Category Archives: Materials and Gear

The stuff that gets you places

Introducing my excellent new bikey:)

Ladies and gentlemen: this has been a few years in the scheming, but finally, here it is–my new bikey.

soma double cross disc(hell yeah!!)

It’s a Soma Double Cross–steel, which I’m excited about–with disc brakes, which I’m also pretty excited about. I intend this to be my new travel and crap-weather bike, a bike with racks and carrying capacity and a little more heft (and a lot more fender clearance;) than my racey Trek.

I’ve been riding it for just shy of a week now, and it is amazing. Of course, any new bike is going to feel amazing, but still:) It’s exactly what I wanted out of a bike–which makes sense, since Mark at Upcycles helped me build it up from the frame. (A huge thank you to Upcycles for ordering the frame for me, finding all the parts I wanted, and giving up basically a whole Sunday to have a bike-building party with me. Super solid.)

So far, it’s done me pretty well in this crazy snowstorm we’re having, too:) The tires are only a little wider than on my Trek, but they feel way more solid in the slippery. A good omen.

I am seriously so excited about this bicycle. I cannot wait to take it on tour. And everywhere else too:) Is it too early to start thinking about better-weather bike adventures yet?? Who wants to go for a ride?? :)

Hauling by bike: the saga continues

Sometimes when you’re on a bike, you end up buying something bigger than what you expected and it doesn’t quite fit your carrying capacity.

In those cases, you improvise:

whiteboard burley

That’s right. That is a bigass whiteboard in my not-bigass trailer, propped upright by my backpack and tied in place with my jacket. And however hokey that setup looks, it made it all the way up the hill to the zoo.

I’m glad it didn’t rain on me:)

Bike bells!
Or, re-learning how to pass people

For a long time, I’ve had bike bell envy. My handlebars–both the ones that were stolen and the new ones I got to replace them–are super thick, and I’ve never yet found a bell mount that fits around them. So while people cheerily dinged their bells on the Eastbank Esplanade, say, I was relegated to saying “on your left” and hoping my voice would carry over the sounds of nearby I-5.

Sure, I probably could have cobbled something together, but this was a case where the activation energy required was just that much higher than how much I cared about it;)

But! Enter David! For my birthday, he got me a bike bell that mounts on the stem. Which is awesome not only because it means I can actually attach it to my bike, but I can also attach it to my bike while still using my handlebar bag!

trek + new bike bell(isn’t it awesome?? Ding ding!! :)

I’ve had this bell on my bike for two and a half days now, and I’ve gotta say–I feel like I need to re-learn how to interact with people now that I have this whole new gadget.

I sort of thought I would just put a bell on my bike and then I could ding it when I passed people, but it turns out that doesn’t feel quite right. If a person’s not actually in my way, for example, but I just want to let him know that I’m going past, a bell ring seems almost like overkill. Not quite aggressive, but even this super cheery bell seems somewhat intrusive in that case.

On the other hand, I don’t like to pass people without at least letting them know that I’m there. So for right now, I’ve been using an only-slightly-more-rational-than-random approach of saying “on your left” or “hello” or “how’s it going” when I go past someone without them necessarily having to do anything, then using my bell when I want to make absolutely sure that someone ahead of me knows that I’m coming up.

I just want people to feel acknowledged and warned but not pestered. And I’m not quite sure yet how a bell fits into that.

But I sure do like that shiny, happy little bell! :) Thanks, David!

Anyone else out there have a bike bell? Is there any common bell etiquette that I should know about? Please enlighten me.

Ode to wearing out

These are my running shoes:

New Balance Minimus

They have gone many, many miles with me, through mud, grass, rocks, dirt, puddles, rain, even snow. They’ve run in Washington Park and Forest Park and Mt Tabor. They’ve run behind countless waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge. All summer, I wake up often in the dark and they take me through Oxbow, Wildwood, and Eagle Creek before the sun rises and work starts. They’ve taken me through Ashland and Sacramento and Morgan Hill. They’ve run the hills of Tahoe.

Basically, they come with me everywhere.

Sometimes, they make me feel like I’m flying; sometimes, it feels like I can barely drag them over the ground. Sometimes, especially in the dark, they catch on tree roots and send me tumbling. They’re not magical, but despite the random tumbles it’s also true that I’ve never been injured in them the way I eventually have in most of my previous running shoes. It may just be that because they’re so minimal I don’t run on pavement with them, thus sparing my joints the extra shock of “civilized” surface. Perhaps any shoes run only on trails would behave similarly.

I have loved these shoes. But today, it’s time for them to retire.

As you can see from the picture, they’re a little bit shot. My foot sticks through the front where I’ve worn out the fabric. The balls of both my feet hammer the ground through the barely-extant bulge of stretched rubber that used to be a sole. They’ve never been much for padding anyway, which is why I like them, but I think the day has come for me to admit that these shoes are done.

I sort of hope that my life can be like these shoes–except longer;) I hope to feel, eventually, like I’ve worn out through good use, that I’ve squeezed every last drop of usefulness out of my time, that my days have taken me to all the beautiful places–physical, mental, whatever–that I want to go.

Heh–and then, when I wear out, I want to be able to replace all my parts and start over, just like buying new shoes:)

NEW New Balance(My new shoes!:)

Tonight, I christen these new shoes, which are actually just a new version of my old shoes. May they also have a long and fulfilling life of much happy running:)