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:

An Open Letter to the Cyclists of Portland

Dear Fellow Cyclists,

As a dedicated cyclist and resident of our fair city I have a couple of things to say to y'all. Please take this in the manner it is intended: outright and blatant criticism.

Too many of you are giving the rest of us a very, very bad name. You cry and moan that you get no respect, that you are constantly under attack and it's you versus the city. Guess what? You're absolutely correct. And you know what else? You have brought it on yourself. I am so fed up with the entitled attitude y'all bring to the table. Just because you cycle doesn't mean your shit doesn't stink or that you can walk on water. Believe me, your halo, er, aura is pretty much tarnished as well. After seeing my pedestrian friends nearly hit innumerable times yesterday, I almost feel ashamed to call myself a cyclist in this city.

Example 1: Thanks to the wonderful people at Trimet, we were walking across the Willamette via the Steel Bridge. Along with quite a few others. Yet there was a constant stream of cyclists trying to get across that way as well, some at a fair clip. Ringing a bell, shouting, "On your left!" as you zip past does not absolve you of the common courtesy expected of folks sharing the sidewalk. And getting an attitude about it makes it even worse. Either join the flow, get off and walk your bike when there is heavy pedestrian traffic, or, gasp...go another route!. It's not like there isn't any other way across the river.

Example 2: Don't expect to ride fast on the waterfront on a busy Saturday morning. When there is a festical about and thousands of people walking to it, bobbing and weaving in and out of people as you try to get there faster is a recipie for disaster. How about wising up and using the bike lanes on Naito instead? Or if you persist on using the boardwalk, slowing down, or walking like the rest of us?

Basically put, I am so incredibly tired of dealing with this bullshit. In our small group yesterday at the Flugtag, we had 3 near misses from cyclists inthe above examples. I guess the whole "Yield to pedestrians" is only a suggestion. How about thinking about waht may be hapening out in the city when deciding how to get to where you're going and choosing an alternative route to get there? There are more than a few ways to get across the river, other than the Steel Bridge. There are other ways down the waterfront than the boardwalk. If you ask me, there woldn't be such as rising backlash against cyclists if we took it upon ourselves to express the common courtesies of life.

Look, I'm no saint either. I run stop signs, turn without signaling and don't stop for pedestrians crossing my lane of travel. But if I'm headed out by bike to a large event, I'm not going to expect to be given the right-of-way over pedestrians. I'll find an alternative route and when the situation warrants it, walk the bloody bike.

To close this out, let me reiterate: just beacue you're on a bike doesn't make you any better than the next person. We're all in this together and a little bit of courtesy can go a long way to making our great city even better. Or, quit your bitching, you reap what you sow. Take whichever way you want.