This Space for Rent

Aug 31, 2010

New Code!

Discount has been pulled up to version 1.6.7 with the correction of one small bug in the way backticks are handled. I had miscoded the case where a code span had more closing backticks than opening backticks; the old code would end up eating the contents of the code span instead of leaving the excess ticks alone.

1.6.7 “fixes” this. It’s not an accurate fix; the markdown dingus will not codify a block of text if there are more than two backticks there closing backticks than opening backticks (and version 1.6.8, which is going to include a much-requested ~~strikethrough~~ hack, will attempt to hew more closely to the reference version here.)

I can pretty much guaranteeassume that this New Code! won’t cause any fatal damage to your system. So you should start using it now, so I can get the bug reports before I set the 1.6.8 label.

Aug 30, 2010

A new engine for Portland Traction?

OPR 1413

Last friday I spotted this engine sitting in Brooklyn Yard, and thought hopefully that the Oregon Pacific had dragged EPT187 out of the siding where it’s sitting and painted it up as part of putting it back into service (there aren’t very many NW5s floating around, and it’s a shame to see it rotting away on a siding,) but today, when I looped through the Milwaukie industrial park to see if it had been moved down there, I discovered that it was not actually the NW5, but what appears to be a GM-Canada GMD1 roadswitcher.

Now that’s something new. That’s certainly bigger power than the new replacement working Eng! (OPR 1202) and I can’t imagine there’s the sort of freight on the rump EPT to justify it, so I guess it’s going to be tested here, then it will head south to live on the Molalla & Western.

Aug 29, 2010

Cute baby picture of the day

Russell reads while Silas darts by in the background

Russell’s genetic heritage is becoming more obvious as he grows older; these days he tends to carry a book or three everywhere and will sit down and read at the slightest provocation.

Silas, on the other hand, is still living life at 95mph.

More bee pictures!


A honeybee rests on the rear bumper of our Prius.

Pretty flower picture of the day

A lotus blossom at the Chinese Garden

A lotus blossom(?) at the Portland Chinese Garden.

Aug 28, 2010

Is this the smallest industrial railway in north america?

I suspect that there are other model railways being used as sushi trains in the world, but I’d be surprised if any of them were smaller than O gauge; the plates are already a very wide load, and the restaurant has had to duct tape the couplers together to keep the train from spontaneously uncoupling as it loops around the railroad all day and night.

Pretty flower picture of the day

A large purple flower at the Chinese Garden

An Althea blossom at the Chinese Garden.

I’d taken the Nikon L6 out for the afternoon so I could see how it would work as a CBC, and wanted to see how it would work in the macro setting. Fortunately this purple flower showed up just in the nick of time so I could take a picture or two. The flash fired the first time and washed it out, so I used my finger to diffuse the flash on the second image, and it turned out much better.

If I was to use this $30 wonder for macro photography in the future, I’d cut apart some small plastic box and work it so I could clip it over the top of the camera and over the built-in flash.


Trolley picture of the day

Two purple Bombardier cars just west of the Steel Bridge

We were wandering around downtown Portland this afternoon, and we walked by the First & Everett interurban station just as a pair of Gresham<->Hillsboro interurban trains pulled in. Conveniently, one was being lead by a Bombardier car and the other was trailing a Bombardier car. And, more conveniently, both of them were in the Spirit Mountain Casino purple advertising map.

I was carrying around a Nikon L6 CBC, so I didn’t have much choice about what caught the focus and how much exposure it ended up with, but it did a pretty good job of it nevertheless.

Aug 27, 2010

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Still life with Pentax, Dust Mite, and essence of cynic.

Out on the line

MLCM (non-drive side)

It’s friday, so what better route home than via Kelley Point Park? It’s only about 35 miles longer than my usual route home, but I got to take advantage of a tailwind all the way down Marine Drive (including a couple of miles @ 25+mph along the wind tunnel by the airport) and a tailwind assisted (and fast) climb up the i205 ramp to gateway transit center.

Every now and then I consider that it might be a nice change to go to a database-driven weblog

Warning: Table ‘./somebody_civicspace/access’ was created with a different version of MySQL and cannot be read query: SELECT 1 FROM access WHERE type = ‘host’ AND LOWER(‘’) LIKE LOWER(mask) AND status = 0 LIMIT 0, 1 in /home/somebody/public_html/includes/ on line 128

Warning: session_start() [function.session-start]: Cannot send session cookie - headers already sent by (output started at /home/somebody/public_html/includes/ in /home/somebody/public_html/includes/ on line 1037

Warning: session_start() [function.session-start]: Cannot send session cache limiter - headers already sent (output started at /home/somebody/public_html/includes/ in /home/somebody/public_html/includes/ on line 1037

Warning: Table ‘./somebody_civicspace/cache’ was created with a different version of MySQL and cannot be read query: SELECT data, created, headers, expire, serialized FROM cache WHERE cid = ‘variables’ in /home/somebody/public_html/includes/ on line 128

Warning: Table ‘./somebody_civicspace/cache’ was created with a different version of MySQL and cannot be read query: UPDATE cache SET data = ‘a:1695:{s:25:\“update_watchdog_115_fixed\”;b:1;s:13:\“theme_default\”;s:8:\“foo\”;s:13:\“filter_html_1\”;s:1:\“1\”;s:20:\“node_promote_contact\”;s:1:\“0\”;s:23:\“phptemplate_extra_logic\”;a:1:{s:31:\“themes/democratica/template.php\”;s:31:\“themes/democratica/template.php\”;}s:26:\“theme_democratica_settings\”;a:9:{s:12:\“default_logo\”;s:1:\“0\”;s:9:\“logo_path\”;s:0:\“\”;s:11:\“toggle_name\”;s:1:\“1\”;s:13:\“toggle_slogan\”;s:1:\“0\”;s:14:\“toggle_mission\”;s:1:\“1\”;s:20:\“toggle_primary_links\”;s:1:\“1\”;s:22:\“toggle_secondary_links\”;s:1:\“1\”;s:24:\“toggle_node_user_picture\”;s:1:\“0\”;s: in /home/somebody/public_html/includes/ on line 128

Warning: Table ‘./somebody_civicspace/cache_page’ was created with a different version of MySQL and cannot be read query: SELECT data, created, headers, expire, serialized FROM cache_page WHERE cid = ‘’ in /home/somebody/public_html/includes/ on line 128

Warning: Table ‘./somebody_civicspace/system’ was created with a different version of MySQL and cannot be read query: SELECT name, filename, throttle FROM system WHERE type = ‘module’ AND status = 1 AND bootstrap = 1 ORDER BY weight ASC, filename ASC in /home/somebody/public_html/includes/ on line 128

Warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /home/somebody/public_html/includes/ in /home/somebody/public_html/includes/ on line 636

Warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /home/somebody/public_html/includes/ in /home/somebody/public_html/includes/ on line 637

Warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /home/somebody/public_html/includes/ in /home/somebody/public_html/includes/ on line 638

Warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /home/somebody/public_html/includes/ in /home/somebody/public_html/includes/ on line 639

Fatal error: Call to undefined function user_access() in /home/somebody/public_html/includes/ on line 449

… but then I see some weblog exploding majestically like this, then remember back to the days when I was paid good money to rewrite php glue modules so that certain other websites (fortunately not mine!) could actually use their new, hideously expensive, and designed by the brother-in-law of a vice president Web 2.0 Portal™®© instead of their stodgy old static pages design that had approximately 0% load on an elderly 500 mhz pentium III.

Right, so that’s why I never seriously considered it.

At least if I mess up the CSS on tsfr all I end up with is hideously ugly content, instead of hideously ugly error pages (or, worse yet, hideously ugly “ERROR 500” pages with no diagnostics except for the syslog() calls I wedged into the scripts.)


Aug 26, 2010

Playing around with the camera

Still life with lamp, toys, and artworks

I bought a Pentax Bellows II a month and a half ago, and it came with a genuine Pentax m42 to K-mount adapter and a magnifier-K. The m42 to K-mount adapter went into the *istDS immediately (I only have two K-mount lenses left – my temporarily out-of-service f1.2 50mm SMC prime and my almost never used except during bee season Quantaray (Cosina?) 70-300mm tele-macro lens – but I have six or seven screw mount lenses plus the Bellows II) but the magnifier-K never got used because it won’t fit over the viewfinder on my *istDS.

Today I was thinking that I should probably just resell it, because it didn’t fit on my camera (and I’m not likely to go out and buy a Spotmatic – I already have two Voightländer film cameras that I barely ever use due to the cost of developing film, as well as a Pentax auto 110 that I barely ever use for the same reason) but before doing that I wanted to see if I could jury-rig it onto the *istDS.

Nope, I couldn’t. But while I was in the throes of doing it, I took a few pictures of this occasional table, and thought that it might be interesting to play “adjust the white balance” to see if the camera had the processing smarts to compensate for low light.

It turns out it does that pretty well.

Aug 25, 2010

Amusingly over the top bicycle catastrophe of the day

I was on my way home from work on my usual direct route (from downtown I take Hawthorne, Clinton, and Division St out to the i205 bike path, then take that down to the Springwater Trail or Flavel St, then work my way back to Westmoreland via a constantly changing permutation of streets and (ex-)railroad ROW) when I fell in behind a gentleman riding his new(ish) Trek carbon fiber bike. He was running a teeny bit slower than I was, and I figured that in my good time I’d pass him, but I was still behind him when his back tire seemed to explode in a huge puff of talcum powder.

He didn’t wreck, but he skidded to a stop pretty quickly, and when I stopped to see if he needed any help we were initially confused about what happened. We though it must be a shard of glass, so he walked back to the (easily identifiable, thanks to the splotch of talcum powder) point of impact, while I looked casually at his now-flattened rear tire.

It didn’t take much of a look to see what had actually happened. Apparently he’d run over a broken spoon handle, and from the looks of things the front wheel flipped the handle up on end just in time for the rear wheel to run directly into it, thus punching it through the tread, the tube, then the tube again, and finally the sidewall, after which point it followed the rapidly deflating wheel up and around until it jammed itself into the rear brake.

I offered to pull out my repair kit and try to boot the (brand new; he said that he’d bought the tires yesterday!) now-dead rear tire so he could ride back to his LBS and replace it, but he, understandably, decided he’d just rather shoulder his lightweight bike and walk on back to the shop.

And here I thought that the nails that my 650B tires picked up during my short experiment with that wheelsize were something impressive. But now I see that they’re nothing on the catastrophe scale, because they at least had points instead of a crude chisel end.

Domestic vermin picture of the day

Cat in the window

Buckley helps me test out the image quality of a cheap point-and-shoot Nikon.

The verdict? The image quality is okay – a bit harsh under flash, but okay – but the camera is woefully slow at storing the image away so the next picture can be taken.

Aug 23, 2010

Trolley picture of the day

Old streetcar track on Clinton Street

Track from the long-vanished Richmond (WR) streetcar line, temporarily exposed now that 70-odd years of pavement have been stripped off the top of Clinton Street.

They’ll probably be paved over by tomorrow afternoon, so it’s lucky that I went home via i205 tonight.

Fun with bicycle geometry!

Compare the Soma Speedster/Stanyan (58cm version, numbers converted to imperial units for easy comparison):

seat tube 22.6"
top tube 22.6"
head tube 5.4"
s/t angle 73°
h/t angle 73.5°

The Surly Big Dummy (16" version, because the mountain biking world doesn’t seem to like the metric system):

seat tube 16"
top tube 22.6"
head tube 5.2"
s/t angle 73°
h/t angle 72°

And my 1989 Trek 1000:

seat tube 22.3"
top tube 21.7"
head tube ~5"
s/t angle 73.5°
h/t angle 73.5°

Now, in the fantasy world where I could afford to spend $750 on a frame (actually about $670 for a frame, from which I’d rip off and discard, with extreme prejudice, the unicrown fork that Surly supplies with the Big Dummy frameset, and about $80 for a cyclocross-style lugged fork) the teeniest possible Big Dummy frame would make a good replacement for the woefully too small Trek. The one benefit of the Xtracycle coming out of the mountain/utility biking world is that they assume that everyone riding an xtracycle will have some sort of upright bars that swoop waythedevilback from the headset and that the rider will be perched bolt upright on their approximately bench-shaped seat, with a loooooong virtual top tube to get room between them and their handlebars. This means that someone like me, who has a long torso and short stubby legs, but who strongly prefers drop bars (though the mustache bars on the Murray Baja Experience! are nice and comfortable, even in the current too-short-for-me-seatpost configuration,) could theoretically set up a teeny baby Big Dummy, and (modulo losing a couple of mm to the head tube angle) get much the same fit as I have right now on the MLCM.

There would be some trail differences; losing 1.5° of head tube angle pushes the trail up by 9mm (64mm vs. 53mm, assuming a 44mm fork rake, 700c wheels, and 26mm tires in both cases) which might push the bicycle over the edge into being hilariously twitchy. Or maybe not, given that the recommended tire width for Xtracycles is something in the ballpark of 2 inches, and you don’t hear very much about industry standard 26x2"ed Xtracycles twitching all over the road and being abandoned by their drivers.

I’ll have to think about this for a while. The xtracycle is okay for riding short distances (up to 30 miles, I think) so the porteur rack (brazing flux is ordered and on the way; a trip to the hardware store will get me a brazing torch, and then a bit of work filing the rails square will get me ready to braze up the rack deck) for the MLCM may be what I need for my 50-60 mile donut pickup runs. But I would like to be able to shoe-leather cargo out into the countryside for camping trips, and there’s no way I’m going to realistically carry a reasonable subset of our camping supplies out to Estacada or a campground in the Columbia gorge via any sort of porteur rack on the MLCM.

Aug 21, 2010

Cute baby picture of the day

Silas waits his turn at the haircutters

Silas waits his turn to get a haircut this afternoon.

Horrifying discovery of the day

I went out for donuts this morning, and, as I always do, I took the Trek. Sadly, the old Trek doesn’t feel like it used to; on the way up to Sandy, it felt very sluggish and heavy, and by the time I’d picked up the donuts and came rocketing down the hill, my arms, hands, and back were telling me that this was not the sort of bicycle riding they wanted to do.

The MLCM has, I’m afraid, spoiled me; after I got back from Sandy, I took the MLCM out for a short (12 mile) errand in town and it was much more comfortable to ride, even after 50 miles of pretzelling my back up the mountain and back.

Well, there’s always the gaspipe frame, I suppose. It’s ~58cm, so if it rides at all unlike a cement boat it might make a good replacement.



Aug 20, 2010

YAFYE picture of the day

Top view of a train

When I was riding home from downtown, I stopped briefly where the Springwater Trail crosses over the Yellow Menace to see if any Amtrak train would come by. There was no Amtrak train to see, but this Yellow Menace freight pulled to a stop just north of the Springwater Trail bridge so I could get a few photos.

The blurry line on the right side of the photo is part of the anti-suicide (& brick) screening along the side of the bridge.

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Storm Castle, Dust Mite, & Russell

Dust Mite at the beach.

Aug 19, 2010

Trolley picture of the day

Tri-Met 320, et al

When I was coming home from work this afternoon, I crossed Harold Street just as this two-car train thundered overhead on the trolley bridge. So I stomped on the gas and raced it the 1000 or so feet south to Foster Street station, and managed to get ahead of it and stopped and to get the Pentax out and powered up just as it finished loading and pulled away from the platform.

One of these days I guess I really have to ride one of the Clackamas cars, but, alas, as long as the i205 path parallels the line it’s really hard for me to pry myself off my bicycle to do it.

Aug 18, 2010

Traffic delays


When I was on the way to work this morning, I was delayed by a tugboat. On the way back from work, I was first delayed by a freight train up at Union Station (I was on the way to the LBS to pick up a pair of armwarmers for these moderately chilly mornings; when I wear a sweater, it gets very sweated-upon by the time I work my way up the hill to work), and then when I was returning, I was delayed by another freight that paralleled me as I rode up 2nd, but which ground to a stop blocking Division Place (but not, fortunately, 7th, so I could just turn around and ride back down there to cross over to the other wrong side of the tracks) just as I reached the crossing.

The bridge is up

Up with the Hawthorne Bridge!

A photostitched image of the (still slowly going up) Hawthorne Bridge just before Thomas the Tugboat steamed underneath.

No no no, red engines should be named James

Thomas the oceangoing tugboat engine

I’m not sure if that’s the most secure way to push a troublesome truck barge, but it looks like the chief rigger decided that a pointy-nosed tug can push anything as long as you secure it with enough rope.

Aug 17, 2010

Stupid stupid eastside promenade

On the way home from work today, I took a bunch of pictures of a northbound Coast Starlight, followed by a bunch of pictures of a southbound Cascades, and then to top it off I took a bunch of pictures of a Ross Island Sand & Gravel tugboat pushing a couple of barges north on the Willamette.

But I can’t show them to you.


Well, it’s like this. The stupid stupid eastside promenade has a floating bridge that takes it under the Burnside bridge, and that floating bridge has adjustable ramps that have sharp bumps on them. And it turns out that when I ride slowly over those g-dd-mn-ed bumps, the combination of my braking and the bumps bounces my bicycle energetically up and down.

Did my $3 battery flasher come out of my handlebar bag?


Did my $6 cellphone come out of the handlebar bag?


How about the $10 battery I use to boost power to my GPS on reasonably long brevets?

Well, that one came out of the handlebar bag, but then it skittered along the deck of the bridge and came to a stop in the middle of the walkway so I could pick it up.

What about the $130 camera?

Well, that one jumped out of the handlebar bag, and then, apparently, leapt through the railings on the bridge and fell in the g-dd-mn Willamette River.

And then the handlebar bag latched itself closed again, so I could get the surprise of discovering that the camera wasn’t there after I opened it up and stuffed the stupid booster battery in.

Imagine my delight when I discovered this.

Imagine my delight when I looked carefully around the bridge (including climbing over the railings and looking on the nice wide aprons that sit on top of the pontoons) and saw no sign of the now submersible Nikon point and shoot camera. I did see an amazing collection of AA and AAA batteries, so I’m not the only person who’s had his bicycle spontaneously eject components when riding over this particular deathtrap. But I’m still not very effing happy about this turn of events.

And now I get to order a fistful of used point and shoot cameras from KEH and, under the 15 day return deadline, evaluate them to see which ones will work as a replacement for the Nikon point and shoot that went to its watery doom today, and then return the ones that don’t work out (if all of them work out, I’ll just tuck the others aside for the inevitable day when the preferred one dies for one reason or another.)

And I’m going to stop riding my bicycle on the eastside promenade. It might be slower to run up 12th Ave, but at least that street wasn’t built with square-edged expansion joints.

Aug 16, 2010

Cute baby picture of the day

Russell, Silas, Dust Mite, and Storm Castle

Russell, Silas, and Dust Mite working on Storm Castle last saturday afternoon.

The view from Yaquina Head

guano island

20 or so images, photostitched together to make a large image of most of one of the bird poop covered rocky islands that used to be part of Yaquina Head 10s or 100s of thousands of years ago. I didn’t get a picture of the lower right corner, thus the mysterious black outcrop.

What you don’t see in this picture is what happened just after I took these photos; a bald eagle swooped in and grabbed a seagull chick, but was then set upon and chased away (after dropping said chick – Russell said he saw something in its claws, which it then dropped; when I saw its feet, they were empty-taloned) by a mob of a dozen or so irate adult seagulls. The last we saw of the bald eagle was it making a beeline towards the shore, followed by a line of seagulls who were anxious to redefine the whole idea of an apex predator.

What you don’t smell in this picture is the stench of a long-dead sea lion that had washed up on the shore in one of the little tidal coves on the south side of the head. The wind was blowing north, so the delicate aroma of rotting megafauna was blowing across the end of the head, maddening at least one turkey vulture who spent the entire time we were there sailing back and forth and back and forth along the head, hoping that all of those pesky primates would just GO AWAY and leave her to her meal.

Aug 14, 2010

Railroad picture of the day

A solitary boxcar sits alongside I5 south of Salem

There are quite a few railways in the Willamette Valley, but it was a hot day and not very much was using them. This car gives a pretty good indication about how enthusiastically things were moving in the 100°F+ heat today.

Meanwhile, on the coast, it’s foggy, 50°F, and drizzling. Ah, Oregon.

Aug 13, 2010

A circuitous ride home

Watching the ships go by

Ride past Kelley Point Park, stop and take a picture. It’s the law.

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Sweet Home Dust Mite

Dust Mite sits on my handlebar bag in Sweet Home during my second loop of the Eden’s Gate 400k last weekend.

Out on the line

Under the St Johns Bridge

The east (under)side of the St. Johns Bridge at about 4pm this afternoon.

Aug 11, 2010

Railroad picture of the day

OPR 1202 on the OLCC lead

OPR 1202 rests in the evening sunlight.

The Arc of the Universe is long but it bends towards Justice

  1. (Reuters) - Mexico’s supreme court on Thursday upheld a landmark law that allows gay marriage in the capital city, bucking a challenge raised by the conservative government of President Felipe Calderon.
  2. (CBS) - Mexican High Court Affirms Same Sex Marriages … All 31 States Must Recognize Same-Sex Marriages Performed in the Capital …
  3. (VOA) - Costa Rica Court Rejects Vote on Same-Sex Civil Unions. Admittedly, Costa Rica is still an unjust state, but the high court there recognises that civil rights should not be subject to mob rule.

Aug 10, 2010

Cute baby picture of the day

Two bears in a sushi joint

Russell reads while Silas tries to distract him.

Aug 09, 2010

A happy surprise

EPT 100 - front view

When I was coming home from work this afternoon, I noticed that the working Eng! wasn’t sitting on one of the enginehouse leads at the EPT’s industrial park terminal. So I swerved out of my way down into the industrial park, and saw the 100 sitting out on the McBrod Ave lead. I don’t know if the EPT even uses this engine anymore, but it’s always nice to be able to see (and take pictures) of it without a chain-link fence getting in the way.

Cute baby picture of the day


Silas wanders along the riverbank in Mary S Young state park yesterday afternoon.

YAFYE picture of the day

The roadswitcher hustle

A pair of SW1500s fly past Portland Traction’s East Portland yard at about 8:30am.

I’d heard these switchers blowing for the 11th/12th/Division crossing as I went under the 99e viaduct, and they sounded urgent enough so I didn’t think there was a chance I could make it down to the crossings by the Hawthorne bridge before the train went by. So I pulled off the road at the south end of the East Portland yard, and pulled out the mighty Pentax just as the lead engine popped out from under the viaduct.

The only adjustment I had time to do was to close the aperture to f5.6 (the lens was already focused at 20 meters … ∞, which was lucky because I’m as bad as the *istDS autofocus when I’ve not had my morning tea) before clicking away.

Aug 08, 2010

Out on the line (a last-minute 400k? Whyevernot?)

Gallon House bridge

I hadn’t been paying much attention to the orrando summer schedule, because every event was either (a) not planned or (b) a long way away from Portland and difficult to get to if you were going to use your bicycle to get there.

But for some reason I looked in at the schedule page a couple of weeks ago, and found that the summer 400k was going to be a reissue of the At Eden’s Gate 400k which I enjoyed so much this spring. But money was short, and I didn’t know if I had the horsepower to do it. So I waffled and put off deciding, until the start of this week rolled around and I decided that I might as well sign up for the thing and make up my mind if it didn’t look like we would be doing anything else on saturday.

When wednesday rolled around, I’d mainly talked myself into do it because the field of riders was evenly spread between the really fast riders and people who ride the speed I usually go. But aside from deciding I’d do it, I didn’t have enough organization to actually do anything about preparing until friday night, when (still slightly waffling) I stopped at the Big Big Big Store to get some cookie bars and (nasty, but useful for cramming electrolytes into my system ) Clif shot blocks, then went home, posted my scheduled Friday Dust Mite Blogging, set the alarm clock for 3am, and, still thinking “well, maybe I’ll go” went to sleep.

Unlike the loop in May, I hadn’t made any formal plans to ride with anyone, so my idea was to ride out to Wilsonville (much closer than Forest Grove – it’s 14 miles and a tiny bit of change from home to the Wilsonville La Quinta if I take Macadam, McVey, and Stafford Road,) try to move out fast enough to ensure that I was in the middle of the pack, and if I ever found myself dead effing last I’d DNF and bolt for home so I wouldn’t end up wandering around lost in the countryside north of Salem in the middle of the night.

And it was a sunny day, so I was hoping I’d be able to see what the Willamette Valley looked like in broad daylight.

Unfortunately the alarm clock didn’t wake me up on Saturday. No, I found myself wide awake at 2:30am in the morning, and after 15 minutes of trying to will myself back to sleep for just a couple more minutes I gave up, got up, turned off the alarm clock, and with not less than a few wistful glances back at my warm and cozy bed, dressed and reflectorized myself, ate a bowl of cereal, then rolled out the door and sailed south for Wilsonville, arriving at the starting line with 25 or so minutes to go before the brevet started.

And after a few minutes ogling a handsome new bicycle, 5am rolled around and the (small) mob rolled southwards away from Wilsonville.

A couple of the faster riders did the traditional disappearing with a poof, leaving nothing but vaguely bicycle shaped swirls of dust, but, in what has to be an absolute first for me, none of the rest of the fast riders vanished, and in the 30-odd miles down to Silverton I found myself in the nontraditional position of sharing (and occasionally leading) a paceline with the fast riders. (Including a stretch where I found myself leading the paceline for a couple of miles until my legs started to ache and I realized I’d been pulling a couple of the fast boys along at 20-odd mph. Ooops.) So I didn’t manage (again) to get any pictures of anything north of the Gallon House bridge, because I’m not confident enough of my bicycle handling skills to juggle a camera and closely follow other bicycles at the same time (and, in addition, I remember riding by a pileup on Meridian last time around where a paceline ate a bicycle wheel during a wreck, and I didn’t want to have the starring role in an remake of that wreck.)

The road south (and up) from Silverton

This unusual turn of events didn’t last past Silverton, because when you get onto the Cascades Highway to Sublimity & Stayton, it pitches up fairly steeply and, even though there was no headwind this time, I still climb like an anchor. I kept up with the climb out of downtown Silverton, but when the road pitched up again just south of the Oregon Garden I geared down and fell off the back, never to see them again.

But that was fine, because it meant I could unlimber the camera and take a few pictures as I rolled across this spur of the Cascades on my way down to the convenience store at Sublimity and then the steep ramps along Cole School Road.

I can appreciate(?) Cole School Road more these days. It’s stupidly steep (almost to the point where if I was a cheating man I’d ride the Stayton-Scio highway all the way into Scio, then jog two miles north to the Schimanek bridge (sure, it would be longer, but it would be flatter)) but those ramps are short stupidly steep ramps, and when I hit them without 20 miles or so of soul-sapping headwinds it was merely a case of dropping into my lowest gear (~35") and rowing the mighty ark up the 80 vertical feet of >20% grades. In the grand scheme of things I’d say that Cole School Road, nasty as it is, is not as bad as Buckner Creek Road, partially because it doesn’t go on as long, but mainly because all of this nasty climbing is almost completely redeemed by the vertical plunge off a cliff that is Richardson Gap Road. (~40mph dropping down that road, and I wasn’t even in the drops on the MLCM.)

And south of that, it was simply a high-speed run south towards Mohawk with camera in hand. Picture of my shadow on the bike? Check! Every covered bridge I saw, including the one we didn’t go through? Check! Railroad equipment (at least the stuff I saw)? Check! Dust Mite on the line? Check!

It was so bright and sunny, and the wind was so much either not there or moderately south, that I didn’t even realize I was getting sunburned to a crisp until after it was too late for the suntan lotion to do anything other than moisturizing. It ended up taking me just a little under 10 hours to run the first 200km of the loop (and another 13(?) minutes to reach what I consider to be the “official” halfway point at the Mohawk Post Store.)

My initial pace could not stand, of course – I’d lost a lot of momentum on the long and relentless climb up Brush Creek Road to the nuclear free pass at the Lane county border (And I will also point out that Lane County has, for some inexplicable reason, chipsealed the upper reaches of Marcola Road, thus converting a bumpy but really fast descent into a rattlely and slower drop down to the last covered bridge on the loop. Sigh) – and by the time I’d reached the Mohawk control Michal Young (Salsa Casseroll, DHCP license plate) and Wayne Myer (Trek 26" to 700c conversion) had caught up to me and ended up riding with me for the rest of the loop.

And one other thing of note happened after departing from the Mohawk Post Store; the route turned north, went out into the Willamette River valley, and proceeded into a soul-sapping headwind all the way up to Albany.

We were not happy campers by the time we reached the Albany city limits. Defensive pacelining reduced the pain and despair down to a dull ache, but we were still hungry and sore by the time we jumped over to the west side of the Willamette and took a short detour to get fud-shaped-objects at a local A&W. And by the time we had finished eating and set out on the road again the sun had finally set and we had to ride the rest of the way in the dark.

  • It’s a long way from Albany to Independence when it’s dark out, but …
  • we were early enough so that things were still open there, and then …
  • it wasn’t that far to Salem, and …
  • the lower reaches of River Road have been repaved, saving us some of the more excitingly rough pavement that used to be there.

One unhappy thing I noticed on this loop is that the combination of waking up at 2:30am and then running like mad to the south meant that I was starting to get tired in Albany. So the last 50 miles of the loop (in the dark, I will point out) had more time than I wanted where I was riding on autopilot while I tried to think of something to distract my attention and wake me up. Sodapop worked, though it ended up rasping the inside of my throat, but the seeming maze of twisty highways all alike north of Salem (which are actually fairly direct, but don’t seem that way after you’ve crossed the Oregon Electric for the fifth time) just went on forever and made the last 20 miles of the loop seem like 50 miles just by themselves.

And by the time we rolled into Wilsonville for the end of the trip, we were moving at not much more than 10 mph (which seemed really fast for me; if Wayne and Michal hadn’t have been roaring along at that lightning speed, I probably would have been down to about 5mph, punctuated by repeated stops to try and figure out just where the devil I was.

And when I rolled back home on Sunday morning (I crashed in Wilsonville for about 4 hours because I didn’t think I could make it back home safely at 2am) I was moving so slowly that it took me over a hour and a half to ride the distance that took a hour the morning before.

There were some things that didn’t work very well on this loop, which I may need to revisit later.

  1. When I dismantled large parts of my bicycle looking for a squeak I reassembled it with the seatpost about half an inch higher than before. This was a mistake, because it subtly changed my seating position. When I’m riding energetically, my pelvis rocks a little more, which means that my underwear tends to shift and ball up in uncomfortable positions. And when I’m riding for a long time – like, for example, on a 400km loop – the rocking and sweating meant I ended up with a saddle-shaped contact rash just where you’d expect it to be. Some of this might be an artifact of the (lightweight) summer underwear, which tends to move around when I don’t want it to, but I’ve done close to as long loops with the same clothing and the seat lower and have /not/ needed to break out the A&D ointment to repair my epidermal surfaces after returning home.

  2. The other, and sadder, defect is that I’ve done a rivendell-style twine & shellac job on the MLCM’s handlebar tape, which, even though it looks very nice, has the terrible side effects of

    • becoming slimy after I’ve ridden the bicycle long enough to get sweaty hands (I don’t tend to wear gloves, because padded gloves make my fingers go numb), and
    • not being as resilient as the unshellaced handlebar tape, which makes it more painful to hang onto for long periods of time.

I can fix the saddle height problem pretty easily. I can’t fix the tape & shellac problem quite so easily, and I’ll have to think about it for a while.

But, aside from those and a few other tiny details (when I braze up the front rack, I’m going to have to put in a stand for a dashboard light that shines on the cuesheet, and then I’ll be able to see where I’m supposed to be going at night instead of having to rely on the kindness of strangers) this further makes me think that 400km is close to the ideal length for a day out on a bicycle.


Ways to be completely unproductive on a Saturday

Hungry Hill MLCM

Getting on my bicycle and riding, via a moderately direct route, from home to Wilsonville, then onwards to just north of Eugene and back to Wilsonville is a nice way to make certain that I’ll get absolutely nothing else done during the day.

265 miles in ~22½ hours (~21¼ hours on the brevet, the balance in the ferry move from Sellwood south,) starting with a 3:30 am departure from home and returning to Wilsonville at 2am Sunday morning, at a brevet speed of just under 12mph (and a moving average of 13.8mph, thanks to a ~18mph sprint from Wilsonville to Silverton, where the hills put an end to that nonsense.)

Also: pictures!

Aug 06, 2010

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Dust Mite &amp; rando junk

I’m trying to get ready to reride the Eden’s Gate R400 tomorrow (at the wonderful hour of 5am, which means that I need to be awake and on the road by 3effing30am. At least it’s not out in Forest Grove, which would mean I’d need to be awake and on the road no later than 3am on the dot) and Dust Mite is helping me load everything up.

The reflective tape? Well, my mandatory ankle reflective thingies have gone walkabout, so I’m simply going to do reflective footbinding before I stagger out the door tomorrow morning.

Aug 05, 2010

Takumar Sunset

Takumar Sunset

When I was on the last leg home from work tonight (after stopping for dinner at Laughing Planet) I reached 99e just as the sun was beginning its terminal plunge towards the horizon. So I had to take a picture, and got the amusing result of the aperture causing a six-sided halo around our local star.

Aug 04, 2010

Correcting bigotry, California-style

Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

-via the SF examiner.

A slightly bigger cat


She was wandering towards the lion’s den, but paused to glare at the primate with the camera before she went in.

How to delay my commute

delaying my commute

First, get stopped on 4th Ave by trolley construction (the piers for the bridge over Division St, the Yellow Menace mainline, & Portland Traction’s East Portland yard,) and then, after getting past that, seeing that the Hawthorne Bridge was up so that the Western Comet could go sailing by with another load of gravel.

I didn’t get to the bridge fast enough to see the Western Comet go underneath, but even as it stood I still had to wait for the bridge to finish closing after I took this picture and went up to join the morning Hawthorne Bridge bicycle commuting mob.

Bicycles are not healthy for lenses and other optical mechanisms

stupid stupid filter ring

When I got into work this morning I noticed, to my intense dismay, that the filter ring on my 55mm Super-Tak had followed the lead of my 50mm SMC lens and rattled its way loose from the rest of the lens.

Fortunately, this Takumar lens was made to be easier to assemble than my SMC is; if I get an eyeglass screwdriver it will be easy to (after dabbing the screws in lock-tite) screw the filter ring back on, then screw the bezel onto it. The SMC, on the other hand, will probably require that I drill holes into the sides of the focus ring so I can fit the screws back into the holes in the sides of the lens barrel (can’t just buy a new SMC f1.2, because in the three years since I bought mine the prices, even on ebay, have doubled and paying $500 for a piece of glass (even if it’s good glass) is much too rich for my blood.)

(You may ask why I want fast glass; this picture was taken at 1/60th second @ f1.8 with ambient light at work. That’s why.)

Aug 02, 2010

Life on the river

The Western Comet pushes a barge full of gravel towards the Hawthorne Bridge

I was on my way home from work this afternoon when I realized that all of the Willamette River bridges were opening up to let something through. So I scampered as quickly as I could to the Morrison Bridge, and was able to get pictures of the tugboat Western Comet shoving a barge full of gravel towards the open span of the Hawthorne Bridge.

I didn’t mess up the exposure this time.

Domestic vermin picture of the day

dorrie hides under the sofa

When Dorrie decides to hide away from all human contact it’s fairly difficult to get a picture of her. So I brought out the flash, poked the camera under the sofabed, and blindly clicked away for a while.

1 comment