This Space for Rent

Nov 30, 2011

Domestic vermin picture of the day

Mavis perches on the platerail

The watch-cat.

Nov 29, 2011

Railroad picture of the day

A P&W train approaches the Springwater Trail overpass

A Portland & Western train switches onto the (ex)SP mainline and heads north towards Brooklyn Yard.

Nov 27, 2011

Ridiculous bicycle photo of the day

A picture of a picture of the MLCM

A picture of a picture of the mlcm

Nov 26, 2011

(it’s) Friday (somewhere in the universe) Dust Mite Blogging™

Piñata, Spenser, and Dust Mite gaze down from their lofty perch

The whole business of the th*nksg*v*ng holiday made such a mess out of my schedule that I completely forgot to do Dust Mite Blogging on the traditional day.

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Stratovolcano picture of the day

Mount Hood from the Rose Garden

Mount Hood with a pair of lenticular clouds stacked on top of it.

Nov 22, 2011

Railroad picture of the day

OPR 1202 sails over Johnson Creek

OPR 1202 backs over the Johnson Creek bridge as it returns from delivering a cut of refrigerator cars to the OLCC siding.

Nov 21, 2011

Two unhappy discoveries regarding Parigi-Roubaix tires

  1. They don’t have antipuncture strips, which is not surprising, and they’re nice and wide. So today, after maybe 25 miles of riding on them, I ran over something sharp which ran through the front tire, punched a hole in the tube, then appears to have fallen out, which led to the second discovery of the day…
  2. Which is that, sadly, they ride terribly when they’re at low pressure. The flat I had today (at ~5:30pm, in the dark & rain, on the Springwater Trail) happened far enough away from home that I just swapped tubes with a new one, which I then pumped up to 25-30 pounds before riding home. That was a very long 2.5 miles, because I felt every bump and irregularity on the road more than I did when the tire was pumped up to 100psi.


Nov 20, 2011

Fat tire week

Fat tire MLCM

The main reason I switched the MLCM to Velo Orange fenders was so that I could finally use the birthday tires I got in August, and today (after discovering a slow leak in the rear tire – I was halfway to the Big Big Store when I realized that the rim was starting to bounce off the road after bumps. The tire was down to about 15psi – whoops!) I pulled the Nashbar Duros off and put the birthday tires on.

The claimed 26mm for the Duros turns out to be ~25mm (a little bit less, perhaps), but the claimed 27mm of the Parigi-Roubaix tires is actually ~30mm, so the tires are noticably huger than the old ones. They’re so huge that they rubbed against the interior nuts for the front fender staybolts, so I had to pull the fender out just a little bit to make it not rub there, and that takes the front fender noticably out of line :-( (I am going to have to fabricate a custom daruma that fits around a recessed bolt and that lets me run the fender bolt up into the steertube instead of down into the fender cavity; this will let me pull the fender up about 5mm and make the line look less unpretty.)

I took the thing out for a short loop this afternoon to see how the new tires would work, and discovered a couple of things:

  1. The Parigi-Roubaix tires, when inflated into the 95-125psi range that Challenge recommends, ride very harshly. They seem nice and fast, but they aren’t as plush as my el-cheapo Nashbar tires. Perhaps this is an artifact of me running the nashbar tires at 40-60psi most of the time?
  2. Aluminum fenders are really noisy when the wheels suck debris up into the fender well. I spent much of a hour going “oh no, the bolts are coming loose. No, it’s just a leaf. Oh no, the bolts are coming loose! Oh, another leaf. What’s that funny noise? Oh, yeah, gravel.” I’m sure I’ll get used to it sooner or later, and if I don’t, well, there’s always buying a yard or so of carbon fiber fabric and making my own fenders.
  3. The Honjo-style of attaching fender stays to the fender sucks dead bunnies through a straw. Why would anyone think that having nuts hanging out inside the fender well would be a good idea? It’s better than the SKS/Planet Bike internal stay crown (aka the magic foot-wetting mechanism,) but it’s still pretty terrible. I might be able to retrofit the fender to use more of a Berthoud style attachment if I can source some tiny stainless steel p-clamps; put the p-clamps onto the fender stay crown, then bolt them (with button-headed bolts from the inside of the fender) to the fender.
  4. I need to deflate 30mm tires before I can pull the wheels off the bike.
  5. I need to rerake the front rack a bit; it’s tipped up a little bit to keep my front bag from wiggling forward, but that reduces the already-ridiculously tiny clearance at the back of the bag to the point where I almost have to take the thing off before I can latch it closed (see also: I need to braze my own decaleur.)

The MLCM is starting to look scarily like a traditional rando bike; about the only thing that saves it from that fate now is the saddle to bar drop, the violently red porteur-randonneur bag, and the hodge-podge of parts I’ve put onto the thing.

Nov 18, 2011

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Dust Mite reminds me of my important friday duties.

Nov 17, 2011

New fender day

Great A, little a, this is new aluminum fender day!

Out with the 35mm SKS fenders, in with a pair of 45mm Velo Orange aluminum fenders (claimed to be “hammered”, but they’re actually embossed with a polygon design that looks, at first glance and from a distance, like hammered fenders. Up close it’s not so convincing) that only took about 3 hours to make fit right (The MLCM is designed for 28mm + fenders, but that doesn’t mean 45mm fenders – I had to pinch the front fender to fit between the fork legs, and I had to fabricate a bracket to attach the front of the rear fender to the chainstay bridge, because the fender was much too wide to fit between the chainstays.

Shockingly, the fender line isn’t mindbogglingly terrible, though I do need to remove the front fender and cut down the L-bracket I used to attach it to the crown fork; right now the top of the L bracket rubs against the lower headset cup, which is not exactly optimal.


Nov 16, 2011


One of these toeclips is not like the other.  Drat.

I always use my right foot for balance when I stop, so the right toeclip is the one that always runs the risk of getting scraped along the pavement when I start. It had gotten quite bent over the last week or so, so I tried to gently bend it back into shape only to discover that a stress fracture had gone almost all the way through the metal around the rivet when I did that.

At least I’ve got a pair of el-cheapo black plastic toeclips to swap in (for that elegant matchy-matchy look.)


Nov 12, 2011

Compare and contrast

Compare and contrast

My porteur-randonneur bag head-to-head with a more conventionally sized (and colo(u)red) Berthoud randonneur bag. I don’t think I could quite fit two Berthoud bags into the porteur-randonneur bag, but they’d only be a little bit too large to fit.

Nov 11, 2011

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Radiator Mite

Dust Mite hopes that we’ll use the spot heaters instead of the boiler heat.

Nov 10, 2011

The joy of the .us domain, part N

My weblog lives on a few different domain names ( and and has been sitting there for several years without basically any maintenance except for when one of my nameservers has the network re-IPed out from under it.

But today a fun thing happened. A friend sent me a piece of mail saying that my web server had been hacked and was returning bogus web pages (some sort of search engine portal, not the tsfr that nobody knows and loves) and after a round of checking for breakins on my nameservers, I finally found that if I did some of the net-based dns lookups I’d get bogus results (an A record instead of the expected CNAME) most of the time.

So a more exhaustive search was undertaken, and after a considerable period of time I discovered that of the three nameservers for the domain, one of them – the New! Improved! one – was returning the address of a search engine portal for every .us query it was given (for other domains it was just not returning anything.)

Now that’s a feature. And it’s better than that; every single subdomain under the tree resolves to this search engine farm. Now that’s a quality hack, only slightly diminished by the teeny detail that basically nobody uses the old kludgy Postel-style geographic dns anymore.

There’s certainly nothing I can do about this, but I’ve let the domain administrator for know that his newest nameserver is terminally broken and that it might be a good idea to stop using it (not that it ever worked; the old nameserver that used to use had been broken for years – possibly even a decade – and it didn’t ever make the domain less usable.)

I wonder how long it will take to fix this?

Nov 09, 2011

Railroad picture of the day

OPR 1202 pushes a refrigerator car into a siding in the Milwaukie industrial park

When Russell and I were riding down to Sellwood Middle School, we heard the honking of 1202s horn and saw it sail over the 17th Ave crossing pulling a single refrigerator car. So, after depositing Russell at school, I scampered down to the industrial park, arriving just as 1202 started to scenically shove that car into the siding that runs between the Goodwill outlet and 17th Ave.

Nov 08, 2011

10 hours of work and much less swearing than usual

porteur-randonneur bag (front view)

… and now I’ve got to take apart my big rando bag and repair the pockets, put in a longer front flap (with a sidelock latch instead of an elastic cord), and make the back flap a little longer so that it won’t ride up so much.

The porteur-randonneur bag is violently red; I wonder if I’ll get used to it eventually?

Nov 06, 2011

It’s raining, so it must be time for another Orrando ride

Massed randonneurs wait for me to give the preride announcements

The Verboort Flat Tire Extravaganza! (officially the Verboort Sausage Populaire, but I have a long memory for rides that founder on the rocks of many many flats!) was today, so I found myself sitting in the Grand Lodge parking lot at 8am helping sign people in for the loop. When I’d awakened this morning, it was raining and I thought that this would cut down the ridership substantially, but this was apparently the day when all of the bicyclists in the Portland area were going to be out no matter what, and randonneurs were no exception; 44 people had preregistered and most of them showed up, along with enough other people to fill the Grand Lodge parking lot with 59 riders waiting for the 9am starting bell(ow). (so many people showed up that we ran out of pencils for the info questions, we ran out of baggies to keep the cuesheets from getting wet, and we were down to the very last brevet card. We still had a dozen or so cuesheets, but that’s only because many of the riders printed them out themselves from the copies of the VFTE! Orrando page.)

What we (Ed, Theo, and I) had planned for the ride was to have Ed out in Snooseville, Theo at Hillsboro (Longbottoms Coffee, which we had prearranged to have a place for people to sit and chat if they so desired) and then to ride sweep around the rest of the loop, and me at the start and the end. But on Friday Theo decided that he’d rather ride over to Verboort to check people in and leave the riding to me. So, just as we did last year, I rode out after the swarm had departed and made my leisurely way around the loop.

Leisy Road

It wasn’t exactly raining at 9am when everyone left, but it was pretty aggressively coldly misting. And this kept up, in fits and starts, for most of the morning, but finally relented and went away about the time I departed Snooseville for the run down Dairy Creek Road.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I wasn’t “riding” – I’d done the workers ride last sunday and already had a brevet card filled out and signed by the organizer (me. I wonder if that will make RUSA blow a gasket?) – but I was following along so that if someone had a disaster (either mechanical or existential) I could offer assistance, fud, or just urge them along. Normally not much (if any) assistance is needed (randonneuring self-selects for bull-headed stubborness and most riders will push themselves along until their arms start falling off, and then reluctantly start thinking about DNFing the whole shebang) but populaires attract new riders who haven’t been brainwashed yet into thinking this is the proper way to do things. But it’s a useful thing to do, and, hey!, it’s another 100km’s worth of riding which is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick!

So between Forest Grove and Longbottoms, there weren’t any lost souls; I overran Holden H (he’d stopped to patch a flat tire, but had finished just before I rode by) and followed him at increasing distances into the Longbottoms control (he has a nice little Bike Friday which is capable of an amazing turn of speed – he’s pretty speedy by himself, but he rides the Bike Friday faster than I can keep up) and reached the control at about 10:20(?) after about half the riders had already come and gone (the other half were still in the process of wrapping up and getting ready to go; a couple of people had flats and were in the throes of repairing them.)

So I stopped for a while and chatted with Theo until the last rider had left (and then waited a little bit longer so that I wouldn’t be breathing down his neck for the next 20 miles) then headed on into the rain again. I proceeded north, then west, then north onto Jackson Quarry Road, west (and down) on Mason Hill, then north again on Jackson School Road, where I overran (just past the info control at Jackson School) three riders – Tom(?) and his father Ed (who was on his first rando-length ride, and starting to fade) and Rodney L, who was moving along at a slow but relentless pace and would drop us soon after leaving this control. And then I followed along with Tom & Ed, trying to accurately but reassuringly describe the topology going up to Snooseville, but, alas, not reassuringly enough to keep us from gradually moving slower and slower as Ed’s legs became progressively more dissatisfied with this whole idea of riding up into the mountains in the rain. Alas, my attempts at encouraging were unsuccessful, and Tom & Ed had decided to abandon by the time we crept – 30 minutes past the closing time for the control – into metropolitan Snooseville where we caught Ed G & Susan F in the midst of packing up to go.

Ed loads up his cargobike

(Ed G had ridden his Cetma out from Portland this morning – starting at 5am to climb over Tualatin Mountain via Germantown Road – and was planning on riding directly back home as soon as the control was closed. That’s 80 miles, including two 1000 foot climbs up Tualatin Mountain. Ed wins the hardman award for the decade.)

I had a problem here; organizer-Ed & I gave Tom & not-organizer-Ed directions for the fastest route back to Forest Grove (Dairy Creek->Mountaindale->47) but I had to get out of dodge quickly if I was going to catch up to closing time and be able to provide productive assistance to anyone who had trouble. So I bolted out of Snooseville after Ed (his Cetma might be slow uphill, but it descends like an icbm) and then headed west as fast as my legs could go.

By the time I’d reached Banks, I’d caught up to closing time, and by the time I’d finished the outandback in Cedar Canyon I was up about 20 minutes from closing time. And then, up on the alphabet soup of roads that eventually becomes Kansas City Road I overhauled Elly Blue and April W(?), who looked like they were heading for a DNF because April’s rear wheel had a slow leak and they had to stop every mile to pump it up. I volunteered one of the spare tubes I was carrying, and (after an attempt to keep going only to realize that the leak had progressed to the point where it was needing to be pumped up every half mile) that tube (and a couple of pieces of the duct tape I carry for emergency booting, and then my pump because her tubes and pump were Schrader-valved, and my tube is Presta-valved) was pressed into service to replace the old punctured by a huge piece of glass tire on her bike.

And by the time we’d finished this repair, we were right on the closing time for Verboort (I thought we were going to miss it, because I was thinking it was 6h38 instead of 4h48) and needed to hustle to have even the slightest chance to make it there before the gate went down. So we whipped down to the junction with Kemper Road (“right before the abandoned school or church or whatever” was my helpful cue), then shot eastwards towards Visitation and the drop down into Verboort.

Fortunately it was not (a) raining or (b) quite as cold anymore. The wind was coming from the southeast, which would have been bad except that after we crossed highway 47 it brought the sounds and smells of the Verboort Sausage Fest right to us, which gave us a little extra encouragement to get there quickly.

And Elly and April made it into Verboort at 3:45, with just under three minutes breathing room, as the last of the 56 finishers out of a starting field of 59.

And then I said my goodbyes and scuttled into Hillsboro to catch a trolley home, arriving at home with the last of the sunlight at 6:08pm (awake enough to upload photos and take a shower, but not quite awake enough to write a coherent trip report!)

There’s not so much of a what worked/what didn’t work for the organizer side of things, but it was nice to actually be able to use some of the emergency supplies I drag along when I’m sweeping, and I really need to finish the camera-searingly red porteur-randonneur bag so I can repair and upgrade the big rando bag before the spring series rolls around.

Oh, and I probably need some new brake shoes on the mlcm because the old ones are starting to get worn down to the point where their braking qualities are starting to deteriorate. But aside from that, the play was excellent.

PS: In the “stupid rando tricks” department, I’ve now got a traditional compact double on the mlcm, and I’ve been taking a lot of advantage of the alpine ring on brevets recently. But not today – I did the entire loop in the big ring, only dropping down as far as the 55" (50×24) gear once (for the creep up Stafford Road.) I’m not sure if this is a feat to be applauded or treated as evidence of insanity…

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Nov 04, 2011

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Dust Mite & sensor-exploding red rando bag

Dust Mite rests on top of the camera-warpingly metallic red porteur-randonneur bag (custom made for the mlcm – note the asymmetric rear pockets to fit around the brake cable) I spent this afternoon sewing together (It’s still not finished; I need to go down to the Mill End Store and get a sidelock latch for the main compartment, and then after sewing that on I need to add a mapcase and apply tape to the seams. But it’s not bad for 4-5 hours of work, instead of 15-30 hours of work!)


Nov 02, 2011

Precision repairs


The (offically non-servicable) battery on my Garmin 205 had aged to the point where it wouldn’t even last through a leisurely R200, so I popped the case open and replaced it with a new (cell-phone) battery, then glued the thing back together with rubber cement and a few dabs of superglue.

Alas, the rubber cement had dried up a bit in the bottle, so it had even less sticking power than rubber cement normally has on slick plastic, so when I accidentally dropped the gps the case popped open, rendering it useless unless I found a better way of keeping it closed. So I resorted to the traditional bicyclist’s friend and ziptied the stupid thing together until I could go out and get some new rubber cement.

I’ll still ziptie it after the new rubber cement cures, of course (I’m not going to superglue it this time, because the battery will eventually run down and need to be replaced again,) but I’ll probably use a somewhat smaller ziptie instead of one of the few GIANT PURPLE TIES I’ve got.

Nov 01, 2011

Domestic vermin picture of the day

Still life with domestic cats and imported sheephide

Mavis and Buckeley declare a truce so they can both sit on the catshelf in the living room.