Monthly Archives: November 2013

Portland’s in-between spaces

I love it when people come to visit me in Portland and bring their bikes with them. (Or when people come to visit me in Portland and are willing to ride loaner bikes.) It’s so much nicer to be able to show people this city in a way that allows you to actually be in the city, moving through it by human power and at human speed.

For the last few days, my brother and his girlfriend have been staying with us–and of course they brought their bikes up, so we’ve been pedaling all over.

greenway Alex(lovely weather on the Greenway!)

Today, we wanted to take a “Portland” ride, which could go any number of directions but for us meant a ride around the Waterfront/Esplanade (with a stop at Saturday Market), through NW and downtown proper, then down the Willamette Greenway trail to the SW Circuit bouldering gym. (I’m not sure it would be a proper Honnold day without some climbing.)

circuit(getting rejected by a super objectively easy problem;)

My bro is much better at biking than I am at climbing (although it sure is fun:)

But them being here with their bikes reminds me how nice it is to be able to explore a city in a way that allows you to stop when and where you want, to not have to worry about parking or traffic. It reminds me how lovely it is to be able to get a sense of how the different parts of a city interact with and are connected to each other, to get a sense of the other people out and about.

The space between things, I think, is often more telling than the things themselves–and I love being able to inhabit the in-between space of Portland as well as the final destinations. Guests who are up for biking get to see those spaces of Portland, which makes for a much more full picture of the city.

I love having guests (and being guests:) who are up for biking or walking. You may see fewer destinations, but I think you see much more of the place.

Bike quote o’ the day

I was biking home today, slightly uphill, when another fellow on a bike came up on my left. “I’m cheating!” he said. “I have a motor!”

I smiled at him, since I love it when people say something when they pass me instead of just giving the straight-ahead, 100-mile, I-don’t-acknowledge-you-as-a-fellow-human-being stare.

“Is it cheating to have a motor on your bike?” I asked.

“Well, I don’t think so,” he said. “But I’m 75! At my age, nothing is cheating!”

Heh. Even though I don’t really know how I feel about motorized bicycles, I was kind of psyched about that old dude. Way to rock it.

So fricken lovely!!

Oh my gosh. Can you believe how crazy gorgeous it is outside today?? (Those of you not in Portland: it’s crazy gorgeous here today!:)

This is the kind of day I never dare hope for come this time of year: super sunny, bright, everything shiny–heck, you can even see Mt Hood! It’s cold for sure, but I’ll be damned if I’m not going to find every single excuse possible to be outside today:)

For sure I took a long run this morning, and the looooong way to work on my little bicicleta. I fricken love Portland right now!!:)

(And that’s enough exuberance for one post. I hope you’re all enjoying the weather too:)


Guest Post: A Year on the Roads

Welcome back to Dieter Loibner, who recently finished the last ride of his R12 challenge. What’s an R12 challenge? And what did it teach him? Read on! :) (And congratulations Dieter!)

morning_sun©Dieter Loibner

Okay, it’s over. Done and dusted. Twelve rides, around 200 kilometers each. That amounts to approximately 1500 miles, stretched out over 12 months. Those who rarely ride, shake their heads. “He’s nuts!” While those who really ride, could care less. “Wow, what a weenie.”

I’m a relative rookie to Randonneuring, so committing to a dozen rides (or Randonnées, hence the acronym R12) was a new challenge. In the process, I saw some stout countryside along the routes authorized by the Oregon Randonneurs and got wise to what it means to “ride around the calendar”: Slithering down Helvetia Road on patches of black ice. Getting parched by the sun while chasing the clock between Salem and Wilsonville. Wheezing through thin air up on Mount St. Helens.

up_yer_ash!200©Dieter Loibner(check out the bullet holes in that sign!)

I also learned about bike fit and maintenance, proper nutrition, dress code, packing spares and tending to the machine that provided motive power. However, the most valuable lesson was the calibration of self-assessment. I found the reality of the ride to be an effective therapy for narcissistic delusions, not just bulging waistlines.

None of that would have happened sans my friend Holden Hughart (RUSA # 5511). Without his patience, mentorship and guidance, I’d still be stuck in the loose gravel on Stag Hollow Road or bushwhacking for info control question # 4 on Pine Creek. If it wasn’t for him, I’d never have started the challenge, let alone finished it. Sadly, an injury cut short his R12 bid, but by that time I had gained enough confidence to ride the last few permanents solo.

dieter&holden©Dieter Loibner(Dieter and Holden, R12 buddies:)

Not to forget the people that crossed my course along the way. For example, staggering into Carlton Corners, stark raving mad with cold and hypoglycemia, an angel named Lisa behind the deli counter revived my flagging fortunes with a warm smile and a hot mocha. On the flipside: the jerks. Few and far between, but memorable. The most annoying one deliberately misfired the engine of his P.O.S. hotrod with an ear-shattering bang as he sped past on OR 224 east of Estacada. Not once, but twice.

climbing_hwy503©Dieter Loibner(climbing Highway 503)

Lastly, two notes from the file of bizarre incidents: On January 1, police in riot gear with guns drawn stormed a house in Gaston (population 658) just as we rode by. And in October, only a couple of miles away, on Spring Hill and Withycombe, I encountered a tractor with a lifeless bovine dangling from the front loader, upside down. Judging by the profuse bleeding from its head, the animal had just been slaughtered and was being carted down the road for processing, oozing a river of red on the chip seal.

So yes, life is a box of chocolate. You never know what you’re gonna get. The eclectic experiences I described here involved pedaling a bicycle to the best of my abilities, going places I chose and getting there at my own pace. In doing so I became acutely aware of the freedom and the independence this vehicle affords. And that, besides the camaraderie with other riders, is the key takeaway from a year on the roads.

maggies_buns©Dieter Loibner (randonneuring deliciousness at Maggie’s buns)

Thanks to the organizers of the permanent rides: Susan France, Lynne Fitzsimmons, Ken Mattina, Susan Otcenas and Dave Parsons.