Friday, November 21, 2014

Universal


My last day in Portland, a few weeks back, I woke up early and went for a walk in the pre-dawn dark. After grabbing an Americano at Crema, I began meandering back to my guest-house, when the skies opened, and I found myself under a full-on down-pour.

It had been drizzling pretty much the whole time I was in Portland, but I quickly learned that true Portlandians just ignore drizzle. (In fact, I stopped using my umbrella the first day when I sheepishly realized no one else used one. I was made to feel like a wuss holding that thing over my head.) But that was a mere mist; this was real rain.  Looking for shelter, I ducked into the nearest place with lights on, which happened to be Universal Cycle. It was 6:45 am. And the place was open for business.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Happy Toes


My feet are humming. They’ve been like this all day. Tingling, buzzing, a low-level vibrating. Call it a circulatory hangover from this morning’s bender of a frigid bike commute. For me, this thrumming sensation in my toes is a surefire sign that winter cycling season is upon us.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

LND


Is this the Last Nice Day of the season? Could be. It’s 10 degrees C in Edmonton, downright balmy for a time of year when the highs and lows are dominated by single digits and minus signs. You barely need a jacket out there. On a gift of a day like this, I think to myself: I absolutely have to get out on my bike.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween in Portland


“Halloween is tough in Portland.” This according to Terry, who runs the Everett Street Guesthouse where I stayed in the funky neighbourhood of Laurelhurst. What she meant is that Portlandians are generally so tattooed, pierced, bearded, and eccentricly clothed, that, as Wolfman Althusser might say, it is always already Halloween in Portland. When October 31 rolls around, how do you step it up?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

City of Fenders



I’ve never seen so many fenders. Or, for that matter, so many Subarus, or Priuses, or beards, nudie bars, doggy daycares, or really fine craft beers I’ve never heard of. But it’s the fenders that warm my heart. Rain is reality in Portland, so if you’re going to ride a bike here—and an impressive number of Portlandians do—then it only makes sense to fender up.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Portland Postcard


This is Saltzman Road, just west of Portland, Oregon, easily my favorite part of today’s ride up along Skyline Road and then around lovely Sauvie Island.

Saltzman Road isn’t really a road so much as a path up a mountain. Cars, technically, can drive part way up a narrow, switchbacky, crudely-paved laneway, but a gate forces the car people to park and walk. Bikes, however, can keep going up. And up. The climb is about 3000 feet, and the road gets narrower and narrower, while the forest gets thicker and thicker, ferns and moss closing in on all sides. Near the tippy top, fog filled in the few remaining open spaces.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Review of O2 Cycling Rain Jacket


My O2 cycling jacket is mortally wounded. As you can see, it’s got a huge gash down the back, a bloodless death wound that severely compromises its status as “raingear.” I will attempt to patch it up with duct tape, but I fear the jacket’s days are numbered. Which is too bad because it served me well.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Pit Stops: Pee-Horse Corner


Somewhere out Villeneuve way, there’s a little pull-out beside a fenced field populated by a couple of horses. In our little cycling community, this pit stop has come to be known as Pee-Horse Corner. We almost always stop at the pullout to say hello to the noble beasts and take a quick break. And to pee.

The correlation between this corner, horses, and peeing is not something we ever planned. It just kind of happened. The corner is a convenient halfway point on our usual northern loop, so it makes sense to stop thereabouts.  But over time, somehow, I’ve become conditioned to associating horses at the corner with the act of urination—my own.