Monday, September 29, 2008

Quintessential Portland

It doesn't get any more P-town than this.  I started the day by volunteering a couple of hours putting together boxes of goodies for the up-coming bike and walk to school day.

2008_0929_001_bikewalk 

Then it was off to Trader Joes to do a little shopping.  I brought my own bags of course, and loaded them up on Fezzik.  On the way home, I made a quick stop at Starbucks to pick up grounds for our new compost bin. 

While I was in the store, a woman sitting by the door said hello and asked how I was doing.  She said she'd heard about my mom a while after the fact.  I had no idea who she was.  Running into someone who knows me, but I don't remember? Check.

I couldn't chat long though, 'cause I had frozen goods to get home.  Next I loaded the Tikit into Jess's car and dropped the car off at the body shop for repairs.  I'd forgotten a key ingredient for the soup I'm making this week so I rode up to New Seasons and just threw the Tikit into a shopping basket. That got lots of stares and comments.

I stopped on the way home at Revolver Bike shop to pick up a few parts for this week's mechanic class.  They were busy working on building up a couple of new Yuba Mondo cargo bikes to sell.  The Yuba is a tank of a bike.  It can handle loads up to 400 lbs--more than I'd care to, or probably could pedal--and it's pretty affordable at sub $1000. 

2008_0929_007_kittensI also stopped to love up a couple of adorable little kittens hanging out on the sidewalk. The smaller one seemed quite prepared to let me hold her until the cows came home, or the mysteries of the universe were revealed, whichever came first. 

 

 

 

From the Garden...When I got home, I picked all the ripe tomatoes, and some basil from the garden and made spaghetti sauce from scratch.  It was delicious.  While the sauce was cooking, I went and added the grounds to the compost and gave it a good stir.

We have the Jones's in our sights--all we need is a few chickens and we'll be set.  I guess nature--growing up in Portland--has truly made it's mark on me.

 

...to the Pot...

...To My Belly. Yum!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Last Days of Summer

It's all coming to an end.  But at least we have this last gasp of 80+ degree weather (where were you in August???).  Jess and I have been enjoying a mellower pace this weekend as the frantic travel of the past three months winds down. 

One of Jess's friends was recently diagnosed with a metastatic return of her breast cancer.  (Have I mentioned how much I hate cancer? I hate you cancer!).  Friday we spent a few hours visiting with her, cleaning and playing with baby Sam.  I made another batch of quinoa stuffed peppers and we took it over as well.  All the stuff people came out of the woodwork to do for us when mom was sick.  I was so happy to do it and so pissed that it needed doing.

After we left, we headed to Seven Corners again, to drop off some parts for my cross check frame, which is finally in and should be built up in time for me to do an actual cross race next weekend.  I've agreed to 'try it out' once, but I don't expect to get hooked on a sport who's main features involve cold, wet and mud.

We watched the debate at Lisa's house where we were distracted by Essex and his latest cute ploys.  He's a hairs breath away from walking, and then, look out!

Saturday, after the River City women's ride, I was wiped out.  Jess suggested I pull out her outdoor lounge chair and take a nap in the sun, so I did exactly that, while she cleaned her road bike in the back yard.  Jess has free movie tickets, so after my nap I looked for a theatre movie to go to, but everything looked really stupid.  We opted for our Netflick, 13 Going on 30.  This was the third DVD we'd ordered, and none of them will play in our DVD player.  We finally made this one work on a laptop, so that's how we watched it.  Jess tends to fall asleep during movies at home, so they usually end up being two (or more) parters.

This morning we watched the last of the movie and then spent a very mellow day doing house organizing chores.  I have one more week before school starts and I'm trying to wrap my head about the idea of getting up early, deadlines, and being broke. 

In preparation for the end of my term as a full time house wife, we're trying to get in the habit of extreme meal planning--so when we both come home exhausted, we can just heat up some leftovers and be done with it.  We've tried this before, but I'm hoping this time it will stick. I spent several hours finding new recipes and making a spreadsheet with lists of ingredients for our favorite meals, for quick shopping lists.  I think in order to keep going, we'll definitely need to add some more quick prep meals, ala Rachel Ray--but less annoying.

At least I didn't have to cook today because my friend Edith invited us over for dinner--and when her son came down with a cold, she offered to bring the food to us instead.  So we had delicious pesto pasta, made with basil and tomatoes from her garden, and didn't even have to travel.  Life is good, and sometimes, life is really good.  After dinner, and good conversation, I took her out on the Dummy before she went home.

Ironically, despite Edith's lovely offer to spare us germs, I find myself with a tell tale tickle in my throat and downing my second cup of throat coat tea tonight.  I hope it blows over quickly 'cause I really don't want to spend my last week of freedom hacking up phlegm. 

Is it live or is it Memorex?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Group Ride

2008_0927_004_rivercity_ride

Jess did her first lead of a group ride today and she did an awesome job.  Her report is on her blog. We wish you would read it.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I See White People

A few months ago I went through another phase where I was sick of white people.  This might shock you, dear readers, but being a black gay girl in a state where black folks are less than 2% of the population (But wait! That's a whopping 6% in Portland!) isn't all it's cracked up to be.

This latest funk was precipitated by what I've taken to calling, the R______ incident.  Much like when you buy something and then see it everywhere, this incident focused my attention on just how many clueless white people are out there--and, as if I'd suddenly become a CWP magnet, I started noticing them everywhere.  It really made me want to stay home.

But I'm a social creature at heart, so against my better judgement, I headed out one summer evening to a backyard fete given by a well known Portland bike transportation geek for the attendees of the Car-free conference going on that week.

All was going well, until I wandered over to the fruit trays, where I struck up conversation with Christopher Larsen, a local judge who created the Share the Road diversion class that you can now opt for instead of paying a hefty fine if you get a ticket on your bike (or in your car).  At first I confused him with Christopher Heaps, a lawyer who's done a lot of work with citizen initiated citations for drivers who hit cyclists ('cause the cops sure won't hand out any consequences--oh yeah, unless the cyclist you hit is a cop too).

Surprisingly, Judge Chris hadn't heard about lawyer Chris, so I started to fill him in on the drama that was the first time lawyer Chris tried to use the citizen citation process--and he completely shut me down.  Oh it wasn't outright rudeness per se--just polite, flat out denial that anything I was saying might be remotely possible because, as he said, "the process is really quite simple--it's all in Ray Thomas's legal guide for cyclists.  Red tape in the legal system? Crazy talk!  He held his misguided ground, despite my insistence that lawyer Chris wrote a whole article on Bikeportland on how fubar it was just to get the paperwork accepted. 

Sadly, there was no computer handy so I could Google the article.   After a brief second wondering if I was in fact, crazy, I started silently fuming.  I realized that what we had here was a textbook example of White Male Privilege at work.  I marveled at how he could completely invalidate everything I was saying without even blinking.  I'm sure he thought nothing of it, and I'd be astonished if he bothered to google lawyer Chris's article as I suggested.  In any case, there was nothing to do at that point but remove myself from the conversation before I said something rude.

It's incidents like these that add up to making me crazy, sometimes for months on end.  I called an emergency meeting of the WBP, so I could vent about that and other stupid crap, like the funny looks I got from kids on our bike camping trip to Champoeg Park--as if they'd never seen a black person before (and, if they're from a small community in Oregon, it's quite likely that they hadn't).

The likelihood that I will ever move away from Oregon is pretty darn slim, so I learn to get through these periods of rage--and read lots of Tim Wise articles, because he gives me hope for the human race.

Even Clueless White People.

How to Spoil Your Girlfriend on Her Birthday

Peppers STuffed w/ Quinoa & spinach1. Start[1] the night before with a gourmet dinner of yellow peppers stuffed with quinoa, fresh corn and feta

2. Wake her up with a nice birthday card (with appropriately mushy sentiments) and a little present (in this case, an air horn for her new bike).

3. Take her out to the Little Red Bike Cafe for coffee on the back of the Big Dummy.

4. Be home by noon, for the next present: a two hour massage, courtesy of the other Jessica we love, Jessica Sims, LMT.  (She can make you feel good too, hit me up in comments for her contact info).

5. Spend the afternoon soaking up the sun on your back deck.

6. Make her a home made vegan chocolate cake with home made vegan-optional (she picked non) cream cheese frosting.[2]

7. Load up girlfriend and cake on the dummy and haul them both to a lovely dinner with friends at Screen Door restaurant.  Have your server bring the cake out after dinner with all two blazing candles (yes, I was kind this year). 

2008_0923_003_jess_birthday

8. Haul girlfriend and remaining cake home and put her to bed nice and early[3] so she gets a good nights sleep for work the next morning.

Notes:

[1] Actually, start weeks before hand by doing a butt-load of leg work so she can have the custom bike she should have gotten in the first place.

[2] Delicious Vegan Chocolate Cake:

3 c. flour
2 c. sugar
5 tbsp cocoa
1 tsp salt
2 tsp soda

add:

2 tbsp vinegar
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 c. oil
~mix~

add 2 cups water
~mix~
bake at 350 for 30-35 mins.

Frosting:

1/2 c margarine
1/2 c cocoa
1/4 c soy  (or rice) milk
1 lb. powdered sugar
pinch of salt
~mix together (mixer works best)


Non-dairy cream cheese frosting:

Follow directions on C & H Powdered sugar box for cream cheese frosting, but use Toffutti Better Than Cream Cheese & Canola Butter (white tub, green lid).  Experiment with ingredients for desired thickness.

[3]  Or not. :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pedal Potluck Picnic

Pedal Potluck Picnic

Periodically Jess gets bored with food.  It's not easy finding new things to eat when you're a vegetarian who can't eat tofu, and doesn't like mushrooms.  When that happens, she usually gets out the big three ring binder of recipes.  I get overwhelmed trying to plan new meals that she'll like so we've worked out an arrangement where she picks out recipes (with some input from me) and I cook them.  The stuff we tend to like is usually pretty labor intensive, requiring at least two hours in the kitchen.  But the results are definitely worth it.

The first of our newest culinary adventures was black bean burgers with lime-jalapeno mayo. If you'd told me a few years ago that I'd be willingly cooking with jalapeno, I would have said, "What you talkin' 'bout Willis?"  But as long as I ditch the seeds and don't go over board, I find I like the spice. 

Pedal Potluck PicnicOn the day I planned to make the burgers, I happened to check the Shift list and see that there was a pedal potluck picnic that evening.  Always looking for an excuse to drag out the summer, I decided to make the patties and then go mobile with the whole dinner. I loaded Fezzik (yup, I think that's the name I'm sticking with and extra points if you get the reference :) with a camp table, two chairs, two-burner Coleman stove, and a cooler with the bean patties and a Mediterranean carrot salad to share.

We met at the Alberta Coop.  Shawn of the Urban Adventure League usually leads the rides, but he was out of town so we had a substitute ride leader. My spider sense started tingling when the first thing she did was ask everyone if they wanted to vote on the destination.  Half the fun of the PPP is not knowing where you're headed.  But  I also didn't want to go too far south if I could help it, so I voted to vote.  Her suggestion was to go see the Chapman swifts.  I was kind of hoping for that destination so I was happy.

We got a bit of a late start and the leader was from SE and didn't know the area too well so the route choice was a bit lacking.  We found ourselves crossing MLK not at a light and when Jess suggested taking the sidewalk to a cross walk, she was shut down.  When we got to the school the show was well underway and there was a huge crowd and not many spaces left.  Suddenly the ride leader turned to me. "Do you want to pick out a spot for us?"

I was surprised and a little confused.  She seemed to be pretty reluctant to make any decisions--despite that being the job of the ride leader.  I declined to take over responsibility, but after following her up a steep hill that didn't lead anywhere, I decided to just go around the block to the flat part of the lawn where there was plenty of space.  Everyone else followed.

We usually have a good time on the PPP, but this time I found the lack of leadership irritating, and there wasn't the comradery that we've experienced on other rides.  It was a pretty small group, but no one really introduced themselves until well into the meal.  On the bright side, the food was every bit as good as we've come to expect.  Shawn has really done a great job of raising the standards of mobile potluck food.  The black bean burgers came out great (even though I was rushing and screwed up some of the directions) and I had fun hauling all the stuff.

We left shortly after the ride leader started talking about how she'd quit running and started smoking.  The other woman in our group shared that her dad died of lung cancer, but it hadn't really affected her decision to keep smoking either.  You know what they say, 'if you don't have anything nice to say...'   so we left, and had a lovely ride home.

After torturing my Flickr buddies with food pics, I promised Monkeykun the recipe, so here you go:

Pedal Potluck PicnicBlack Bean Burgers with Lime-Jalapeno Mayonnaise:
Makes 4 Servings

Lime-Jalapeno Mayo:
1/2 C mayonnaise of vegannaise
1 1/2 t fresh lime juice
1/8 to 1/4 t minced fresh jalapeno chile
1 T chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper

Burgers
1  15 oz can black beans rinsed and drained
2  green onions (white and green parts), finely chopped
1/3 C finely diced red bell pepper
1 T chopped fresh cilantro
3/4 C dried plain bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T mild or medium salsa (I used Trader Joes peach salsa)
1 T fresh lime juice
Salt and pepper
1/4 t ground cumin
1/4 C finely ground cornmeal
2 T vegetable oil (divided)
Toasted whole wheat buns

To make mayonnaise: In a small bowl, combine all mayo ingredients, salt and pepper to taste; mix well. Refrigerate if not serving soon.

To make burgers: Measure 1/2 cup black beans and set aside.  Place remaining drained black beans in the bowl of a food processor and process until pureed.  Add the green onions, bell pepper, cilantro, bread crumbs, garlic, salsa, lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste; process until well-combined.  Remove to a medium bowl and stir in the reserved black beans. Taste and adjust seasonings. Form into 4 patties.

In a shallow bowl, mix together the cumin and cornmeal.  Dredge the patties in the mixture.  Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet and saute the burgers, two at a time, until golden and slightly crispy.  Repeat with remaining burgers using the last tablespoon oil.

To serve: Spread the lime-jalapeno mayo on toasted buns, add burgers and serve.

Notes:  I used half mayo and half sour cream, 'cause Jess hates mayo. Turned out great. I also used orange peppers.  Don't skip the mayo, it's delicious!

If you make these, leave a comment and let me know how it went!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Aimless in Seattle

My mom's best friend's daughter is getting married today.  Although I don't like weddings, of course I wasn't going to miss it.  As luck would have it, Traci has interviews in Seattle this weekend in the ongoing search for her summer internship which will hopefully become her job after law school. 

She flew in Thursday night and drove up to Seattle Friday evening. Despite getting on the road at the peak of rush hour, we practically sailed over the I-5 bridge and into our northern journey. It was eery.

We're staying at a hotel in Bellevue so when I got up to take her to her interviews at a downtown law firm, I put the Tikit in the trunk, my laptop in my backpack and prepared to find a good hang out spot to write and surf. 

I had breakfast at Bacco's Bistro, which has been added to my list of automatic Seattle stops. Their hungry jack croissant breakfast sandwich with sausage is delicious.  Since it's raining here (of course), I took the occasion to make my first use of my built in cover to make the Tikit a little more incognito.  That was ruined somewhat when one of the waiters said loudly, "Is that your *bike*? as I shoved it under my table.  But they were totally cool with it.

This was my second time actually getting to dine in and when I asked for the restroom, I found the secret lower level where they have a whole other section of the cafe.  While passing through, I saw and said hi to my favorite waitress who has helped me all the other times I've eaten here.

A guy who seemed like a manager walked by my table while I was sipping tea.  He picked up on my expression and said, "What do you need?"

I told him I needed a comfy, free wifi coffee shop to hang out in for a few hours.  He sent me to Cherry Street Coffee House just up the street.  What it lacked in back support it made up for in pillows and I was able to settle in for a couple of hours, again with the (uncovered) Tikit under my table.  The only comments I got were from other customers and passers, usually as I was folding or unfolding during my travels.  Cherry St was a little cold and I had to sit with my oompa loompa hood pulled up most of the time. Another shaved headed woman came in wearing a loose, open neck sweater with nothing on her head.  I just barely resisted asking, "Isn't your head cold?" since apparently it wasn't.  Besides, I noted lots of Seattle-ites in shorts, flip-flops and other summer wear, despite the fact that it's 60 degrees and has been raining steadily harder all day, making me wish for rain pants, or at least RainLegs.

Traci called and said she had scored extra interviews and wouldn't be done until 4:00--three extra hours.  I didn't want to pay to park downtown all day, so I went and got Beechers Flagship mac n cheese for lunch and the required mini donuts from Pike Place before heading out of downtown. If the parking wasn't incentive enough, the ridiculous crowds at Pike Place would have steered me to other parts of town.  I did stay to watch one fish get thrown.

From there I headed to Beacon Hill.  Last time I was in Seattle was for the Seattle Century and I was too busy to stop and see Bikeworks, the Seattle version of the Community Cycling Center, with similar programs and missions, so I decided to stop by.

When I walked in, Kent was busy working, but he saw me and said, "What are you doing up here?" We first met in person at the Car-free conference in Portland, at which he and his wife gave a presentation.  He let me ride his little Dahon folding bike around, which crystalized my decision to get a folder of my own.  I've been reading his most excellent blog for quite a while too.

I told him I was up for a wedding.  Then his face lit up. "Are you going back to Portland?" Yes. "Can you deliver something for me?" Of course.  He gave me two of their newly minted Bikeworks caps to deliver to Beth and Michael Rassmuson at Citybikes.  When I mentioned River City, Kent's coworker brightened up too. "Do you know people there? Want to ask them if they want to consign this bike?"  Whereby he lifted bike down from two ceiling hooks that probably could have been hung using spider webbing, it was so light.  The frame is all carbon, and looks like one complete piece with no joinings.  Even I could tell it was probably a 7k+ bike.

"No one who comes into our shop is going to buy this bike," said Kent, and I couldn't help but agree.  I was only in the shop for a few minutes, but by the time I left, I had two used cross tires (don't start with the peer pressure! It's just in case....my cross bike ever actually gets built--but that is another story), a couple of Seattle maps, a secret surprise for Jess and one of Kent's newly produced home-made key chains made of an old spoke. 

My last stop was the Grown Folks Coffee House. I was pleased to find it's a black-owned coffee house and it had two huge recliners in front of a fire place.  There was a guy in one of the chairs leaned back like he planned to spend the night.  The upright seating wasn't nearly so comfortable, but the chairs were cushioned and the outlets plentiful.  It was a nice place to while away the rest of my alone time in the city. 

Cargo Bike Gang

Thursday night, 5:23pm: My phone rings and it's Jess.

"Where are you?"

"Where are *you*?" I reply.

"You're outside stalking me, aren't you."

"No of course not. That's totally beneath me."

But of course I was lying. I kidnapped her after work and we headed down to the Lucky Lab for the 2nd meeting of the Long Tail Cargo Bike club*  Since I got the Dummy I've started getting more followers on Twitter, one of whom is Crunchy Sue.  She PM'd me earlier in the day to see if I was going, so when my sis canceled her visit, I decided to run down, even though I'm pretty tired of going to SE every day (but that's another story).

Cargo Bike Gang

We had a fun time checking out all the different configurations of hauling machines. I thought I was small to have a Dummy, but Sue is even shorter.  She has 24" wheels to lower the bike and it seems to work great for her.  In the last batch of BD frames that came out, there were seventeen 16" frames made.  Corey said he got the email on Friday that they were available to order, and when he called on Saturday morning, there were five left.  I wonder who the other sixteen people are who got the other frames.  I was surprised the number was so small. I guess maybe they think not a lot of tiny people want to haul stuff.

2008_0918_008_cargo_bike_gangWe got a little distracted from our group because we ran into Janis (of PDOT fame) and spent some time hanging out and catching up with her.  She and her bf both have Long Haul Truckers, though not in the same color.  Janis has a pink accessory theme going that includes fenders, helmet and even pink Ortliebs.  It was totally hot. 

Jess and I always feel better when we meet other couples with matching bikes.  The fact that we are selling our old commuter bikes and getting new ones and they're *still* going to match is a little bit...something.  I've long since stopped caring though and I'm constantly encouraging her to 'embrace the dorkness.'   She also has a hot color theme going; blue fenders, bar tape, CK headset and bottle cages.  It won't be long before her red Ortliebs are replaced with blue ones. Anyone have a set they'd like to trade?  I don't think she's ready to ride around on a 'red, white and blue' bike--even if the election comes out like we so desperately need it to (but that's another post).

2008_0918_010_cargo_bike_gangAlso in Janis's party was our little friend Benjamin, whom we met at a party Janis put on a few weeks ago.  He'd grown so much since then, we hardly recognized him. He's four months old, and getting cuter by the minute.  His cheeks are just about ripe for the plucking. 

After bike-geeking, baby ogling and photo ops, we headed back to NoPo for grub and rest.  The next day, I was surprised (though I shouldn't have been) to see a front page feature on our little group on Bike Portland.  Pretty soon I'm sure the right-wing/oil industry/anti-bike pinheads will be getting together to figure out what to do about the threat of the 'Xtracycle Agenda.' Or the Gay Agenda of lesbians who ride Xtracycles. Or something like that.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Save Bitch



In a world without Bitch--Sarah Palin could end up President. We've already lost Don Lafontaine, this time we can prevent disaster.

Click on over and donate.

UPDATE: Bitch is saved! (for now). Wow, that didnt' take long. :) You can still click on over to donate. Does this mean we'll win the election?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

No Excuses


Pac Designs Ultimate OS "Big Load"
Originally uploaded by gyeswho

I love it when people tell me all the reasons they can't possibly bike commute--because for everyone of those people there is someone carrying around a bike in a box on their back, in a bag. LOVE. IT.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother

As I left the Mac Store on 7th & Multnomah, I was congratulating myself on staying out of SE, when I got a sudden urge for sour cream pancakes from Tabor Hill cafe.  I was only about 15 minutes away so I caved, and headed south.

As I was locking up my bike, I heard someone shouting "HEY!!! HEY!" from across the street.  I didn't know if he was yelling at me, but the last time I stopped for some guy yelling hey at me, a skeevy drunk guy tried to climb onto the back of my bike, so I was disinclined to look up.

The rider, for it was a rider, eventually crossed the street and he was in fact yelling at me.  And when I turned around, I saw why:

He Ain't Heavy, He's my Brother 

Matthew has had his Big Dummy, which he named Lucy (I definitely need to find a name!), for two months.  As soon as she was built up, he headed out of Seattle and hasn't looked back.  He said he's been staying with 'redneck' relatives in Newburg and this morning he ran away in search of an apartment in Portland, where he has determined he should make his home. Duh.

In a quick bike check, we discovered we have the same bars and saddle. I meant to ask him about his brakes, which sported a monstrous rotor.  I also found out that he built his wheels himself, which gives him +20 on me in bike geekdom.  We compared tires (his Schwalbe Marathon to my Big Apples) and commiserated about the hassles of getting them properly seated on the rim.  But he did confirm my suspicion that the Marathon's were pretty much bomb-proof in his ride down from Seattle.  He asked about putting the Dummy on the bus (don't bother trying), and spoke with glee about stopping at a light, and having fifteen cyclists stack up behind him.

As he got ready to leave, a guy passed us and stopped to ask about the bikes. "This one's all yours," Matt said, and I got the feeling he's had lots of these conversations.  I gave the standard answers and suggested he go test ride at River City Bikes. As of yesterday they had one built up on the floor.  I'll be curious to see how long it lasts.

Matt, if you're reading, good luck with your apartment hunting, and be sure to check out Bikeportland and Shift.  See you on the road.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

I lost 3500 lbs, Ask Me How

From 2000 Toyota Camry

I put the craigslist ad up yesterday and today the car is gone.  Before I went to bed, I had no less than five people all up in my grill.

"Please call."

"I'll be out your way in an hour."

Whoa, easy folks, I have socializing to do!

But today was just another trip to deep SE land to deliver more bike parts, with quick detour to REI to pick up yet another online order. Yes, I know we have a problem.

Anyway, the first guy called and said he'd be over at 3:00.  He was a nice older guy who's car got totaled and he's a home health care worker, so he needs wheels, like pronto.  I liked him.  There was of course, part of me that wanted the car to 'find a good home.'  It was, after all, mom's car.

The second guy had a thick Spanish accent and couldn't say my name to save his life.  He showed up with his friend or cousin or someone in tow, and was much more particular about the cosmetic defects and showed me how to tell that the hood had been replaced, as if I cared.

In each case there was the awkward moment when they ask if I'm married. I say yes, to simplify things.  "What does your husband do?" they ask.

"Partner," I say, out of habit.

"Boyfriend?"

"Something like that."

Accent guy says he asks because his cousin needs a good woman to help him out.

Greaaaaat.

When we get back from our test drive around the block, he wastes no time starting to haggle.  I'm calm though because the part of me that wants the car to go to a go to a good home is perfectly willing to send him on his way and hope the nice home care worker calls back. He senses this and in the end, he gives me my price.  He shakes my hand, turns to his henchman and says, "Count the money."

Now I truly feel like I'm in an episode of NY Undercover.

So just like that, my four wheels are gone. Thanks for the ride to MBO.

No doubt, there's a sand storm on my bookshelf right now.  Mom always hated the thought of me riding around at night, or in the winter, or in the winter at night.  Cheer up mom--Jess still has a car, and really, I'm much happier on the Dummy.

Speaking of, I really need a name for the Dummy.  LFoAB has El Dumbino (bummer about their delayed move to PDX btw).  Bike Hugger has Bettie.  I need something less generic, but inspiration hasn't hit yet. I'm open to suggestions.  And I've been looking at my stats, so I know there's someone reading this.  Don't be shy, chime in!

Monday, September 08, 2008

If I Should Die Before I Wake

We went over to T's house tonight for a lovely evening of dinner and conversation. She has a kitten lurking outside her house, who came in and made himself at home, the moment opportunity presented itself.

The weather is the kind of true summer evening I've been waiting for since last August--the kind where it's still short-sleeve weather at 9:30pm. The sky was Denver-like in it's clarity with a half moon watching over us. Jess and I sprinted like racers up a hill to be the first ones to call out two slug bugs we knew were parked in the next block (she won).

Halfway home we stopped at Freddie's to load up the Dummy with cat litter and ice cream and then continued on our way. There was hardly any traffic and a stunning view of west Portland from the bluff on Willamette Blvd, as we cruised along at 17 mph. It was a perfect night that made me feel lucky to be alive.

And then it was all shattered by yet another impatient, rude driver who almost ran us down.

As we approached our turn off Willamette, we took the lane and signaled. We turned left onto Bryant and I started to make the immediate second left onto Wabash when I heard Jess yell "WHOA WHOA WHOA!!!" Simultaneously, I heard the roar of a big engine and instinctively aborted my turn and pulled hard to the right, just as a huge pick-up truck roared through the intersection.

Had I made the turn, it would no doubt have smashed right into me. There's no way he didn't know we were there because he was behind us when we took the lane on Willamette to make our turn. Jess stayed in to the middle of the road after the turn in preparation for the second left and only moved over to avoid being run down, as he didn't show any signs of slowing or stopping for a mere cyclist.

Instead of basking in the glow of a nice evening spent with friends, I got home shaking, angry, and sad. What is so hard about sharing the road? What destination could possibly be so urgent that you need to kill or injure someone to get there five seconds faster? I will never understand.

It seems we just can't make a trip this summer without encountering some variation on this theme. On the way to T's house, we had just crossed Richmond St, which ends the 'busy' part of Willamette Blvd and we were riding side by side. I heard a car behind us so I dropped back behind Jess. As the car drove past, the driver yelled "Find a bike lane!"

Apparently, even on a street that probably sees two cars in an hour, we're expected to huddle on the sides like second class citizens, just so Mr Entitlement won't have to wait an extra .03 second to get by.

It's nice that bikes are getting lots of attention these days and all the people too broke to pay $4 are finally getting a clue--but the backlash effect is getting really old.

Can't we all just get home alive?

Greener Grass

Just when you think you have the bike of your dreams, something new comes along.

Burning man bicycle arch


Burning man bicycle arch
Originally uploaded by deadchick420

Now that's what I'm talkin' about!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

$375 to a Good Home


Before I subject myself to the low-ballers and flakes of craigslist, I thought I'd post here and see if any friends or friends of friends or strangers who read this blog would like to give a good home to my trusty commuter Scott Sportster P4.

After commuting on a mountain bike for many years, I finally decided I needed something a little more versatile for carrying things around--but I didn't want to give up on the idea that I 'could go off-road at any time.' Enter the Sportster. Of course it was Jess who found it first (she is selling hers too--get a matched set!) but naturally I had to have one eventually.

It's got 700cc wheels for zippy travel around town. A suspension fork to smooth out pot-holes or the trail. Braze-ons to securely mount a rack and full fenders (rack not included, fenders included on one bike only). An easy-to-adjust stem height for upright comfort or more aerodynamic positioning. Good components for smooth, crisp shifting. For detailed specs on the bike, go here. You can also find a couple of reviews here.

This bike has seen me through two years of commuting, bike camping trips and even some real live mountain biking trails in Sisters and Bend. It really is the perfect do everything bike. As you know if you read this blog regularly, it took something pretty amazing to make me give it up. But the garage is only so big.

If you'd like to give it a test ride, leave a comment or email me with your number, if I don't already have it. The bike is a size medium frame and could possibly fit riders 5'3-5'6.

If it does sell to someone I know (or within one degree), who is a new bike commuter, I will throw in two hours of bike tips--this could be in the form of route planning, maintenance tips, gear advice, flat changing demo or even a full on escort of your home-to-work or route of your choice commute. Part of my mission for the summer is to bike-buddy more new commuters, and this is officially Bike Commute Challenge month so if you know someone who's at the tipping point, pass the word.


Put the Fun Between Your Legs

Reason #5398 why my girlfriend is perfect for me:

Asks to borrow the Dummy to give her coworker a ride to work. Lilia has made some noise about wanting to bike, but doesn't currently own one. Jess took the opportunity to show her what she's missing. I got up at the butt crack of dawn to record the event (and, I admit it, I had to trade bikes when they were all done. Couldn't bare the thought of the BD sitting in a cage all day, when I could be taking my own advice--see title :).


Bike Pooling from Kronda Adair on Vimeo.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Racer Singles Bar


Meet the Team Ride from Kronda Adair on Vimeo.

This morning I represented Sorella at the women's meet the team ride. This is basically an opportunity for unattached racers looking for a team to check out different teams so they can find a good fit. When we rolled out, we had a group of about twenty or so riders, made up for 2-3 reps from each team and the unattached riders.

We spent some time doing introductions and talking briefly about our team. Sarah Tisdale was the other Sorella at the ride. She was quite modest about mention the fact that she's an Ironman now, but I took the liberty of bringing it up at every opportunity. One really should brag about doing something so ridiculously hard, even if it does prove you're insane...

We got going south on the Springwater and I sidled up to Jenn, (The second 'n' is silent- not JenN or Je-en), one of the freelancers. "How *you* doin'" I was smooth. I put all my best moves on her but she was pretty coy. Can't tell if she's really going to call.

Later when we went through Milwaukie, I picked a new target. I started to chat her up, but then the road turned uphill and she rode away from me like I was standing still. Hopefully I made a good impression on the descent.

I thoroughly enjoyed the ride. After leading the beginner women on bikes ride on Thursday, this was just what the Dr ordered. The point of the ride was to maintain a 'social' and 'conversational' pace, which, since I haven't been on a road ride in three months, meant it was just slow enough for me to keep up, but I'd pay for it later.

When we crossed the bridge in Oregon City and headed back north (and uphill) via Lake Oswego, I spent a lot of time trying stay in the upper half of the pack, but not look like I was killing myself to do it. But it was crystal clear to me that just about anyone there could have ridden away from me at any time. Makes me want to spend the winter doing intervals on the Dummy. But alas, some people climb and some crawl their way up hills so they can descend. I know which camp I'm in.

We passed a couple of groups of runners who were impressed with our style and numbers. A group of women running a trail along Hwy 43 hooted and hollered as we went by, so we hollered back. Later we passed a group of teenage guy runners who started mock racing us down the road.

The ride went pretty smoothly over all, except for a couple of tip overs when one woman didn't unclip soon enough after a missed turn. There was another crash at a red light on State St, but I didn't see who it was. It was great to have a huge group and just take over the lanes on State St and the Sellwood bridge.

When we got back, I rewarded myself with an egg and cheese bagel from Kettleman's, and then went on my daily trip to Seven Corners to check on the state of Jess's Cross Check. It's not done yet, but the rims and the spokes were out...

Friday, September 05, 2008

Summer is Not Over

I spent yesterday in the car, but I consoled myself with the knowledge that each time I drive it, could be the last.  I went to the car wash on Broadway and got the absolute works.  The car was pretty filthy all summer, but I refused to wash it till after my two road trips.

Then it was next door to Oil Can Henry's for some lube 'n' love.  One of my worries about taking cars to the shop is their tendency to be alarmist about the condition of your vehicle, in an attempt to sell you more services.  This time my experience was the opposite. "Wow, your air filter looks great!  Your oil level looks pretty good...PVC's look fine, I wouldn't worry about them for another ____ miles. 

I don't have a clue what PVC's are, but that's just another indication that I'm probably not meant to own a car.  I've always gotten by driving other people's cars when I need one, and I don't see why that should stop now.  All those mystery parts are in such great shape because I drive about once a week or less, except for the couple of road trips I took to Mt Bike Oregon.

I should know by now that if I start out they day with three errands, it's going to take all day. By the time I got out of OCH, it was after 3:00, and I'd promised to walk a friend's dog so I went to do that.

When I got home, Jess was making dinner and I just had time to get our poor neglected road bikes ready and stuff some food in my face before we headed over to Laurelhurst park to help out with the Women on Bikes ride.

Jess hasn't ridden her roadie in about a year, and I haven't ridden mine since early this summer.  After all my load hauling recently, it was a revelation to ride something so light and fast.  Add a little tailwind and our 20 mph cruise down Ainsworth seemed effortless.  I practically floated up the hill to the park. 

Part of the reason it had been so long was that the saddles we had on the road bikes were, let's say, less than friendly to the girl parts.  Getting on them was torture within minutes.  The search for a good saddle has been going on for years.  We have a saddle graveyard in our garage of all our rejected prospects.

Lately I've been really liking the WTB Pure saddle I have on both my MTB and the Dummy.  Based on that, and lots of recommendations from bike shop folks, we're now trying out the Deva saddle, also from WTB.  Based on our first short ride, I'm cautiously optimistic.

Women on Bikes Ride

Because we were so smokin' fast, we actually arrived on time to the ride.  There was a good group of twelve or so women gathered, but the leader never showed up.  These rides are usually lead by our friend Janis of PDOT, but she is in Seattle this week for the Pro Walk/Bike conference.  Since the sub didn't show, we agreed to lead the ride, to the relief of all the ladies in attendance.  We took a nice cruise over to Lincoln, arguably the best bike blvd in Portland, down through Ladd's Addition and over the Hawthorne bridge for a loop around the Willamette via Waterfront Park and the Eastbank Esplanade.  There were varying degrees of riding experience, so we took it pretty easy.  For one woman, it was her first time crossing a bridge on her bike.  The award for best style definitely went to the woman in pink:And the Style Award Goes To...

As we were going down Clay St, approaching the Esplanade, we were passed by three truck fulls of lesbians who hollered at us, in a good way. "Whoo hoo, lesbians on bikes! Looking good ladies!"  Most of the group was pretty amused--one woman said she'd have be sure to tell her boyfriend about it--but I think a couple of people were a little miffed.  Of course, the women were right on at least two counts...

I was glad we were there to help out, but I confirmed that I would make a horrible full time ride leader.  I missed being able to talk to Jess, who was bringing up the rear of the group.  Also, our average speed was 7 mph, which was particularly torturous on my road bike.  In novice groups, in order for them to learn good etiquette, there's pretty much of a constant stream of yelling out every. little. obstacle. "Car back! Car up! Car left!"

I prefer a group ride with a larger element of personal responsibility where the cues are a bit more subtle.  Despite the frustrating elements, I do like to help convert newbies into excited, responsible bikers, so in that sense, I had a great time.  And once we had delivered everyone safely back to the park, we got to motor over to Pizza-A-Go-Go for second dinner.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Live to Ride Another Day


Bike on Bike Love from Kronda Adair on Vimeo.

Today was the summer day I've been wishing for and just needed the weather to cooperate. I was scheduled to take my MTB in to River City for it's routine maintenance check up, which gave me the perfect opportunity to break out my TrayBien and perpetrate some more bike on bike love. I continue to be amazed at how smoothly the BD handles everything I can throw at it, though I really shouldn't be. Before I actually had mine, I spent plenty of time reading BD blogs and viewing BD porn on Flickr and they all pretty much said the same thing.

2008_0803_330_vancouver_day4I cruised over to the dentist's office, where Jess was just finishing up. Aaron, the dentist, told her that she is one of the few people that he would gladly trade teeth with, making her officially, the dentist's pet. She's quite proud, as well she should be. Check out those pearly whites! Aaron is also an avid cyclist and sometime bike racer, so he came out to ogle my new and old toy.

From there we embarked on a little circle of bike shopping that we would eventually reverse. It started with a call to someone from the OBRA racing list who might have a drop bar that would work for Jess's new Cross Check that she's building up. He happened to live about a mile from Aaron's office and he was home, so we headed over. After procuring the bar, it was off to Seven Corners to see Corey and drop off more bike parts.

If I spend any more time in that shop, I'm hoping to take home a paycheck. Oddly, when I go in there, I usually have a bunch of things to work on, and as soon as I go in, 80 other people walk through the door, and I spend three hours there. Jess waited about five minutes and then had Corey's undivided attention--at least between handfuls of chocolate covered peanuts, which he even shared. The shop was like a ghost town for at least forty five minutes.

During that time, Jess gave him measurements for setting up her bike and made a tough decision about which shade of blue bar tape would best go with her navy blue Chris King headset, sending Corey into fits of uncontrollable giggles. But supportive giggles.

From there we had lunch at the Clinton Corner Cafe. We sat outside and had a whole 20 minutes of fresh air before someone at the next table started smoking. But that's a rant for another day. The food was good and we watched people ogle the Dummy as they walked by, and we ogled all the bikes of the commuters riding by.

Clinton street could be considered the heart of bikey Portland and there were a lot of hot bikes to watch, including a TON of Surlys. It seems lately as if Surly might be taking over the world. Corey told us that 7-Corners is the third largest Surly dealer in the U.S. which maybe explains it. We even saw another Big Dummy ride by and I couldn't stop myself from shouting "Dummy!" at the guy. He looked over at us, but he was plugged into his Ipod, moving fast and my Dummy was hidden behind a parked car so I'm sure he didn't see it. I was sad I wasn't riding when I saw him so we could compare notes. But with all the folks at shops who said they were in the process of building one up, I'm sure I'll be seeing more of my fellow Dumb riders on the road soon.

After that it was off to River City to exchange some parts and pick up some others. In addition to dropping off my MTB for service, I had notice that the seat bag I bought in June was already ripping at the seams. That got replaced with no problems, and returning our seat posts was equally smooth. We bought straight when we needed set back. They didn't have any in stock, so we'll probably be making the rounds at some more shops tomorrow.

The small hitch came when I tried to exchange an old River City long sleeve wool jersey. I got it as a gift and I've had a long time, but haven't worn it much because it's shown a disturbing tendency to fall apart. I pulled it on the other day and discovered *five* new holes. Fresh from my success exchanging my three year old Keens that were literally falling apart at the seems for shiny new ones at REI, I was hoping for similar luck here.

Mark, the manager came out to talk with me while he seemed receptive and willing to accommodate at first, he ultimately decided the holes were from moths and instead offered to sell me a new one at a discount. "That's OK, I've given you guys enough of my money," I said, and it's true. I've probably spent close to $4k in dead mom money in the past two years just at RC. I'm trying to ease out of the rampant shopping mode in preparation for school. I hung up the new shirt I'd been holding up to see if it would fit and held out my hand. He could tell I was pissed and wouldn't give me the old shirt at first. "Can I have my shirt back?"

"Yeah, you can have it." But it was another few seconds before he handed it over. I could almost see him trying to figure out how to save the situation. I wasn't pissed that he said no, so much as that he said yes first, and then backed out. Either have a policy and stick to it, or make a decision and stick to it. I thought it was really poor form. I went back to find Jess and told her, "Well Dorothy, we're not at REI anymore." I like River City, and generally have good or great experiences there, but I also make sure I buy things I don't think I'll need to return. As a small shop, they tend to be a little stricter about such things. The jersey swap was a long shot to begin with, but I didn't like being given false hope.

Corey had mentioned concerns that Jess's used drop bar might be a little narrow, so she spent quite a bit of time looking at other sizes and talking to Brandon, our favorite mechanic (and the manager of the dept). He helped us for over an hour when we went in to buy the bulk of the parts for our bikes and was super patient and nice. He offered to let Jess bring her bike in and try the bars she thought she wanted but I gently suggested maybe she should just buy them and have them installed in the first place.

"She's ready to strangle me," Jess told Brandon. Not exactly true, but I could already envision the frustration of getting a new bike that didn't quite fit, coming into RC to maybe find they didn't have what she needed in stock--let's just say her luck is not that great in general, and I thought it best to get while the getting was good.

Where does the day go? Suddenly it was 5:45 and we had 15 minutes to pay for the bars and hustle them back over to Corey's, which we did. As the public relations manager of the relationship, I got to call the OBRA guy and see if he would take the bars back and return our funds, which he promptly agreed to do. Classy guy. And that brought us full circle on our shopping journey.

On the way home, we stopped to see Lisa, Spike and Essex. Because of my cold, which is not quite gone, I couldn't touch the baby and it was pretty much torture. But he was still fun to watch. I tried to give my leftover snuggles to Otis the dog, but he was laying down some farts that had to be smelled to be believed. We were were relieved when Spike decided to take him on a walk.

When we left, we headed through the Mississippi neighborhood and north on Interstate to stop at New Seasons on our way home. Just before Killingsworth, we were almost mowed down by a huge semi that passed us with inches to spare, although there was an entire empty left turn lane he could have used to pass us safely. Jess screamed and nearly had a heart attack. I was calmer in the moment, and veered onto the sidewalk at the first opportunity. Then we both sprinted to the corner, where the lethal trucker was sitting at a red light. His windows were closed, but I'm sure he knew why we were both screaming at him.

"Too close!" yelled Jess.

"You almost killed us!" I added.

His reply was to rev his engine a couple of times and give us a look that said plainly that he really didn't give a sh*t if he killed us. As long as I live, I will always fail the Save vs Comprehend-idiots-who-have-no-regard-for-others throw. (Blame Wil for the D&D reference). We stayed on the side walk until he was well past, and I waited till we were safely parked at New Seasons to get the shakes. That was definitely my closest call of the summer. I sure would hate to die when things are going so well.

But we're both fine and we'll live to ride another day. And despite the occasional jerk off, I'll still take two wheels over C/offins/ars any day. Amazing that over 40,000 people die per year due to car crashes and we're so ingrained in car culture as a country that we largely accept it as a given.

Speaking of cars, anyone interested in buying a 2000 Toyota Camry? In great shape, hardly driven.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Life with Dummy

video

It's been a really nice labor day weekend, except for the totally crappy, October-like weather. Our plans for Shakespeare in the park were dashed by cold and rain. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Saturday, I took Jess out for her first ride on the back of the Dummy. We went to the Little Red Bike Cafe, 1 mile from our house, for coffee. When we pulled up, a couple I had met a few weeks ago were sitting outside with their little boy who is about three and totally adorable. I introduced Jess and they wanted to know about the bike of course.

Then while we were sipping our java, another couple came up and locked their bikes up to the pole next to us. Of course I was checking out their bikes--it's a good thing my wandering eye runs to bicycles and puppies. They were both road bikes and one was a Scott, which I've been seeing more and more of lately. We struck up a conversation and it turned out they had just moved her from Utah, in part because of our great bike culture. (Probably the other part was just to escape Utah, not exactly known as a lesbian haven, but I didn't ask). We talked bike stuff, locking tips and I turned them on to a few resources. I seem to be meeting a lot of people lately who are moving here for the biking, which I love.

After coffee, it was my turn to ride on the back of the BD. It was super fun and I'll have to see if I can talk Jess into pulling me around more. Back home, we switched bikes--Jess on the Tikit and me back on my Scott--and rode over to NE to pick up a Zip truck for a few hours so we could pick up some more rocks for our yard path project. The ticket went into the truck cab and the Scott was locked up by our parking spot so I could return the truck later and ride home.

We were careful not to say that we were 'done' one we had our load, which was good because we had to go back immediately and get more stepping stones. Jess spent the evening working in the yard, while I cleaned up inside and then we watched one of our Netflix movies and Jess stayed awake for the whole thing!

Dummy LoadSunday, as we got ready for Shakespeare in the park, we realized it was misting. A few minutes later it was raining in earnest. We hoped it might clear up by the time we got over to SE, so I still packed up our camp chairs and blanket on the BD. I busted out the Bob trailer drysaks I was hoping to keep stored a little longer. They work perfectly on the BD, allowing you to load a massive amount of stuff and still keep it all dry--essential for hauling through a rainy Portland winter.

We rode to T & L's house and the rain was still coming down off and on. So we went to plan B, which was having lunch and visiting with them at their house. We stayed a few hours and enjoyed a delicious lunch that included a sandwich bar, watermelon, peaches, banana bread and americanos from T's new espresso machine. The only bummer was how cold I felt the whole time, even sitting inside.

When we left, we put on all our rain gear, which depressed me no end. While I waited for Jess outside Trader Joes, I watched people come and go in their flip flops and t-shirts, in defiance of the weather or maybe they just don't have any sense. I never was one of those people than can just run around in skimpy clothes when it's 50 degrees and raining.

Jess came out of TJ's with a 30 lb grocery bag and a watermelon for me to carry. She helped out by taking the bag of lettuce. Gee, thanks. :) The load was fine though, the BD takes it all in stride. By the time we got home, the little tickle in the back of my throat had become a full fledged cold. My plan to help in the yard was foiled and I spent the night shivering, despite wearing three shirts, a hat and wool socks.

The biggest bummer about getting sick, was not being able to visit Lisa and Essex on Monday, but I did get in a coffee date with Eris. I rode the Tikit over to Blend Coffee Lounge and it sat folded up next to me while I drank tea and wrote on my laptop. So quintessential Portland I can hardly stand myself. When I left, a guy followed me outside. "I'm so curious to see this!" I think he had never seen a folding bike before or knew they existed. I gave him a demo, and told him about the Bike Friday web site. It's a good thing I'm a very social person. It's kind of cool having bikes that are such conversation pieced. Though truth be told, I can have a good conversation about any bike.

The weather seems to be on the upswing for at least a week or so, and my cold seems to be running it's course fairly quickly. Jess has the next two days off and we actually have NOTHING PLANNED! It's a miracle. I'm hoping to get some boring stuff crossed off my to-do list and I've got tons of catch up to do on this blog. Stay tuned.