This Space for Rent

Oct 31, 2011

Not much changes over the course of a year, unless you have to make a detour

Just as we did last year, Ed, Theo, and I volunteered to organize the yearly running of the Verboort Flat Tire Extravaganza!, so, just as we did last year, we needed to preride it to find good control questions and ensure there were no unhappy surprises along the way.

As it turned out, there were no new unhappy surprises along the way. Some of the old surprises are still there (there are a pair of open valve/inspection vaults on Wren Road that have been opened every time I’ve ridden through there over the past three years; I guess those aren’t really surprises anymore as much as they are county-mandated bicycle deathtraps) but we did have to do some route checking because one of the roads the VFTE! normally uses – Meek Road, which was spectacularly unkind to my rear tire the first time I tried to ride the loop – is going to be closed next week for some sort of road/sewer/something work.

We’d batted around a couple of route variations to get past the Meek Road closure. All of them avoided Evergreen Road as much as possible, by continuing up 235th/Huffman road past Longbottoms, then going north across highway 26 on Brookwood/Helvetia, and then either

  1. continuing north on Helvetia, then returning to West Union on Jackson Quarry, and proceeding on to the traditional turnback at the north end of Jackson School,
  2. continuing north on Helvetia, then going north on Jackson Quarry and cutting back south on Mason Hill until it joins Jackson School Road about halfway between West Union and the eponymous school,
  3. taking West Union west to Jackson School Road, but then at the north end of the road continuing northwards on Dixie Mountain Road until the junction with Northrup Road.

In mail, we’d gone over this a bit and decided that choice (a) wasn’t good because it would require a control in the Helvetia area so you didn’t just shortcut 3 miles out by going down West Union, and to add insult to injury it’s a fairly honking climb up to the top of the ridge behind Helvetia, and choice (b) wasn’t good because of that same honking climb, even though the Jackson Quarry -> Mason -> Jackson School routing was the most direct route to Jackson School Road if you were already up into Helvetia. (I was still inclined to ride Helvetia->Jackson Quarry->Mason Hill, but Theo and Ed thought it was a hill too far and so we scrubbed it) So it was going to be choice (c), except that as we rolled down West Union I was far in the rear (I have not been riding many long loops this fall, so this is my punishment) and wasn’t able to call out “you’re making a wrong turn!” when they turned off West Union onto Jackson Quarry instead of Jackson School.

Jackson Quarry Road climbs up a pretty good distance, but not as far and certainly not as steeply as Helvetia does (and it does it much more prettily than the more heavily trafficked West Union doesn’t) and almost before we knew it we’d reached the summit before dropping down to the (unmarked) entrance to Jackson Quarry, and then back up a shorter, but only slightly steeper, ramp to the junction with Mason Hill Road (where Ed was greatly confused because he didn’t realize that he’d taken a wrong turn; fortunately I’d ridden this once before, so had it memorized – and since the last time I’d come through Washington County had replaced the road sign at the junction so now people will know where they are!) and the very steep descent down to the junction with Jackson School Road.

Looking across the valley along Northrup Road

(We did ride up Dixie Mountain Road to the junction with Northrup, and picked up some info controls for that possible turnaround, but it added 4 miles to the loop and we decided that even though it was pretty, the climb up Jackson Quarry Road was just as nice and it didn’t add a bunch of miles to the route. If you want to detour up there, it’s quite nice and pretty much level, so those bonus miles would be (just about) free.)

And on the other side of the Jackson School/Shadybrook intersection it’s all pretty much the way it was last year, up to and including the lack of water at the park in North Plains (so if you’re running short on water, it might be a good plan to stop at a store in North Plains to buy some. It is about 10 miles, all uphill, to Snooseville, and I don’t know how the farmers along Dairy Creek Road would feel about you knocking at their doors asking for a cupful of water.)

We did resist the temptation of adding some gravel road sections into the loop, even though there are some roads that we could tweak the route onto without too much pain. But we did ride those roads on the way out to Forest Grove (we came in from North Portland via Germantown Road, which would have been nice and fast except that it dumped down rain starting about halfway up the climb to Skyline, and not stopping until we rode into mountaindale, and that when we finally reached the Grand Lodge the dining room was woefully understaffed and it took us over 90 minutes to get a little something before heading out again) and then on the way back to Hillsboro (where, after ~100 miles, the three of us decided it was time for a 15 mile ferry move. I probably should have ridden home from there, because it takes about as much time to ride from Hillsboro to home as it does to take a trolley.)

The gory details, in list form

  • 63 miles of populaire + 5 bonus miles up to Dixie Mountain + Northrup
  • in 5h27 minutes
  • 122 miles from home to home for me
  • in 13h50 minutes real time (10h25 brevet time, because I’m not going to count the long breakfast at the Grand Lodge or the time I was sitting on a trolley going east, and 9h08 moving time)
  • at an average speed of 11.8mph (13.4mph moving average; We stopped a lot to discuss control questions and routing, as well as to discuss possible road hazards and other misfeatures that might strike a populaire)
  • it was raining too much for lots of photos, but I did take a few when it wasn’t dumping down rain.

And about the only thing that didn’t work is that as my big rando bag ages the elastic latch strap on the front pocket is pulling the lid forward enough so that the (too short) lid flap doesn’t completely cover the top, so that when I’m riding uphill in heavy rain (like I was when I was climbing up Germantown – heavy rain and heavy fog equals getting soaked from head to toe) water starts to intrude through the back corners of the bag. I need to rip the elastic strap and button off the front of the big rando bag and use webbing and a sidelock latch instead.

That'sssss a very nice pumpkin you have there… It’d be a ssssshame if sssssomething were to happen to it…

Creeper pumpkin

Silas’s halloween pumpkin.

Oct 28, 2011

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Dust Mite & the rack

Dust Mite examines the Delta rack I put on Russell’s bike this week.

Annoying bicycle maintenance episode of the day

I wanted to clean the mlcm and see if I could fit 45mm fenders under the fork (executive summary: no. Nonexecutive summary: yes, but the fork blades pinch wide fenders a little bit, which makes the front extension flare up unattractively. See the executive summary for what that means), and so I flipped it upside down so I could clean the grub off from the upper inside reaches of the blades. Once I finished that (about a 30 minute job if you include the fender fitting) I turned the thing rightside up, at which point the stupid blingy Chris King headset announced that it wanted some attention by the simple expedient of simply locking up and refusing to let the fork turn.

Oh, that’s a feature. So, after half an hour of making certain that nothing else had jammed the headset when I had the bicycle belly up to the bar, I ended up pulling the front end apart, then prying open the upper headset race, flushing it with wd-40, flushing it again, then (after drying it) packing the thing full of teflon-loaded grease (allegedly waterproof; it’s a bicycle specific product for bottom brackets, headsets, and other components that tend to have an intimate relationship with h2o, but the bicycle world is full of products that tend to overpromote themselves) putting everything back together and fussing all of the front end components back into place until the front end didn’t either (a) wobble back and forth when I applied the front brake and did the lean test or (b) refuse to turn from side to side.

Now, it had been about 2 years (1 year 10 months) since I put the headset in, and since it was an ebay special I can’t be certain that the seller was telling the truth when they claimed they’d repacked the bearings before selling, but that’s neither here nor there; No, the annoying thing is that this morning the front end of the bicycle was cheerfully going *flop* if I leaned it over too hard, but after 30-odd minutes of upside down it was suddenly just not working :-(

It does tell me that if I get around to making my own frame, it’s going to have internal routing and quick-releases for the cables and wiring, and I’m going to have the dynamo wiring plugged into a socket on the downtube, not just ziptied all the way back to the rear fender.

But I’m going to have to sew a lot more handlebar bags before I get to that point.


Oct 27, 2011

A cold morning on the river

The RossIsle moves in towards the dock

… but not too cold for the RossIsle to be out shuffling barges around.

Raptor photo of the day

Two bald eagles on a Ross Island snag

Two (blurry) bald eagles sit on a snag and watch the RossIsle chuff around the Ross Island Lagoon.

Oct 25, 2011

This is why I can’t have nice things

DIY blackwall tire

This Vittoria Randonneur tire started out as all white, but then I put it onto my trek and rode it for somewhere between 6000 and 8000 miles. By the time it passed 3000 miles, the sidewalls were almost impenetrably black from caked on aluminum dust (from the braking surfaces of the Salsa Delgado Cross rims, which are now nicely concave in a sort of “you want to replace me soon!” way) and that condition only got worse and worse until the tread finally wore through to the anti-puncture strip, which was my cue for ripping the tire off and replacing it with a Pacela that was sitting around on a spare (dynamo) wheel.

The people who buy these white tires (and tan, and brick-red, and cream sidewalled) must either not ride very much or are much more anal about bike cleaning than I am.

1 comment

Oct 24, 2011

Trolley picture of the day

trolley panorama

Orange-Red lays over at the head of Moody Street this afternoon.

Oct 23, 2011

bicycle photo of the day

The Trek in profile

The Trek in profile after going shopping for pumpkins and school lunch food for this week.

Yes, there’s massive toe overlap on this frame :-( If I ever get enough money (but not too much; if I got a bunch of money, I’d just buy a torch and braze up a one-piece longtail,) I’m going to shop around for some 160 or 165mm cranks (I’d love to get a 130/74 bcd crankset, but there aren’t many of them and they’re hideously expensive) and replace the urban double (42,40) I’ve got on the thing with a alpine double (42,34) or traditional compact double (50,34).

The horrible image quality is courtesy of the economy optics on my cellphone camera.

Oct 21, 2011

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Still life with Mite, twine, tubes, & tires

Dust Mite inspects my (still in the packages) birthday Parigi-Roubaix tires.

Oct 17, 2011

Out on the line

My plans for last weekend, because it was a no-school-on-friday-so-the-bears-went-to-my-parents-on-thursday week, was to go out for a run up to Ripplebrook Ranger Station to recheck the route for the Portland-Ripplebrook 200 I’m trying to build up (it’s only about 195km outandback from Kettlemans bagels on 12th; I may have to put the starting point at the Kettlemans on Broadway to scrape up that last 5 km) but I woke up on Friday morning with a blinding headache and scrubbed the ride for that day. So instead I got in touch with Ed and arranged to give him the born-again rando bag, and when we were parked at the Ugly Mug I mentioned my thwarted plans and said I’d probably try to do it instead on Saturday.

Ed had a better idea; he and Theo (and a couple of other people) were planning on riding out to the coast for the weekend, and he mentioned that going from Portland to Birkenfeld and back would be around 200km, so if I went out with them in the morning, then turned back there it would be a somewhat more social way to have a long day out.

I’d done a largish chunk of that loop a couple of months ago, and, of course, it’s on the west side of Portland so it’s the stomping ground of many Orrando rides, so it’s not as if there would be any surprises waiting for me, so I (after waking up at 1am – too early! – and 3am – still too early! – and then finally 5am) dragged myself into action and wandered up to North Portland to meet up with Ed, Theo, David (not the narrator), and Ryan for an allegedly 7am departure for points northwest.

7am came and went without notice, but we still managed to get our acts in gear and head out around 7:30. It wasn’t raining, thank goodness, but it was still damp and cold, and it took until we reached the St Johns Bridge before I started to warm up. We were moving along at a fairly smart pace, and made it down onto highway 30 and up past the bridge to Sauvie island without incident, but then Ed stopped to hurl a large chunk of retread off the road, and then to deal with the call of nature, so after slowing down briefly I accelerated ahead and caught up to everyone else approximately at Burlington, where Theo and David had stopped to wait for everyone else to catch up.

So we stopped and waited. And waited. Ed was not appearing, so we gossipped about bikey stuff, I took pictures of bicycle luggage, and we otherwise wasted time (and body heat) until Theo first got a text message from Ed that he had stopped (again) to fix a flat tire, and then, after a long period of time, another message that Ed’s tire was dead and he was looping back home to get a replacement one, and would meet everyone (but me) out at the coast in the evening.

So there were only 4 (3 if you’re counting going to the coast) left, and we headed off into the gloom. It wasn’t completely gloomy, though; when we left Burlington,there was a thin strip of blue sky visible over the Nehalem divide, and when we turned off highway 30 and started winding our way up along the Scappoose-Vernonia highway, it started teasing with us by giving us little fragments of sunshine as we climbed up the ramp.

A thick band of fog greeted us at the top, so we descended (at high speed; the traditional compact double crankset I’ve got on the mlcm these days is very good at helping me keep up with Theo on this sort of descent) through a cold damp murk that didn’t start clearing until we’d almost reached the junction with highway 47.

And from that point on it started clearing with great enthusiasm; it was still cloudy when we reached Birkenfeld, but the sunny stretches were getting longer and longer, and by the time we left the Birkenfeld Store and I turned back, it had switched from cloudy with some sun to sunny with some clouds.

Which was good, because sometime during the last 15 miles into Birkenfeld my left side pedal started making *click* *click* noises at the top of every pedal stroke. Was the crankarm loose? No, it didn’t look that way. Were the bearings in the pedal failing? Not in such a way that I could notice when I rotated the pedal by hand. Oh, well, at least the weather was improving and it didn’t *click* quite so aggressively if I softpedaled on that side.

When going south through Vernonia, I usually stop at the Black Bear Coffee Company for a little something, but today I was feeling fretful about the amount of daylight left in the day, so just rolled right through town and onto the Banks-Vernonia linear park without stopping. And then up I went to Tophill, not too fast but not too slow, and, just like I did the last time around, I just stopped pedalling and coasted all the way down the hill to Pongratz Road, where I was once again stopped in the graded field that used to contain the railroad embankment.

And then I *click* *click*ed my way on towards home, stopping briefly at the Banks end of the trail to refill water bottles, and then briefly on Helvetia Road to give the best a progress report before climbing up to Skyline Road.

It’s certainly becoming winter now; I rode past Skyline School at ~5:45pm, stopped about a mile further down to add on some additional layers, and then realized at ~6:40pm that it was absolutely pitch black in the woods around the road and I’d have to get off the hill via Germantown Road instead of my preferred route down Saltzman Road.

When I reached Germantown Road, there was still a teeny bit of light in the sky, but once I started dropping down the hill I fell into shadow and it was really close to pitch black as I plunged down the twisty trafficy road. I was quite happy to reach the bottom of the ramp at Bridge Road, because that meant I’d be riding along highway 30/St Helens until I got close enough to the center of Portland for the lights of the city to show me the way.

I got home somewhere in the ballpark of 8pm, 143 miles and ~14 hours after I left home to ride up to NE Portland (I don’t count the time I spent at Theo’s as part of the ride, but even if I did it’s still faster than brevet minimums.)

And it struck me that this would make a lovely permanent that pretty much doesn’t need anything in the way of controls. If I put one in Scappoose (to force the outbound route up highway 30) and one in Vernonia (10 miles out of the way if you want to return via highway 30 instead of the much less trafficked rail trail) along with endpoints in Sellwood and Birkenfeld there really don’t need to be any info controls that need to be periodically refreshed. So I cranked out a route and have submitted it to RUSA, so hopefully the next time I do it I can do it for their records.

Oh, and the *click*ing crank? I took the pedal off and repacked the bearings, because they were running almost grease-free, but that’s not what was the problem. No, the problem is that the threads on the crank were disintegrating and the pedal was being held in by one remaining thread (which popped out when I screwed the pedal back in to see what would happen if I did.) Well, shoot. I do have a spare NDS crank, even though it’s got a wider tread than the super-narrow noname Sugino crankset I’ve got :-( and I suppose I can alway go up to the Community Cycling Center to scrounge through their partsbins to see if they have any close matches to the offending crank. Until then, I’m just going to have to live with a NDS crank that’s 10mm further out than the drive side crank.

Oct 15, 2011

Rando junk

Putty & table knives

A matched pair of knives that I found lying along the road on the way to and back from Birkenfeld today.

Oct 14, 2011

bicycle photo of the day

Mounted on the MLCM

The MLCM with the born-again rando bag

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Dust Mite headscarf

Dust Mite uses a hankerchef as a head(body?)scarf.

Oct 13, 2011


Back three-quarters view

The latest big rando bag is a repair job on the first big rando bag I made for someone else; that one had a few misfeatures (didn’t hem the pockets, so they ripped out, and I stitched the carcass together with the webbing, which ended up ripping apart under load) so I eventually pried the bag out of Ed’s hands, ripped almost all of the seams out (leaving only the front pocket(s) sewn,) then sewed it back together in a more durable way.

Some of the enhancements I made this time around were

  • I ripped out the plastic liner and used sew-in interfacing for structure,
  • it’s now fully lined (yellow rip-stop nylon) with a removable lining,
  • a plastic mapcase on top, with
  • two d-rings to clip external mapcases to, and
  • velcro along the sides so the velcroed map envelope I sewed for the first iteration of the bag will still work (as seen stuck to the velcro in the picture here.)
  • there’s a tombstone loop on the back rear,
  • four velcro hold-down straps spaced correctly for Nitto/VO front racks,
  • and the stretch cord and button closures have been replaced with webbing and sidelock latches.

It’s a little bit smaller than it used to be, because I squoze the dimensions to leave ½ inch of fabric on the outside of the box seams (taped over, but this time I sewed the tape in as a separate step!)

There are a few pictures of the finished product, too. Cross fingers that it will not need service until it’s gotten so old that the fabric is disintegrating!

Oct 12, 2011

Domestic vermin picture of the day

Mavis sits on a ledge

Mavis perches on the ledge between the living room and dining room.

CBC picture of the day

Xtracycle & pumpkins

The cellphone struggles to take a photo of the trek sitting all by itself at the Big Big Big Store.

Oct 07, 2011

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Dust Mite & Angry Bird

Dust Mite hangs out at the railroad yard with a new friend.

Oct 06, 2011

When caterpillers attack

A head-on view of a charging fuzzy-wuzzy caterpiller

It must be a suicide attack, because the caterpiller was crawling across the Llewellyn playground (filled with children running and riding their bicycles around in circles) right after school let out. I thwarted its plans by picking it up and depositing it into a planter in the school garden, where it was last seen doing the fuzzy caterpiller version of WTF? WTF-F? as it tried to figure out why the world had changed from flat cold tarmac into green leafy wilderness.

Oct 02, 2011

‘tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church-door; but 'tis enough, 'twill serve

Guess where I found this nail?

I ran over this nail this afternoon, and before I figured out what was making the annoying *tick* *tick* *tick* noise it had run through the tire, one side of the tube, and then the other side of the rapidly deflating tube. Thank goodness I always carry a spare tube, because I completely missed the second hole in the tube when I tried to patch it out on the line.

1 comment

Trolley picture of the day

Long-abandoned Portland-gauge trackage in east Portland

Surviving Portland-gauge (42") track from the Mount Tabor line, at the east end of Lone Fir cemetery.


Obéir c'est trahir, Désobéir c'est servir


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