Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Where Are You Go


Following a wonderful week of complete internet “Blackout” I found myself eager to return to modern times. There is something liberating about not being able to check your email/facebook/web news pages 5 times a day—but the thought of missing all that was familiar proved to be too much. I suppose it is like being away on an extensive travel adventure and loving every moment, but nearing the end you long for home only because you know the return ticket is in your hand and burritos and pizza await you.

Upon my return to the interwebs, I came across an inspirational preview for a different kind of bike race. One that adheres to the Woody Allen-esque quote of “ 90% of life is just showing up.” Much praise and thanks must go out to my good friend Shawn, who brought my attention to the documentary by way of his fantastic web site onehundrethmonkey

The film is in limited release at the moment (l i n k), but hopefully will catch on and gain more popularity. Based on what I have seen from looking at the remarkable still photos and beautiful video—it’s a winner. Any race on a bike down the length of the African continent deserves reverence and admiration.

With so many New Year’s resolutions floating whimsically at the top of most people’s thoughts, imagine seeing on your list, “Complete bike race down the length of Africa” next to “exercise more” or “be healthier.”

Little Red Headless Tricycle

I keep seeing this sad little tricycle around town and wonder what it means? My first reaction was sadness, like empathy for the poor kid who had his tricycle handlebars ripped off.



Is it a metaphor for an artist's childhood, short and incomplete, like someone ripped the innocence right off with the stringers in the handlebars? Hopefully the little RADIO FLYER will one day, ride again.

The second thought seeing this little guy is recalling the "Roller Racers" from my childhood. Damn those were fun. The photo is of the blue seat, but I vividly remember the red "hot" seat with the yellow handlebars.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Soulcraft


There was a time when we had a connection with the people who crafted our goods and tended to our needs. Through the decades, our relationship with craft and care has eroded to a point where most of us have no idea how things are made, fixed, forged or cared for. This disconnect has enabled the wool to be thrown over our eyes. Our collective ignorance and naive expectations have allowed sub-standard products and services to dominate our choices—to the point that we bought the idea that if something is Goliath-like and “too big” that it will never “fail.”

Perhaps we should not review the past decade, but several decades past. Re-direct our scorn and disdain of the modern financial institutions that “failed” us and focus on the few remaining people that truly create and repair things in this country. Things that we rely on to get us to work, haul the groceries and guide us home. We don’t need to wait a few years to cast a ballot for change. The loudest vote is also the one we unwittingly submit multiple times a day: Vote with your dollar! Support local, quality, hand made goods that will last a lifetime and support your community.

video

The best local craftswoman I know is Jude Kirstein. She is young, smart, talented, wickedly funny and driven by a passion for riding and understanding the mechanical nature of bicycles. She followed her passion and interest by completing a course with UBI (United Bicycle Institute) as a certified bicycle technician, then went back for more specialized instruction later. Jude continued carving out her path by starting up her own custom wheel building business, EPIC Wheel Works. When she is not busy teaching at UBI, she is working with clients who want quality, classic, custom wheels that will stand up to anything and are "...guaranteed to rock your world."

video

After talking with Jude and viewing her operation first hand, I was convinced my next set of wheels will be custom. Jude shared a few stories from her work journal, entries that ranged from the original notes she took with the clients on day one up to the final tension measurements with the finished product. One client returned from a 3,000 mile touring trip using her wheels for a tune up and the spoke tension was still dead on. Herein lies the beauty of the custom bike wheel. There is a written history with it, a person who recalls its inception and knows the exact measurements on it.



She displays her UBI certificate on the wall, not so much out of pride but as justification to others--skeptical men who wonder what this young woman really knows about wheels. Even though she teaches at the institute now, she says, "A lot of men still pull tools out of your hands."
Her only window in the workshop doubles as a message board--parts orders, reminders, messages and lists. Resting on her work table are five glass jars of soil she collected from bike trips across the world. Jude may be starting off small, but is making a big impact in this community. Her dedication, hard work and determination is beginning to pay off. People like Jude deserve our respect and support. She is in every sense, a true craftswoman putting her heart and soul into her work.

KNIT HAPPENS

From now on, holiday shopping for me will be done exclusively on a bike. Driving in any major downtown area near Christmas is insanity. It is certainly more challenging to the bike rider too--with drivers increasingly impatient and distracted.There is a dual benefit of having my panniers limit those big ticket items so not only do you save on parking a car downtown, but you have an excuse not to buy the lawn mower (unless they throw in a free CD with it too!). Weaving between and passing long lines of cars who are all stuck because one person wants to wait for a parking space brings a deep sense of satisfaction.

While locking my bike up outside of Powells City of Books in Portland, I stumbled across a little treat. Knittags. This particular one was like a tea cozy for the bike lock bar. I was a bit confused as to how it was attached until I looked underneath to see the secondary stitching. Curious about this little urban art piece I sought more info: http://pdxstump.com/directory/graffiti/knitting/tag. Its a brilliant little project that hopefully gets some more traction. Why not bring some more beauty and creativity into our normally mundane objects. It certainly brought a smile to my face and made me want to lock my bike up there and not on some boring, naked steel frame.
Have a happy and safe holiday everyone! Cheers!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Get out there


Certain images are worth more than a thousand words. In this particular case, its worth a few thousand miles. No matter what you ride, no matter what the weather is like, no matter how tired you are, get out there on your bike and watch the smile get bigger and bigger!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Copenhagen

It comes as no surprise that the world's leaders have gathered en masse in Denmark, accomplished nothing but drive up limmo & private jet traffic by 300%. Truth be told, one thing has impressed me about the climate summit. And it has nothing to do with world "leaders".


Some very smart people at MIT have attempted to re-invent the wheel. They chose the climate summit to debut their invention. It could be the next piece of sliced bread, or the next Segway scooter.

See for yourself:

http://web.mit.edu/press/2009/copenhagen-wheel.html

HARD WORK


Only after the wicked cold came the rain. I regret to inform that I have not been riding much as of late. A few short runs like the foot freezing trip downtown for some shopping and holiday revelry--but for the most part riding life has been static. The the reasons why I have not been riding so much have inspired me for this particular post.



I have been working hard on an old craftsman home here in Portland. My brother in law and I are currently doing the plumbing work. All of it. Digging a trench in a crawl space 2 feet high, cutting into a 4 inch, 90 year-old cast iron sewer pipe, re-routing the plumbing, accommodating new plumbing and retro fitting it to the old stuff, knocking down walls. . .it has been challenging, frustrating, highly educational, rewarding and fun.


Just about the time work really started getting intense on this project, I stumbled across a fantastic TED talk about the negative portrayal of hard work in this country and the "war on work" that the media wages (commercials about a shorter work week, early retirement, getting home a little earlier . . ). If anyone enjoys a project, working with your hands, having moments of discovery and insight in the middle of your project, be it building a bike wheel, gardening or creating something, you need to watch this lecture: ( l i n k )

Friday, December 11, 2009

Ode to Down

It has remained unseasonably (unreasonably) cold here in Portland. The mercury has dipped down to 12 degrees F for the third consecutive morning--a new record. It has not broken 30 degrees in over a week. I had the misfortune to be working outside all day only to find my cup of coffee had frozen solid.


I don't think I would have made it without the help of my trusty down vest. Oh the down vest, how I love you so! This weather has given me a whole new level of appreciation for the fluffy goose feathers. Winter riding also requires seriously warm gloves and a cozy scarf--can't stress those two items enough it seems. Compared to riders in other parts of the country, I feel like a wuss. Fellow blogger Maggie is WAY more dedicated and has to face much more adverse conditions in Colorado: ( l i n k ) Once you are up to speed on the bike, the wind makes your face feel like a bag of frozen peas. The loyal Portland bike commuters have not been fazed by these abnormal conditions. Check out the link to the dedicated masses who are braving the cold conditions: ( l i n k ).


It is strangely encouraging to see many people who are braving these conditions on a daily basis. It is this kind of devotion, endurance and willingness to get out there and ride that inspires others, rain or shine, warm or cold.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Errands

It is remarkably dry here in Portland. This time of year, it should be raining every day--according to the locals. Accompanied by the unusually dry weather is a bitter cold (lows in the teens). This kind of weather warrants some serious warm clothing. Gloves and a scarf are the two key essentials. Once comfortably equipped, all that remains is the decision of where to go. The city offers a bounty of options for scenic rides--especially those along the river. There is something charming about riding through the crisp air with a river on one side.


Personally I don't mind the cold, so long as its dry. One good hill climb on a bike in cold riding conditions becomes the great heat equalizer. Aside from leisure rides, errands are becoming more commonplace too.


The dry weather enabled a rather fun trip to the post office. Fun and post office are not usually synonymous. The appropriately named "Haul" carried my trusty box with ease. Aside from the primary task, the pannier racks proved quite handy for attaching bungee cords that keep stuff really secure ( I highly recommend the rubber bungees sold at the dollar stores). With the box secure I set out. The journey is usually a short one, but something about a box on an elegant bike garnered a lot of attention. "No it's not a custom bike" and, "you can buy it like this right off the showroom floor" were the two standard answers that were dealt out with every encounter. People can't help seeing the cargo strapped to the rear and smile as I ride past or lock it up. The conversations continued in the line at the post office, with all sorts of different people looking at the bike and commenting. The immediate upside of this is that you easily burn time in the long line. Upon reflection, its also a great way to be a bike advocate to those who perhaps don't usually ride.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

LIGHT HACK

It is hard to find the silver lining in things like a massive global recession. One benefit (much to Walmart and China's chagrin) is that many people are no longer buying cheap plastic crap. As a collective whole, we used to fork over the cash without even thinking about it. More and more now I see people inspecting the merchandise, seeing how it is made, asking if it will stand up to the test of time. A $3.00 flashlight may not be such a good deal after all. This new perspective shift can also be applied to items we already own.


After so many years of riding, I have collected a lot of bike parts and paraphernalia. Brake cables, shifters, bottle cages and lights. Lots of lights. Some are better than others and no two seem to be alike when it comes to batteries and mountings. I finally bunched them all together and threw them in a bag. The problem is when a perfectly good light is rendered useless when the cheap plastic clip breaks. If it still works, you can easily customize it and make it even better! There is nothing that can't be improved upon.


My little red blinky needed a second chance. The plastic clip already proved its self cheap and ineffective. So I looked to other materials. All that was required for this task were; eye screws, tiny nuts & bolts, alligator clips and super glue. The inside of the light housing has extra room for the screws to stick into. Just super glue the threads to the plastic to ensure a good solid grip and then bolt on your alligator clips.


The beauty of this design is the light can mount to anywhere! The shoulder strap of your bike bag, the bottom of your collar behind your neck, the bottom of your jacket (near the tailbone), rotate the clips to light up your broadside.

It behooves us all to take a second look at our old, broken or unused possessions and ask if a little D.I.Y. can perhaps remedy the situation. Who knows, you just might have fun doing it!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Hitching My Ride

In America, it is difficult to find evidence of life before the automobile. Our streets are wide and freeways abundant. Yet the bicycle actually "paved the way" for the roads to be built for cars. Early bicycle clubs raised money and demand for paved roads, long before the car was king. Before the roads were paved, the bike was relegated to the cobblestone streets. Imagine riding an early bike with solid metal, wood or even solid rubber tires on such a surface. Early models were nicknamed "bone crushers" for very good reason. It is no wonder it took a while for the bike to be more accessible to the masses. Most people traveled medium distances with the aid of a horse. Here in Portland, if you look close enough you can still see the traces of an equine dominated past.



Scattered across the city right at our feet are contemporary fossils. Steel rings were set into the sidewalk and used as a hitching post for their horses. These sidewalks have been battered around by massive tree roots, home remodels and car tires. Yet they endure and in impressive numbers. Its one of those details that escapes notice in everyday life. Yet, once informed of it, you begin to see them everywhere. It all began about 5 years ago when a local artist began to pay homage to the days of old. He ties up miniature toy horses to the rings and helps bring attention to the connections we seem to have lost with the past ( link ).


Its the little things like this that makes one appreciate people's spark, insight and creativity. Hidden behind a parked car, next to a post office box or parking meter is a little history lesson wrapped in plastic and tethered to a stainless steel cable. Kids seem to gravitate to them and in turn, the parents are left to explain or be perplexed. The link includes some wonderful photos taken by many residents: ( link ).

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Lock art


There are two kinds of places to lock up your bike. Portland's various establishments offer up more cycle accommodation than I have seen anywhere. Bright yellow pylons bracket the generous area. These spaces are at a premium during peak hours though. After they fill up, one needs to find the improvised places. It is pretty cool the things we will lock our bikes to in this urban world. Gas meters seem to offer a veritable bouquet of pipes and closed angles to secure your ride. Cable locks are handy for trees and even some newspaper stands. Street signs always work the trick provided they are tall or do not predict some terrible omen to the rest of your riding day.




It comes as no surprise that art has begun to mix with bicycle advocacy. Some style has been added to the traditional "U" shaped piece of steel sticking out of the sidewalk. The shapes just in my neighborhood include: eyeglasses, toothbrushes, and stethoscopes. The functionality of such street art / bike security remains to be seen. Sometimes the height is all wrong, or other times the thickness of the metal is a bit difficult for the U-lock. But in general, it is a good trend and certainly more interesting. David Byrne of the Talking Heads is a huge advocate for cycling and opening up people's imaginations. He has spearheaded awareness with his art pieces all over New York City( link ).


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pause

Biking has now replaced walking. I used to 'hoof it' those 3 1/2 blocks to pick up my pizza order but now I ride. Having a bike fully set up for the street is wonderful and oh so much fun. Inclement weather be damned! Fenders and water proof panniers enable you to do business as usual. I call it efficient rather than lazy. Its hardly a work out to pedal a few blocks, but you cover so much ground. The hassle of dealing with a cumbersome "U" lock and long cable is easily worth it, especially when compared to driving and seeking out parking places. I am pretty amazed than even with the "rainy season" upon us in Portland, you still have to search pretty damn hard to find a vacant spot to lock your bike.



Yet just like most activities, cycling is not without its risk. The other day while returning from a spin around the neighborhood, I encountered a nasty hail storm a few blocks from my home. How I envied those who ride with the baseball helmets. . .visibility zero. No place to take shelter. I foolishly pedaled on while looking down and nearly met my end with an oncoming van. This encounter gave me renewed pause and awareness of how quickly things can change.

For as many people that do cycle in this city, there are a surprisingly low amount of fatal accidents. Most riders I know have a crash story--and it usually involves a lapse of attention or being in a hurry. Usually a few scrapes and bruises teach valuable lessons (or a car's horn in my most recent case). Last year in Portland there were zero bike fatalities. This year, sadly, there have been several. Scattered around town are haunting memorials of the few who were killed. Each incident is different, some wearing helmets some not. Right of way disputes or drunk drivers, the memorials do not dwell on those details. It is always an immobile and ghostly white bike chained up as a sobering reminder. Flowers and personal tributes adorn the bikes.




I have experienced my fare share of scrapes, bruises and close encounters. One old bike helmet was cracked after a front tire blowout while bombing down a steep hill on a busy street. That encounter alone was enough for me to always ride with head protection. Passing memorials like these will hopefully provide solace to those who ride. Please ride safe.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cyclocross


Rain usually tends to put a damper on the adventurous spirit of most "sane" people. Then there are the few here in the Pacific Northwest who actually await the rainy season. These people are the Cyclocross riders and they are a different breed, all together. This fall, hundreds of riders descended upon Portland for the Single Speed Cyclocross World Championships (SSCSWC09). Needless to say it was a very exciting and eye-opening cycling experience.

Cyclocross is much older and more established than I imagined. Its origins hark back to the early 1900's. Road riders in Europe would race each other between towns, cutting across fields and mixing up riding with running. This enabled riders training for the Tour De France to stay in shape and even hone their riding skills during Autumn and Winter.



Fortunately for all the participants, it rained over an inch in the 24 hours before the big race. The entire day hosted various categories of Cyclocross races but the main event was for the single speed crown. The final race was a mixed bag of fun, competition and creativity. Basically, it resembled a combination of mud football, a bike race and a costume party with a "Mad Max" movie theme. There was certainly a gonzo category and pretty much anything with wheels was allowed in. The costumes and bikes were truly unique, fun and entertaining.



The start of the race resembled a Medieval battle, with 250 riders divided in two and lined up facing each other from across the field. In the center were the all of the bikes. The first one to the top of the hill won a custom bike. Mayhem ensued. Lycra and spiked shoulder pads were all over the place. I am pretty sure Bigfoot even came out from the wilderness to participate as well.

video


The aftermath was glorious. Every rider was absolutely covered in mud. 45 minutes of agony followed by 4 hours of beer drinking and revelry. The winners were Drew MacKenzie of Canada and Kari Studley from Seattle. Thanks to Ms. Studley's victory at the race and a tie-breaking mud wrestling contest, next year's championship will take place in Seattle. After viewing this spectacle I have been truly inspired to give this sport a shot.

Thursday, November 12, 2009



Portland thrives in the shadow of Seattle. The larger town to the north seems to garner all the attention with Grunge, Microsoft, Boeing, and Starbucks. Mr. Cobain ushered out that music scene with a bang, Microsoft is downright evil, Boeing is desperately clinging to its industry and Starbucks is really just in the milk-delivery business.

Perched along the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers, Portland originally started out as a shipping location. WWI and WWII soon demanded an insatiable thirst for timber. And so it has held. No other industry really rose up and took its place. As a result,"Stumptown" was left to fend for its self. This "neglect" has in effect enabled the city to flourish as a modern success story in urban planning (with bicycle's and public transportation leading the charge). Portland is a series of classic neighborhoods, bisected by the Willamette river. Blocks and blocks of old, late Victorian and classic craftsman homes roll on through the grid of narrow streets and giant trees. Portland learned long ago to rely on the locals, seek support inward, become self-sufficient and innovate.






One local business that has thrived in this environment is Stumptown Coffee. A cup of coffee is something entirely different in Portland and this local coffee roaster has become somewhat of an institution. Every day, twice a day this company offers free "tastings" at the their Annex. These tastings are akin to what people would experience from a visit to a posh winery. One is soon consumed in aromas and educated in the different brewing stages, flavors and techniques that true coffee aficionados require. They encourage you to sip the coffee as loud as you possibly can. It all seems rather silly until you stop to recognize that coffee is the world's second largest (legal) commodity after oil. . .and you really can smell and taste the subtle, fruity and sometimes earthy differences from one bean's offerings to another.



Another local delight that Portland offers are food carts (link). Scores of them are distributed all over the city that are easily accessible by bicycle. On this beautiful fall day, we decided to do a little "cart crawl" in the downtown area. These carts are run by some fantastic, vibrant and talented cooks that are garnering national attention from food magazines and the NY Times (link). The result is some of the best street food at affordable prices. Young chefs and cooks get to concentrate on the food, not wait staff, the high rent, liquor licenses and snarky diners.


The first destination was located adjacent to a gas station parking lot and offered the finest fusion of Korean BBQ and Mexican cuisine. For this cart Koi Fusion, you have to follow it's changing location on Twitter. Who knew a Korean / Mexican taco could be so good for $3? Just up the road between the high rises was the second delight. Ziba's Pitas, situated among 20 other carts in a downtown parking lot offered a potpourri of home cooked-Bosnian cuisine. I doubt you could match the flavors and authenticity this side of the Atlantic. And there is something to be said to look the owner, cook, and server in the eye, talk about what is new, fresh and seasonal and watch their face light up and say, "I know just what you will enjoy."

Friday, November 6, 2009

November 6th Ciderbike

Autumn has always been my favorite season. Moving to Portland has only reinforced this view. All around the neighborhood are brilliant yellows, orange and red leaves. Nature seems to be rationing the foliage even after a few good storms. A quick Saturday ride down the street leads me to the Hollywood farmer's market where some of my other fall delights await.. . .mmmm Brussels sprouts. Yet it is not all familiar. I recently was given the opportunity to attend a very unique, cycle-centric fall festival.

A very creative and inventive new friend has devised a cider press using a bicycle as the power source. He has used all FSC certified wood and recycled parts. I'm no expert on Cider Presses, but his design is both elegant and effective ( l i n k ). He has attached the rear skewer of the bike to a stationary bolt that keeps the cycle stable and allows the rear axle to keep moving. After propping up the front, you are off to the races. A large, custom-made concrete fly wheel makes contact with the top of the rear tire and it in turn powers the spike-laden cider masher. The apples are loaded into the funnel shaped box and smashed down with the help of a stick.






Being new to this kind of process, I was pleasantly surprised at how much beer is involved in the making of Apple Cider. . ..its sort of like fuel for the "riders." Simultaneously drinking beer and biking is amazingly simple when you eliminate the whole need to balance and pay attention. I now have a whole new level of respect for water bottle cages and can assure the readers that NO WATER BOTTLES were injured or even USED in this cider party. After adjusting the seat height and opening my beer, I was off and spinning. It feels kind of strange at first, especially when a lot of apples are being pinned by the stick and suddenly offer up some resistance.

Once enough pulp was produced with the pedaling, the apple mash is transferred to the cider barrel with a large, threaded rod that compacts the pulp (pomace) and lets the juice flow. We constantly had jars, pots and pans down to catch the precious liquid. Different apples yielded different tastes and the ideal (I am told) is 1/2 tart (Winesap, Jonathon, MacIntosh) Apples, 1/2 sweet (Delicious, Fuji, Cortland) Apples. Riders were encouraged to wear rain jackets for the occasional and sometimes Vesuvian Cider Press blowout. It can get rather nasty with all that downward pressure. Although science can't explain it, Halloween costumes enhanced the cider's flavor throughout the entire the process.

This kind of inventiveness and creativity serves cycling well, for it intrigues people who would not normally climb onto a bike. Twice that day I heard the same comment from happy participants who said, "I have not been on a bike for at least a year." By simply giving the rider a purpose and making it fun, people take interest and really get into it. It still amazes me how much energy is wasted at the gyms who host spin classes. Why not power the building with it? Or devise a way to charge your phone or iPod while pedaling to work. Those pedal-powered lights have been around for years, why not lead it back to your pannier or bag with a USB cable? The innovative spirit and constant drive forward has served our society very well--and the bicycle is no exception to this.

Friday, October 30, 2009

November 1st (a Day of Firsts)

After a lengthy hiatus from the blogosphere, I have returned. Hello. Name's Jon. I'm a carpenter / green builder by trade and have recently re-located to Portland, Oregon with my sister and brother in law. We live in a lovely craftsman bungalow in the city. . .well, we are working on it and its getting lovelier all the time. Restoring a craftsman bungalow has always been a lifelong dream of mine. I am fresh off the boat to the Pacific Northwest with only 4 1/2 months under my belt. I have been thoroughly enjoying getting to know this dynamic city--mostly by bike. It is without a doubt, one of the most cycle-friendly places I have ever been to ( in the United States anyways). There are literally traffic jams of bicycles every morning during the commute hours.



I have always been interested in bikes. From the little Huffy-that-could with training wheels to my beloved custom titanium road bike that took 3 years of parts-scrapping on Craigslist. There have been some crashes over the years, with loads of skin and clothing and one cracked helmet being sacrificed to the bike gods. The low point had to of been when my old Bianchi conspired with my surfboard, futon mattress, loose straps and gravity on Interstate-5 at 80 m.p.h. The memory of epic rides eclipses any scrapes or falls taken. The image of so many beautiful cycle adventures start to stack up in my brain like dominoes. On a bicycle everything is simply in front of you and the rider determines the rest.


For me, cycling has always been about seeing your world at the perfect speed. Getting to school as a youngster, riding the concrete drain channels on a BMX in the hills surrounding my hometown, going to "jump city" at the local park, riding the big beach cruisers with the red foam handles . . .all at your own pace. As a kid, once you were on that bike, you were free to ride how you liked. That was the first real taste of speed, freedom, and movement I recieved. The view from a bike always seems to be slow enough to see things, details, everyday beauty, yet fast enough to get across town in a few heartbeats and drips of sweat. Perhaps this is why I still feel about 9 years old whenever I climb onto the saddle.


I recently took delivery of my new HAUL 2 and after hearing the bike shop tell me over the phone, "It's ready" I instantly morphed into a little boy on Christmas morning. I can't remember the last time I had a new bike, seems like ages. . .certainly the first as an adult. My best friend will painfully remind me of the time I strategically "parked" my crappy K-mart blue-light-special BMX behind my Mom's car in the hope that she would back over it. . . and she did. Thanks Ma. I may have loaded the gun, but she pulled the trigger.

When it rains, it pours. Being a recent California transplant to Oregon, I am experiencing an increase in precipitation--to be expected. But this particular precipitation comes in the form of "firsts" all in the same day:

First new license plate from another state ( no more dirty looks from Oregonians because I have California plates).
First time getting a NEW bike since being an adult (I always built them from left over pieces or bought them used)
First time riding a bike with full fenders in the wet--feels invincible.
First time owning and using Panniers on the back of the bike.
First bike with disc brakes



It seems crazy to actually steer FOR puddles, but with white tires, I have to clean them out every now and again. One thing fenders don't protect you from is soggy leaves on the road. Corners that used to get taken at speed and cranked over with the knee dropping now get the granny treatment. Even fooling around with the rear brake becomes dicey with the leaf slicks--slide stops are not supposed to turn into a 200-degree slide. Some of the leafy mounds are fun to crash through, but on the corners, its best to steer slow and wide unless you wish to slide into oncoming traffic or do a scary 360.


I wonder how long the luster of the new bike will last for? When does one stop wiping off all the dirt particles on every surface? Its difficult not to want to keep something new from looking otherwise. The same goes for this great new city, this great new feeling of place, purpose and belonging.