Apr 30, 2011
A pair of Tacoma Rail units wait for a clear signal just southeast of Olympia, Washington.
Apr 29, 2011
Still life with wrought iron, wine, and Dust Mite.
Apr 27, 2011
A few months ago I submitted the Hills to the Yeah! loop to RUSA as a permanent route, and today (after a couple of rounds of route tweaking) it was finally approved. 6500-7500 feet of climbing (depending on whether you trust my GPS or bikely’s routemapper) in 201km.
I’ve got a few more routes that I need to start running through the permanents mill (Sellwood-Devil’s Backbone (105km), Sellwood to Hood & Back (305km)) and then I’ve got to set up a westside 200k (probably Sellwood-Aurora-Newberg-Banks-Skyline-St Johns) before I start making some stupidly long loops, but that’s going to have to wait for a few weeks until after I do a for RUSA credit checkride of permanent #1134.
Apr 26, 2011
My supply of cordora had run down to just about nothing, and I needed to get some aqua and yellow fabric for one of the bags I’m making, so I took the mlcm down to the Mill End Store to refill my supply heap. I walked out of the store with 5 yards of cordora in a variety of colors (aqua, gold, red, burgundy), 10 yards of bias tape, three yards of ¾ths velcro, and a fistful of black thread, d-rings, and fastex snaps.
It took a while to wedge it into the rando bag (I was also carrying the pentax to get photographic evidence of my trip) but it did all fit finally. And, wow, it certainly made quite a difference in the handling – bumps feel a lot different when you’re carrying a large wad of soft material on the front of the bicycle.
Mavis poses in front of a painting in the living room.
Apr 25, 2011
Silas got a late birthday present today, and it’s just the thing to make the house complete. Doesn’t every house need a stuffed alligator head?
Apr 24, 2011
Mount Hood from Devil’s Backbone.
I prerode the Sellwood-Devil’s Backbone populaire today, and aside from tiny details like the autogenerated cue sheet being hilariously wrong in a couple of places (and there being a couple of honkingly vertical ramps at about mp 18) it’s a lovely almost-direct route from home to Devil’s Backbone and back (“back” meaning “via Voodoo Too” for people who don’t get their donuts from Joe’s.) If I plunk an open control in Sandy, one in Pleasant Home (there’s a convenience store and a bar there,) and one in the ballpark of Voodoo Too, then set up an info control out at the end of the loop on Devil’s Backbone that will give a fairly well serviced, but climby enough to satisfy the suicidal, short loop for an afternoon’s riding.
I, however, stretched the loop out to the east end of Marmot, which converted the whole loop from a 65 mile one to 80 miles, including a couple of miles of climbing up the east side of Devil’s Backbone (much more doable in the 30" gear I’ve got on the mlcm now, but still unpleasant enough to remember for a while.) It ended up being exactly 7 hours to ride 129.5 km, which, even though it’s not by any means fast is at least fast enough to keep within brevet minimums.
Oddly, there were very few other bicyclists out after I got away from the Portland Metro area; I ran into one of the framebuilders who frequents Tarckbike while I was climbing Marmot (we chatted for a while until we reached the last uphill pitch, and then he drifted ahead of me, never to be seen again) and three riders went by downhill while I was winding uphill out of the Sandy River gorge, but that was it. Odd, for such a sunny warm day.
And I wasted a lot of time taking pictures of the newly scenic parts of the loop, too.
Apr 23, 2011
It was pretty rainy in the middle of last weekend’s R400 so you’d think that I’d be wary of doing any log rides until next weekend (I’m riding a flèche next Friday/Saturday, then bolting for an Amtrak station so I can come back home to get a nights sleep before going to a concert on Sunday,) but no, now that my knee doesn’t hurt and my toes have stopped being waterlogged all those unpleasant memories have gone away and I’m going to ride up towards Zigzag to verify a route I put together for a friend (I was going to ride it with friends on Sunday, but easter brunch trumps it, and I’m not going to let them have all the fun.) And, anyway, this will give me a chance to test my new alpine gearing on the ramps that convinced me I needed it in the first place.
The rain, the long hours of riding, the third round of feeling like I’m wandering aimlessly in the trackless wastes between Salem and Wilsonville? It’s as if I am recalling them from a distantly remembered dream, so I can be unpleasantly surprised anew the next time I go out into the howling rain.
Apr 22, 2011
So I took them off the Ava handlebars and put them onto the Nitto B135s I’d had on the mlcm (after first removing the Shimano R400s that were previously on the B135s – I guess I’ll drop them onto eBay in the next couple of days) and re-rewrapped the cork(ish) tape I bought from Rivendell last spring. Note the elegant black electricians tape – this is so if I need to adjust the brifters I’ll be able to do it with less screaming and frothing at the mouth (except for the tiny detail that I didn’t make the left side shift cable quite long enough – oh well!) than it would have been if I’d whipped the ends with twine.
Dust Mite moves up in the world.
Apr 21, 2011
EPT 100, as seen from the foot of Division St.
Apr 19, 2011
Part of the work being done on the (finally under construction) Milwaukie interurban line is the relocation of
Portland Traction Oregon Pacific’s East Portland yard, because the interurban line is going to go right across the middle of the existing yard (with, I may add, a grade crossing, so people may be able to see, in just 5-6 years, a pair of modern low-floor trolleys waiting for a GS-4 to clear the crossing on a southbound Holiday Express) and this means the yard has to move out of the way.
The fenced off track is the start of the new yard – it’s been leased(?) to ORHF to store their collection of passenger cars (the FA and a bunch of other equipment have been hauled away to a siding in NW Portland, where they’re going to stay until the ORHF yard is built) – but presumably
EPT OPR has arranged it so they can tuck the working Eng! inside the chainlink + barbed wire fence for safekeeping.
So there it sits on a sunny Tuesday afternoon, just waiting to interrupt my bike ride with a photo opportunity.
Three geese fly from Westmoreland Park over to Oaks Bottom.
Does it count as air keyboarding if a physical object is standing in for the keyboard?
Apr 18, 2011
It’s not a proper brevet without picking up interesting things by the side of the road, and the latest incarnation of the At Eden’s Gate 400 was no exception. On the way down to the Eugene area, I spotted a little taillight/blinkie sitting forlornly by the side of the road, and had to turn back to recover it (and discovered that it still works. It comes with a couple of super-annoying flash modes, but they demonstrate that the optics are still in good condition. If I don’t want to ever use it as a taillight (it’s not dynamo-powered, so it’s less useful than it otherwise would be) I can always tear it apart and wedge the optics into a different container, then use one of the myriads of circuits on the net to properly power it); then, later, after I’d finished the official brevet and was riding the ~14 miles home, I spotted a screwdriver sitting forlornly by the side of Stafford Road. My rando junk toolbox is not complete, and this screwdriver is just what I needed.
Apr 17, 2011
There are likely to be revisions here, because I’m kind of tired today and thus my prose is a bit more skeletal than usual. But
the pictures can be found on Flickr, in the At Eden’s Gate 2011 set.
Woke up at 3:30, rode down to Wilsonville (a hair under 14 miles)
with Ed G. and Kevin B. for the 5am start.
Was thinking of riding it fast, but got caught behind a velo traffic
jam, then a long stoplight at Arndt (the e/w between Buttville and
Canby.) Didn’t want to try and time-trial to catch up to my by-now
mile+ ahead friends, so dialed it down and rambled.
Encountered the aftermath of a bike-car collision (no fatalities, maybe
not even any broken bones, due to the quick reflexes of the auto driver.)
Saw Lesli L and her sweetie
Sara T proceeding southwards in the company of Kevin and
Joel Metz. Asked to ride with
them & spent the rest of the loop (except for a couple of places where
I ran ahead to do quick detours, and a few of the longer climbs, where
I ended up far in the rear as is traditional) tagging along.
Made it up the steep ramps on Cole School Road without either walking
or dying, then was rewarded for
it by a screamingly fast (75kph) descent down Richardson Gap Road to
the Shimanek bridge.
No rain, just scattered drizzle, as we rode south to the info controls
at various covered bridges and railroad crossings. Sprinted ahead on
Gilkey so I could detour half a mile down Goar Rd to get a picture of
the covered bridge there.
Lots of conversation about many things, ranging from stories about
through care and feeding of bicycles, and finally to saying that
the weather was really good compared to the forecast.
And then it started to rain (~10 miles north of Sweet Home)
In to Sweet Home for a longish stop at the Thriftway. Chatted with
Lynne F and Michel Y, who were
riding the loop together (they were running at about the same rate
as we were, so we kept hopscotching until we coalesced together
at the Earnest covered bridge (for 60 or so miles before Lynne
needed to stop for food and a quick nap.))
South of Sweet Home, in the pouring rain, I bolted a mile or so
ahead of the rest of the group so I could get photos of the Crawfordville
covered bridge from somewhere other than the main road. Managed to
get far enough ahead so I could leisurely set up to take pictures as
the rest of the group approached.
Crept s-l-o-w-l-y up Brush Creek Road to the Marcola Road nuclear-free
summit, which was socked in with enough rain to soak me to the skin
and start leaking through the threads on the bottom of my handlebar
Kevin was talking about packing it in, so I tried to convince him
that he might as well finish since there weren’t any hills (worth
mentioning; there were some short ramps, but nothing like the ones
coming down.) Alas, my efforts to convince him failed and he finally
DNFed in Harrisburg.
It was raining, so headwinds coming down the valley would have been
completely miserable. So, by a miracle, there not only wasn’t a
headwind but there was, at least part of the time, a little bit of
a tailwind, so we could squelch northwards without as much pain and
despair (the roads from the I-5 underpass to Harrisburg are very
flatland farmroad – they are long, unsheltered, and boring.)
I got a call from the best
about 5 miles south of Harrisburg, and then had to ride like mad to
catch up with everyone BEFORE they reached Harrisburg and vanished
into the maze of convenience stores there. I did. Barely.
In Harrisburg, we decided that this would be a good time to
relayer/additional layer/dry layer, because even though it
was still raining the whole idea of riding in sodden clothing
was getting a little bit old. But by the time we’d finished
(assisted, oddly enough, by Kevin’s decision to DNF; he had
brought along changes of clothing and loaned out layers to
people who needed them now that he was going to get a ride
home instead. He loaned me a (too large, which was good
because I could fit it over the top of my ears) cap to take
the place of my poor sodden cotton cap, and a pair of REI
wind-resistant gloves that I used instead of my soaked-at-the-top-of-Marcola
wool gloves) the rain had tapered off considerably, and by the time we rolled out
it had, thankfully, stopped and would not return for the remainder of the loop.
And then onto Peoria road in the deepening dusk. And into
Albany in the dark, after everything on the west side of
town had closed down for the night. And after a quick snack
on the patio seating of a closed gas station, off to Independence
(the penultimate control) which was equally shut down (except
for a few nightclubs, which was not particularly useful.)
And finally, across the river and up into Salem, with a stop for
coffee at the first open convenience store we found. And then,
with 35 miles to go, we wandered off into the county roads north
of Keizer, where we promptly got lost (Keene Road is not the
most obvious exit from River Road) but recovered our bearings
when we reached the River Road/SR219 interchange and could dodge
east and rejoin the route.
And after a brief stop to wait for a Portland & Western train on
the Oregon Electric, we proceeded over to Boones Ferry Road, across
the I-5 bridge, then up to the end of the line, where we staggered
in 24h25 after we pulled out in the (previous) morning.
And then I showered, napped for about a hour and a half, then got
back on the bicycle and proceeded, slowly, home for a loop distance
of 278 miles and a little bit of change.
If I hadn’t yoinked something in my left knee, I’m sure that
rando amnesia would have already set in.
I shall now recite the traditional listing of things that worked:
I’d put on the
proved to be successful at helping me climb shorter ramps (the ones out of
Silverton, then the horrible wall that is the second ramp on Cole School Road)
at a pace that was actually comparable to everyone else.
- Cloth tape over rubber inner tube still doesn’t work for me, but cloth
tape over cork works much better.
- Brifters work better than downtube shifters. I misaligned the rear
shifter cable a little bit when putting the front derailer on, but despite
that I was able to quickly compensate for hesitant shifting by a quick
And things that didn’t work:
- I discovered a really important design flaw
with the SKS fenders I’ve got on the mlcm – it has the fender strut
mounts attached inside the fender, so water cascading off the
front tire is channelled out to the sides of the fender, and then
blown back onto my (rapidly soaked) shoes. Honjo fenders, for
all of their “you need to mortgage your house to afford them”
price-point, have the decided advantage of having external strut
mounts, which don’t work quite so well as shoe-wettening devices.
- I’m not sure, but I think that the blingy expensive Shimano cassette
I’ve got on the rear of the mlcm may have already had the 14t cog worn
past usability. If I load the bicycle when I’m in 42×14, the
chain hops, but not if I’m in 42×12 or 42×16..
- 27 hours (home to Wilsonville, Wilsonville to Wilsonville) is a long
time to be on a bicycle.
- If I’m going to keep using the big rando bag, I need to
- take the Ava handlebars off and replace them with my Nitto B135 bars, because they’re just a little bit larger and don’t have to worry about having colliding with the bag, and
- get a lower-trail fork. When the rando bag is fully loaded, the front end of the bicycle wants to wander when I’m going up a steep grade, and it wants to shimmy when
I’m descending at high speeds.
At the crack of midnight in Independence, in front of the public restrooms which are apparently always closed, and in particular are closed when the bars there are
We were still 4 hours – and one last coffee stop – away from Wilsonville at this point.
Apr 15, 2011
Dust Mite examines Ed’s rando bag (which is working better now that I took it back and corrected the seams that I managed to miss the first time around.)
Apr 13, 2011
In an effort to change my climbing speed from glacial to merely slow, I’m trying to see if giving myself a lower gear would help or just make me slower. So I’ve moved the 42t chainwheel out to the edge of the crank and added a 34t chainwheel behind it, under the hope that a couple of more low gears can keep me pedalling a bit faster so I won’t completely stall when I slow down under load.
It’s been a real pain to set up. The noname Sugino crankset (bought from ebay) I’ve got on the mlcm has a ridiculously narrow Q measurement, so if the derailer cage isn’t adjusted just right the outer plate rubs against the drive-side crankarm. But the outer plate of the derailer cage (the derailer is a cheap Sora 3400) is sculpted, which results in a very narrow throat, which ends up with the chain rubbing against it if it isn’t set up just right in the other direction.
And my 42t chainwheel isn’t completely flat, but shimmies in and out by about 1/10th mm, so I’ve really got to play with exact tolerances to make everything work.
And while I’m doing all this, I need to work with the cable tension so that the brifters will properly brift the derailer to one side or another.
I do have one option I can do if I can’t get these to work; the Trek has a Truvativ crankset on it (a 3-ring Touro that I’ve converted into a 2-ring superalpine (42/28) arrangement) that I can pull and put onto the mlcm. This will at least give more room between the big ring and the crankarm, even though it’s at the cost of 2-3cm’s worth of Q.
Apr 12, 2011
Silas got a couple of gift certificates from the frozen yogurt joint up the street, so we went there this afternoon so he could use some of them up. And they were too busy looking at this picturebook to notice that I was taking photos.
Apr 11, 2011
After approximately 20 years of religiously using downtube shifters on my (two) bicycles (I’ve ridden bikes with thumb shifters, which were okay, and bikes with twist shifters, which were absolutely horrid,) I became curious about how brifters would work. I spent some time doing lowball bids on ebay (none of which actually worked, funnily enough) until a friend of mine loaned me a pair of them to try out.
So I dug out an old pair of handlebars (Ava handlebars, off the junker frame I recovered from a trashpile), lashed the brifters to them, then wrapped the bars up in a couple of layers of inner tube with cloth tape over the top, and replaced my normal handlebars and shifter (1×9 – I’ve got two brifters, but only one of them is actually in use) for a brief test interval.
Holy goodness. The levers are right there, so I can actually do ridiculous things like shift when I’m standing up or honking (slowly) up a steep ramp. And they’re about as intuitively obvious as a bicycle component can get; I’ve gotten a pretty good feel for how far to shove friction shifters to get the gearing to where I want, but there’s still a certain degree of having to deliberately trim the gears to cut back on the annoying grinding when the chain starts cuddling up to the next highest gear. But with brifters, I just push the button and I’m there, with no fuss, muss, or bother.
The only problem is that this means I’m going to have to go out and buy a pair of brifters (or two.) I wonder if I can sell the pair of Silver shifters, the Arabesque shifters, and the single shifter that was on the mlcm for enough money to buy a pair or two of used ones?
Apr 10, 2011
Mavis and Buckley guard the staircase.
The Piled Higher & Steeper loop travels along many poorly surfaced back roads, which combines with my 26/25mm tires (26mm front, 25mm back) to make a fairly rattly ride. So rattly, as a matter of fact, that it vibrated (or finished vibrating) a poor weld on one of my el-cheapo silver bottle cages apart, and I then spent the next 77 miles fretting that the bottle in that cage would spontaneously eject as I vibrated along the rest of the loop.
I thought about firing up the torch, setting the flame to disintegrate, then trying to reweld the aluminum cage, but that would have cost me about $5 in oxygen (tiny little non-refillable oxygen bottles. Bah. I need to get a full-sized rig
and start brazing up bicycle frames so I can use cheaper refillable bottles) which is approximately $5 more than it would cost me to drag out the old neon green bottle cage that used to be on the trek before Mama took my Kodachrome away.
The neon green will contrast nicely with the zip-ties I’m using as wiring harnesses.
Update: It turned out that I also had a Bontrager (from the days just before the colossus of Waterloo absorbed Bontrager’s company, I think) custard yellow bottle cage, and it’s not assembled with a one-piece mounting plate and two ribbon welds. It may be more durable, so I’ll use it instead.
Apr 09, 2011
Ed Groth, Theo R, and I rode the Piled Higher & Steeper loop today, which was the first time I’d ever ridden up and down Marmot Road.
Boy, was that an oversight. Devil’s Backbone is an extraordinary pain to reach (it’s at ~1500 feet, and even though Marmot Road isn’t a killing climb it is relentless) but the views are spectacular, no matter where you are on the road.
Even after 7500 feet of climbing it was still worth noticing.
Apr 08, 2011
Dust Mite inspects a new rando bag I just sewed up to the point where it can be used. The bag isn’t finished, and may end up being scrapped, because I tried a variant pattern where the lid was a separate piece of fabric, but didn’t assemble it correctly; the back flap is noticably erratic, and the pocket inside the lid doesn’t have a complete top on it.
I sewed this up for a friend of mine, so I’ll give it to him for a test ride this weekend, then take it back and either finish the unsewn parts or rip the top off and assemble a new one with better pieceing. I’m sure that Dust Mite will inspect the final product as well.
Apr 07, 2011
I put another couple of hours into the front rack today, in the form of first cleaning the rust off, then brazing on a couple of eyelets and a lampholder, then rattlecanning (with Rustoleum red; an almost perfect match for the red paint on the mlcm) it to keep it from rerusting.
The only p-clamps left on the bicycle now are the ones that attach the struts to the fork legs, but I’m going to have to braze a pair of eyelets into the fork legs to rid myself of these pesky clamps.
Apr 06, 2011
It is hard for me to take pictures of my children, even when it’s their birthday.
Yesterday afternoon, I saw that the p-clamp holding the headlight onto the mlcm had come loose and slipped down the fork blade, so I decided that this morning would be the ideal time to quickly braze up the lamp mount that I’d cut a couple of weeks ago. So, this morning I dragged my torch out to the front porch, clamped the main part of the lamp mount into my work vice (so I could braze a headless m5 bolt onto the end of the holder), fired up and adjusted the flame, then settled down to heat the pieces up to the proper melty temperature.
Just as the flux started to get all nice and melty and I was leaning in to stick the brazing rod into the flame the whole thing flipped from a nice hot blue oxygen flame over to a lazy orangish gas flame. I fiddled a little bit with the oxygen regulator, then a lot with the oxygen regulator, but nothing happened.
Shoot. That meant that the oxygen lasted maybe 20 minutes, and since I’m using an el-cheapo BernzOmatic home torch that means I’ve got to go out and buy another disposable oxygen tank ($15?) for the next 20 minutes of brazing.
Ick. I guess this means I need to warm up my resume; if I got another contract job, that would probably bring in enough money so I could buy a bigger torch that can take standard large refillable gas/oxygen tanks (and then, if I wanted, I could build a replacement xtracycle frame that doesn’t have toe overlap.)
I’ve been wanting to try integrated brake/shifter levers for a while, so my friend Ed loaned me a pair of Shimano 9-speed ones a couple of weeks back. I finally got around to setting them up today (on an ancient pair of Ava handlebars) just in time to run some longish loops before the spring 400k rolls around.
I wrapped the handlebars in cloth tape, too (Newbaums tape, via Rivendell) over two layers of cut up inner tube. We’ll see how it works on flattop bars (instead of the heavily sloped Gary bars that I’d taped earlier.)
Apr 04, 2011
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Date: Mon, 4 Apr 2011 18:21:28 +0300 (EEST)
From: Nnegi Nmucaberu email@example.com
Subject: I am drenched with tears while writing this short message to you
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I am drenched with tears while writing this short message to you. It was heartbreaking news to me few days ago when my doctor notified me on complications on my health condition which he officially made known to me. He further stressed that the complication I had in my human mechanism as a result of a secondary liver cancer which have destroyed all the organs in my body system. According to him, he said that this complication will lead to my imminent death since no medication can alleviate the high system of deformation I am encountering at this time in my system.
In the view of the above, I am in quest to find a trustworthy and upright individual whom I will entrust the sum of $2.8 million USD and this has led me to you. The said fund was acquired by me as an inheritance from my adopted father who died as a result of political crisis which erupted among his most political associate and business clique.
I will make available to you all information and officially authorize document which will endorse your claim as the beneficiary to the fund in question in the finance house where the fund was lodged by my adopted father. I have mapped out the modalities on how the fund will be apportioned. 35% of the principal amount of the money will be dished out to you while 65% will be allotted to any charitable or orphanage home of your preference.
My motive to dispense the funds to a charity and orphanage home is that I grew up as an orphan and do not have any heirs hitherto.
Upon your acceptance to this proposal kindly get back to me.
And I’ll bet that all I have to do is provide him with my bank account# and routing information, too!
Mavis feels that my hands are better suited to skritching her than typing on the computer.
Apr 02, 2011
A Yellow Menace transfer freight approaches Thurman St.
Apr 01, 2011
I was wandering around on the Boring lava field this afternoon when the mlcm started to make funny hiccupping sounds. I couldn’t exactly place where the sounds were coming from, except that they were coming from underneath me and only happened when I pedaled. As I proceeded along (and generally towards home, but not directly, because it was a nice day and the hiccups weren’t all that urgent-sounding) I walked through all of the things I’d done to the bicycle recently and decided that I’d take a close look at the pedals (which I’d repacked earlier in the week because it had been a year since the last servicing and I was fretful about the state of the grease given what happened to the lubrication on the other chain after the three capes loop) and service them if necessary.
As I got closer to home, the hiccupping became more enthusiastic and more frequent, and by the time I’d gotten to a mile away I was beginning to get a little bit concerned because now whenever I’d try to accelerate smartly away from stops the chain would leap off the chainring, lean over against the chainguard, and skate along the top of the teeth until I poked it over into the valleys between the teeth.
When I finally came in the door, I started walking through the list of things that needed to be checked. This chain had been lubricated with a heavy(ish) machine oil instead of the chain-L, so it had spat out a lot of sticky blackish goop, and the first thing was to wipe down the chain, which happened without incident except for occasional tugs as I drew the chain through the rag I was usingto wipe it. And then I spun the chain through the mechanism to see if there were any stiff links on this used-for-2000+-miles-and-still-not-stretched chain. No stiff links, but it looked like the chain was hopping occasionally as it passed over the chainring.
So I looked carefully at it as it went through, found a hopping link, and took a closer look:
Oh. I guess that’s time to pull last week’s chain out of the drip area and put it back into service (just in time for tomorrow’s R200 in the rain) and put this one aside as an emergency chain.
I’m just glad it didn’t start misbehaving 100 miles away from Portland.
Dust Mite sits blurrily by an adjustable wrench I found on Borges Road this afternoon.
This is not some NFD up on the flanks of Mount Hood, but is instead a road that winds up into the Boring lava field at the southern edge of Gresham.