24 September 2008

A Blogspot Confessional

Forgive me, Blogger, for I have sinned. It's been 6 days since my last submission.

I neglected to post the following photo taken at SE Ankeny and 28th which might have helped my reader though I doubt it because my mom neither lives in Portland nor is a nurse at OHSU.

Then there was the run with the lovely Office of Transportation intern, Beth, who was surveying bike traffic for the city at the same corner which might have made a interesting offering.

I could have also mentioned the Kerns Neighborhood meeting and the effort underway to plan a bike light giveaway this month.

There's also the Bike Commute Challenge which I've been coordinating at my workplace and has been going on all month that would have been a worthy inclusion. Alas, none of these posts came to pass as I frittered aways Summer's final days.

Oh, then there was the bike commute out to Beaverton to pick the kids up at daycare which ended in a taxicab at the Burger King drive thru.

A lot actually happened in the intervening days, I'm realizing. Maybe one day I'll write about them.

Yea, though I ride in darkness, pending the time change, my heart cries out to mankind. I will invite 10 friends on Facebook as penance.

17 September 2008

An Open Letter to Pacific Audit Solutions

To Whom it May Concern:

16 September 2008

Waves to Wine 2008

This past weekend was the 25th annual Waves to Wine event in California. The event is a fundraiser benefit for the California chapter of the MS Society. My wife Michelle, who works for The North Face, signed us up through work.

This was a massive event - I've never done anything like it. I have to respect how well-organized the entire thing was, from start to finish. There ended up being 2000 registered riders, the majority doing the 75 mile route both Saturday and Sunday. There was also a century route for the more adventurous, along with a half-century as well.

View Larger Map

We walked our bikes and gear over to ATT Park, about a mile from our house at 6AM on Saturday, to find the parking lot already thronged with bikers & support crew. After dropping our bags off with the truck, we hooked up with the other North Facers, all resplendent in their sleek black jerseys. Of course, everyone was gravitating around the breakfast tents, trying to load up on last-minute calories before the start.

To cope with the massive amount of riders, they were staging the departures, and we were slotted for a 7AM start. As we all rolled out of the starting gate, they had what seemed like 15 volunteers just ringing cowbells and cheering us on.

We were in a huge pack of cyclists as we cruised up the Embarcadero, around the tip of the peninsula, and up to the Golden Gate Bridge. I had never biked over the bridge before, and it was spectacular. Once across the bridge, we dropped down into Sausalito and up into the Marin headlands, over Mt. Tam. Oh man, were there some huge hills there! That is where some extra training could have come in handy, without a doubt. There were a lot of people struggling to get up those hills. Somehow, I managed to get behind a dude with a boom box strapped to the back of his bike, and he was blasting out the tunes, which was semi-annoying, and semi-helpful...at least he could have been playing Eye of the Tiger or something!

But make it to the top we did, and this is what we saw:

The calm Pacific view helped drop my heart rate back to normal. From there, we wound along the coast past Stinson Beach & Point Reyes, then headed inland to Cotati, where we camped out for the night.

On Sunday, we wound around to Sebastopol, and then up to Healdsburg. Day 2 was a much mellower ride, but after the first day, it was still pretty challenging. The rolling hills of wine country were amazing, I can't wait to get back and explore more of those back roads.

A great part of the whole ride was how well-organized it was, There were rest stops every 10 miles or so, with Gatorade, water, snacks and also mechanics to make sure everyone's bikes were in top shape. On top of that they had support cars going up & down the route, helping out if anyone had any problems.

Rest stop on day 2

All in all it was a great weekend, and a great event that ended up raising close to 2 million dollars to benefit the MS Society.Now we know we're going to start training for next year now! Maybe by that time we'll be bold enough to go for the century ride...or maybe not.

15 September 2008

Faster Mustache 24.08

Hello, this is Da Trouble Twin checking in with another east coast dispatch. . .

Sometimes in Atlanta (as with many other cities, I imagine) it's easy to fall into a geographical routine. I tend to ride my bike on the same routes, I tend to hang out in the same parts of town, and stick in the same general regions most of the time. On top of that, I usually experience a particular area of the city at a consistent time of day.

So last weekend, I had a really refreshing experience riding in a 24-hour urban bike relay race through the city. Although I was already familiar with most of the streets and areas on the race route, it was cool to be forced to engage different parts of Atlanta at different parts of the day than I'm used to.

To provide some background, the concept of the race goes like this: teams of 1-6 riders take turns doing a 12-mile loop through the city. Along the way, there are 5 checkpoints you have to hit to make sure you are riding the full loop. At the end of 24 hours, the team with the most completed laps wins.

Most of the course ran through the main residential thoroughfares of Atlanta's east side, but the part that I enjoyed the most was a 3 or 4 mile chunk through the heart of downtown. As the time of day changed, the energy and character of the downtown area changed as well, particularly in a neighborhood in the southwest corner of downtown called Castleberry Hill. Like Atlanta itself, Castleberry is filled with a lot of different types of people and places all colliding together in one location. It's hard to explain, but there is this wild mashed-up vibe down there where high end art galleries sit next to decaying pawn shops, and makeshift homeless encampments are within eyeshot of million dollar residential lofts. The whole neighborhood sits in a really disorienting section of downtown where some streets are elevated over the railroad tracks, some streets are down below by the tracks, and some streets just kind of dead end into concrete barriers. The result is a lot of scrubby undeveloped plots of land that have a fringy, almost rural feel even as they loom in the shadow of the downtown skyscrapers and the golden state capitol dome a few blocks away.

In one of these zones down by the tracks is the Elliot Street Pub. It was the last checkpoint on the route, where you stopped heading west and returned back around to head into town. The night of the race, it was also one of the city's de facto cyclist hangouts, where racers would have food and drinks while waiting for their next turn to do the loop. Around 10 or so, the Elliot street scene started getting really animated, and patrons would whoop and holler encouragement as you made the turnaround on your bike. By 1:30 in the morning, the encouragement had gotten much more physical, and Elliot Street became a gauntlet of sorts, with people alternately hugging you, patting your shoulders, and/or slapping your ass as hard as possible for sport. By sunrise, tailgaters for the nearby Atlanta Falcons game at the Georgia Dome had already begun to arrive and park down by Elliot street and were all too ready to carry the torch of cheering on / heckling the cyclists as we carved our way through their downtown encampments.

I had the good fortunate of running the last leg of the race for our team. I've done some races where you ride a long distance over the course of a few hours, but never a race like this where you ride as fast as you can for 40 minutes, take a break for a few hours, and then race as fast as you can again. By that final lap on Sunday, I'd ridden over 70 miles, slept a little under 3 hours and my legs and mind were starting to weaken. But at the same time, that final loop around the city was one of my favorite. There were lots of people in the neighborhoods out walking to church or to get breakfast, and a cool breeze blew through the streets downtown. When I crossed the finish line, my teammates had a cold beer waiting for me, as we celebrated our unspectacular-but-respectable 9th place finish.

13 September 2008

Poser Elitist Suffers Talk Radio Withdrawls

Exposing hypocrisy has long been a tradition of blogs. I believe it was Jedediah Locklace in the early years of the New Republic who exposed Abigail Adams' Jeffersonian tendencies on his blog, written by candlelight on a drum skin with quill ink on the eve of the 1800 election and published as a broadside outside taverns throughout the eastern seaboard, effectively establishing the two-party system.

It's in that spirit of flawless and inspirational journalism that I endeavor to bring you these accounts of car-free commuting. But a funny thing about exposing hypocrisy is the level of effort investigative journalism entails. Try as I might, I just can't seem to intuit surprising, fact-based false positions perpetrated by important people. Although I did once witness a strip tease by Sarah Palin at a dive bar in Nome, AK in the mid Eighties. I was with Joey Biden who used to score the best blow in those days. Like I said, it was the Eighties. Does anyone else think Biden looks like Big Earl from What's Happening!!!? But I digress...

As I was saying, the effort involved at exposing hypocrisy has forced me to look for a shortcut. And so, as is my predilection, I'm turning the magnifying glass on myself. Ouch, it burns.

You see, it's been a month and a half since the last time I drove a car to work. And though I work for the liberal media, I can only listen to depressing Morning Edition stories about the grim situation in the Middle East or the rising death totals in Iraq (on the way to work no less) for so long before I'm compelled to look for loose railing on a bridge to drive through. That's how I happened to discover ESPN's Colin Cowherd on my drive in. Ssshhh...it's my secret.

I can't tell you how much self-loathing the act of listening to sports radio would instill in me. I would change the channel before I turned off the car engine just in case I happened to have a passenger at lunch or on the way home for fear that I'd be exposed. If I could render a snapshot of the image of myself I'd least want to project to the world, I'd have inline skates, short shorts and tube socks and a headband with a cigarette in one hand and a transistor radio tuned to sports talk in the other. Actually, I rather fancy myself in tube socks and a headband.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not ashamed to have or admit to rooting interests in the sporting world. I have a baseball team that I follow and even stay in touch with the old college gang via a fantasy football league I belong to. But when I listen to these talk shows and hear the minutiae and aping analysis of the call-in listeners I shudder to think I'm one of them. And then I stay an extra three minutes in the parking lot with the engine off to hear what they have to say.

So on the growing list of benefits of bike commuting add this: it's executed a restraint that I'm incapable of under my own volition and forced more discerning media consumption upon me.

If anyone asks, corroborate my story. I was listening to Frank Deford.

09 September 2008

DIY Adult Toys at Root of Three Alarm Fire

My Internal Dialogue on the Ride Home Yesterday

That's funny I've never seen smog in Portland before...

...oh, that's not smog that's a charcoal black column of billowing smoke...I wonder if I should get my cell phone out of my bag and take a picture for my blog...no, it takes really crappy pictures. I'll just find some pictures on flicker.

Hey, that looks like it's coming from the base of the Hawthorne Bridge. People are riding over the bridge though...

...I should have taken a picture from the South Waterfront that was a much better angle. Are people still calling it SoWa? I haven't heard that one in awhile. I'd like to try Bambuza one day.

Boy, that's really some fire. Oh, I'm going to have to ride right through that toxic smoke.

...I don't really have to cough but I'm going to force myself.


I can't see the fire anymore.


We interrupt this mildly interesting blog post to deliver some mind-blowing information. As I was researching this story for some pictures I discovered that not only is Empire Labs a manufacturer of rubber products such as conveyor belts, etc. but also the popular "Clone-A-Willy" adult toy. So while the mainstream media is recycling the narrative of a three-generation family-run operation, the blog-o-sphere, specifically Melissa Ooms the OregonLive blogger for Kerns Neighborhood, gives you the true skinny, or rather, thickness.

Oh yeah, the company owner is named Edward Hutchinson. Strange truths.

08 September 2008

Day 24 (Commute Day 14)


Have you been reading my diary? I noticed Dorito fingerprints and the pages smell like throw up. Stay out of my stuff!

05 September 2008

Day 21 (Commute Day Twelve)

Blogerians Unite!

With Patriot Day loomng and all this talk of Country First! I thought it would be appropriate for me to fly colors. I prefer this revolutionary era flag to the stars and bars. It's what hangs from the flag mount in front of my house. I'm not a strict originalist ala Antonin Scalia, but I do think it captures the sentiment the framers had in mind (or at least the various militia that waged the revolt and established our country). God Bless America, and I mean that. I'll be flying old faithful come November 5th. Make that a guarantee.

You're good people. Let's set politics aside and get to the more pressing issue: Bike Bells. The votes are in and I've tabulated the results. Of the five votes received, I voted twice. So I'm throwing those out. I sorta hoped I wouldn't be the lone dissenting vote in favor of clown horns, but the numbers don't lie. My other vote was actually for bells. People with a knowledge of the poll and a mastery of subtraction will have deduced that Ridden readers opposed bike bells 2-1. That's not a reduced ratio. That's in actual votes.

Regarding bells, now that I have one, I still do what I always did, which is whistle. As an audible warning I still find it friendlier than either "ding" or "on your left." But I'll concede that a lot depends on circumstance. I try to gauge my audience. Elders, moms with strollers get "on your left" in advance and "excuse me" as I pass. Delivery trucks cutting me off in the bike lane get a different auditory warning.

04 September 2008

Day Twenty (Commute Day Eleven)

(Saw this on the ride home last night and had to stop to snap a pick. )

Dear Blogeria,

Try as I might I can't get the thought out of my head: Mom was right. Not in the pre-fab marketing survey sense wherein Choosy Moms choose Jiff, but rather in the visceral exhortations imploring me to "get that out of [my] mouth," "[not] pick at that" or "let [my] brother out of the dryer". Seems there's some impulsive instinct hardwired in moms that lets them instantly detect bad ideas and communicate them in unwavering proclamation.

Moms know stuff.

So it comes as no surprise that I'm really dragging my heels on telling my parents about the car swap for fear of her optimistic but half-hearted support. I called them the weekend of the event but couldn't bring myself to relay the news via voice mail. And here we are three weeks into the Year of the Bike and I'm still writing "Pig" on all my checks.

Today, I'm pulling off a commute trifecta heretofore undocumented in modern times: Bike, light rail and jogging. I had a doctor's appointment in far-off suburbia this morning, so I took the MAX into the city and rode south on the waterfront. On the way home I'm leaving my mostly unused mountain bike at work for would-be participant's in September's Bike Commute Challenge--a local event put on by the non-profit Bicycle Transportation Alliance--who lack a functioning bicycle, and I'm running to the trolley which goes to the light rail and then running home from the nearest stop. I couldn't figure out a way to work in the aerial tram.

As I recall, there was another thing mom used to say in the waning days of summertime when the Match Game reruns were over and the sibs and I were climbing the walls with boredom (and driving her up same said walls): "Get out and ride your bike!"

Yeah, mom was right.

03 September 2008

Day Nineteen (Commute Day Ten)


It feels like forever since my last post. What are you wearing?

Name that Bike!

I made my first customization to my new ride this morning. This will be my most critical piece of hardware on those cool, misty mornings ahead. The only problem is it blocks the neat-o Black
Sheep logo.

I'm looking for suggestions for a name for this ride. Kevin McEvoy from Jacksonville, Fla. suggested Folly. I really like that name but I'm going to open it up for a public vote and will abide whatever's decided in this forum. Send me your suggestion via comments. I'll pick the best three or four (if I get that many responses) and post a poll. Preferential treatment will be given names with an -y or -ie suffix or that are easily ammendable as such.

Here's a full shot of this ride for your reference.

Happy Cycling!