability to clear my mind. On more than one occasion I have said the even if I have a completely shit night, by the time I have ridden home, it's gone from my thoughts. It gives me the chance to process as needed. Some mornings are better than other but this Sunday was a jewel. I just sat back and enjoyed the ride. Wish every morning was like that.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Equipment to Ride

There is a spectrum of what people wear and carry on their bikes. Some don the full superhero spandex outfits for their commute hoping to turn it into a training ride, others wear the same clothes they work in. Some of us straddle the middle line. That would be me. I thought I would share what my basics are. The bottom line basic stuff that I use every day I'm out, commuting, running errands or just out and about.

The bag:The waterproof pannier made by Banjo Brothers has been my bag of choice for over a year. As you can see from the pics above, it has an inner liner that can be removed should the need arise. I still roll with it. Capacity is OK. This is not a trekking bag mind you. It has enough room for what I need to carry: scrubs, lunch, grab bag, tool set and when it gets wet a jacket. And I've been hauling shoes as well having been wearing sandals this summer. When I leave in the evening it gets pretty packed between everything I carry, but it has held up. Normally I strap my lock to the rack instead of carrying it internally. People as me why panniers? One big reason: my back. I was having a lot of extra back pain last summer before I bought this and both my physical therapist and I ventured to guess that it was either the backpack or messenger bag I was using to carry my stuff that was adding to the strain. Not that I've been pain-free since, but it had helped greatly.

If you look closely, you can see that the seams are pretty beat up. That has been my one beef with the bag, it doesn't take abuse well. I have a feeling that I'm going to be needing to replace it soon. On the upside however, it was $40, which if you have every priced panniers, is damn cheap. Second, I made it through the whole winter with nary a drop of water inside. Completely dry.

The tools:
I learned the hard way that carrying tools was not a waste. Stuck with a lose crank and pedal I had to shamefully walk to work and back home. It was not enjoyable. It's a basic set. Allen wrenches, pedal wrench, tire levers, screwdriver, patch kit and my newest addition, a CO2 inflator. That little guy fits so much better than my previous pump and it actually works. And the kit rolls up into a small bundle that sits neatly at the bottom of the bag.

The gloves:
Full-finger you ask? In the summer? Yep. There is something about the way the cut finger gloves feel that I just don't like. These Kona Chevrons fit great, have minimal padding which helps me not grip so tight and breathe really well. They get a little warm, but I've been wearing them all summer long. They look good, feel good and work good.

The brain bucket:Call me a ninny, or a sissy, or unmanly, but I wear a helmet near-religiously. I have seen first hand the effects of a traumatic brain injury having taken care of those patients adn it ain't pretty. So if there is something i can do to prevent that I do. Sure, I may be giving myself a false sense of security but ignorance is bliss. I figure if folks don't want to wear one, its OK by me, they just have to deal with the consequences of not doing so. The only crash I've been in *knocking on wood* didn't dump me onto my head and as I was wearing the bucket, I would have been just fine!

So that's it. I put my equipment through the wringer and am pretty tough on it, but it has survived. The bag is going on over a year, the gloves 3 months, the toolkit has been with me for a long time and the helmet is recent as well. The best thing about it all is that it does work.

Next? Clothing, fair and foul weather.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

!$@#! Heat

I moved from Arizona, so heat is nothing new to me. Nothing says August like sitting in a car on the freeway in Phoenix, with no AC on a 105 degree evening. But then there's Portland in August. We hit 90 and the news folks go all atwitter with ominous warnings of "Heat Wave 2008!" I find it comical to say the least. But yes, it hes been hot. Hot with a capital "f". It's the kind of hot where you start sweating the moment you walk outside.

And I'm the dumb-ass riding my bike out in it. Me and the other half of Portland.

So I get to work the other day, one of those 100+ degree days and I'm sweaty. Dripping in fact. One of my co-workers says to me, "Isn't it a little hot to be riding your bike?"

"It's not like I have much of a choice." I respond. Inside my head I'm saying, "Yeah, it probably is, but hey, at least I'm enjoying the weather."

I'm writing this to file it away, so when January hits and I'm layered in 13 layers of fleece and waterproof fabric being blown around by the wind and blinded by the falling rain, I can remember that the opposite is not exactly the most pleasant thing. Me, I'll take bad weather over heat any day. At last you can warm up.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Tryin' it Car Free

Had to run to Home Depot for some 'round the house stuff. Thought about picking up a 2 cubic foot bag 'o soil for Linda, but after much thinking, hefting, measuring ang sighing, I realized that wasn't going to happen. Until I get a trailer.

After the Depot, just bummed around. It was a beautiful day. A little warm, but pleasant. All in all a good day to ride one's bike.

Now I have to get working on plans for a trailer and the new bike I'm drooling over. Time will tell.

Oh yeah, no insanity today.

Monday, August 4, 2008

And this isn't helping...

Clued in by my daily look at, found this website full of vitriol and hate, along with some ideas that actually do make sense: Bike Free Portland.

Somethings I do completely understand, like the idiots running lights, running without lights, entering areas that say, "NO BIKES", but the rest is just hate filled ranting. This is NOT the way to make things better for cyclists (she purports to be a cyclist herself!). Spewing this putrid crap in the name of making things better is a fulfillment of what I keep saying: the few are ruining it for the rest of us.

Is she wrong that there are a multitude of stupid cyclists in Portland? Nope. Is she wrong in saying that the cyclists here in Portland are horrible? Not really - there are good ones and bad ones, but seemingly more bad ones.

But calling them Bikenazis and making your symbol reminiscent of the Swastika makes it even worse. So Myra, stop adding fuel to the fire. If you had constructive things to add, feel free, but c'mon being hateful will make things worse and furthering the whole us v. them mentality adds nothing to the debate.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Me: All you ever wanted to know

I read Bike on a near daily basis. And when I read they were soliciting profiles, I just had to submit mine. So read all about my commuting life here.

And for those disinclined, here's a montage to fill you in.

The Reason:
The Bike:

The Ride: