Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Bike Thru Burger

I have seen many things in this world, strange, unique and beautiful. But I have never seen a drive through window for a bike. That's right, the local burger chain here in Portland makes sure to accommodate bicycle riders. I'm not sure how much time one really saves with waiting behind a hulking S.U.V. and breathing the exhaust vs. locking up the bike and going inside, but its nice to know you have an option.

Instead of ordering at the speaker in front of the huge outdoor menu, a little sign instructs those on bikes to wheel over to the window and order direct. I like not having to deal with the awful microphone and speaker. I suppose this works well for someone who is into fitness and likes to ride a really nice bike around town and is too paranoid about locking it up--yet also likes shakes, fries and burgers.

After discovering the sweet potato fries are no longer in season (Burgerville prides its self on serving local, seasonal foods) I had to go with the Washington taters . . .and a hazelnut shake. Its tough to ride with a drink safely so fortunately I came up with a solution thanks to the generous straw length and large pockets.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Saddle up REDUX

A few months back I posted a blog on the cool little equine street art here in Portland. I am pleased to report that the plastic toy horses tied to the old horse hitch rings are still going strong.

Just the other day I was riding up my street and came across these beauties. Someone had the foresight to equip the horses with proper winter gear. A little piece of scrap wool and an old leather shoelace did the trick.

It was cool enough for me to stop in my tracks, pull over and take some snapshots. And that is the beauty of the bike trip to the store. Just before I was to start gaining momentum up the hill, my peripheral caught these two mares. It was second nature to hit the brakes and pull on the sidewalk. In a car, you would just fly on by. Bikes are so wonderful in the flexibility of time, pace and options.

The next trip to the goodwill store will most likely have a horse themed mission involved. I do enjoy a fun, cheap project in which to be creative. If anything, its an excuse to ride around in new neighborhoods and look around for a good hitching spot.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Warm and / or Dry

Every once in a while an idea comes along that is so brilliant and useful that everyone stops and pays attention. . .and then there is the Snuggie. Just when you think we have our pop culture pegged, along comes this wild card. Who would ever have imagined that a fleece blanket with sleeves would be a super-seller! The Snuggie has to be the number one joke gift of the year. The mighty Chia pet has finally been de-throned. They have sold 4 million "blankets" in just 3 months! I hope this sales trend means that more Americans are developing a sense of humor about it, as this hilarious video shows.

Now the invention that is way more useful and just as ridiculous-looking is the bike poncho. Sometimes you just have to bike a short distance--like to the corner store or grab a cup of coffee down the street or meet a friend for breakfast. Messing with rain pants is a pain in the arse and sometimes the distance does not warrant it. Yet, if it begins to really start coming down, even with a rain jacket, your thighs get all soaked. Well hellooooo bike poncho. No more wet jeans and cold hands!

So long as you don't have to jump off suddenly to avoid a collision with a logging truck or don't mind catching your poncho on a car's side mirror, its perfect! I have even seen versions that snap off the handlebars if pulled too vigorously. If some genius can re-invent the blanket and make $40 million in 3 months, why not the bike poncho?

My favorite item has to be the steering wheel mounted laptop stand. Amazon sells them and the feedback is astounding. There are 453 customer reviews for this item. The reading is hilarious and re-instills my faith in people's sense of humor. Check out some of comic gems here.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Post Cocktail Dinner

One of the perks of biking after a few rounds of cocktails is having to ride past the food carts on the way home. Sure crab cakes with a chipoltle lemon aioli dipping sauce sound divine, but you need to have direct access to God's credit line to afford them. When your cocktails approach movie ticket prices (worth it I might add) your food budget tends to get spread thin.

Here is where the beauty of the food carts come into play. For less than $8.00 you can eat like a king. The hardest part is making a decision: wood fired pizza (Pyro Pizza), Crepes, Belgium fries (Potato Champion) . . .it goes on and on

Pyro Pizza literally has a wood-fired oven built into the trailer! They even have a huge pile of firewood and an axe to keep the heat going. Thin crust pizza done right, served hot and fresh ingredients. Not too much of anything. That's the key to a good slice.

Potato Champion is aptly named. It specializes in fries and fries only. Multiple dipping sauces for perfectly cut and cooked fries. The French/Canadian specialty is the Mt. Everest of fry dishes, the "Poutine." Take an outstanding French fry, add cheddar cheese curds and add gravy. Probably should invent a TUMMS dipping sauce to go along. Check out the video of an eating contest concerning the aforementioned Poutine with two ladies, a guy and a dog.

Maintenance and Wile E. Coyote

Bike maintenance. On a long enough time line, everyone has to do it. Lube, brake adjustments, derailleur high / low adjustments--its the key to a smooth ride. Usually we just have to add some air to the tires. Every time I pump more air into my bike tires, I mean every time, I can't help but think of one thing: Wile E. Coyote. Perhaps it is the lasting power of Loony Tunes, but I like to think its the kid still in me and bikes just naturally bring out.

Fortunately, no tire has ever exploded in my face, unlike Mr. Coyote, where everything went horribly wrong. The poor guy never did get his meal. These animals are quite the survivors actually and have gotten a bum rap for centuries. Any animal that can totally adapt to a human habitat has my respect (yes, sadly, even cockroaches and certainly foxes in London). I recently ran across a real-life Wile E. Coyote story that was Loony Tunes worthy. And just like the cartoon, after a seemingly huge fall and crash, the little guy was ok.

An amazing short story: l i n k

P.S. He escaped from the wildlife enclosure and is probably roaming free in a much more lush and hospitable place.

Ground Score

Weekend leisure / errand rides have so many wonderful peripheral benefits. The pace is just right and you get to stop and check out new scenes or places. Sure you don't get the same amount of exercise or burn as many calories as the Lycra-clad road riders, but you connect with the area around you. I like the ability to stop and check things out.

One of my favorite things about the lolly gaging pace of an errand / wandering bike day is the potential for the ground score. The free stuff that is dropped or left out for others. Scarfs, hats, toys, bike parts, small kitchen appliances. . .

This weekend I scored a pretty sweet toaster. Now who would give away a perfectly good toaster? Of course there will be something wrong with it. A quick inspection revealed the likely reason for abandonment, mechanical failure. The toast does not stay down, so I made sure there were screws in the bottom, some kind of indication that it could be opened up and "messed" with (it is amazing how much modern stuff lacks this vital access).

Sure enough, after the fancy brushed metal cover was removed on the expensive toaster, it was all plastic. Cheap plastic. Amazing how much they charge for something so simple and could benefit from just a little bit of durable metal here and there. After some tweaking and modifying its ready for action.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Bike Pack Hack

Panniers are something new to me. I used to ride with my shoulder bag and thought nothing of it. My new bike is wonderfully designed to accommodate any set of panniers and I have been taking full advantage. Now it is a rare circumstance when I don't take them with me on a ride. I often chastise myself for only taking one bag, because I suddenly see a great ground score item, or end up riding past the grocery store.

I did encounter one small problem with the panniers though. They kept sliding back towards the rear of the bike because the lock latch on the bottom was only good for one direction (forward). I used a set of cheap, dollar store bungees for a long time. With the rear wood deck, its a good idea to keep a set of bungees handy anyways. I finally came across a more permanent solution.

The clip inserts provided by the Pannier manufacturer were too small and could not fit around the bike's thick rails. Bike shops could not help either, except for one that had something similar for $15 a pop. I was determined to do better and cheaper.

The local hardware store came to the rescue. After drawing out what I needed on some paper, I scoured the small hardware drawers for like-shaped items and came up with a rubber hose clamp, stainless steel bolt and accompanying wing nut. Total cost: $2.80. They work like a charm too. Tight fit, low profile and easily removable.