Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I've been putting this off for a while, mainly because I have very little positive to say about the experience. Because of the train schedules I had to start my ride at about 11:30 am. That meant that right about the time that I got to the first serious climb it was about 80-85 degrees. I didn't have that much water with me, and the rack I used carried the weight too high, so I had to fight the bike trying to tip when I stood up to climb. My handlebars were a little too low but I figured that I should wait until I couldn't stand it any more and then move them up for some relief. This was about the only piece of strategy that paid off, other than putting my messenger bag on a rack, even if it was a shit rack. My bike has no provisions for a rack so it was my only choice last minute. The tough part of the ride was to Lompoc and pretty much most of the way to Guadalupe, except for the last bit on this boring farm road that I swear I could see both ends of from the middle. By the time I got to SLO it was dark, and it had cooled off, and I was in such a zombie-like state that the only emotion I could muster was relief. I found out where the nearest Mexican food place was and walked there, and stopped off at 7-Eleven to get a Newcastle or two.

This is the start of the "Bike Route" basically the shoulder of the freeway. Every Portlander who complains about cars driving too fast should have to ride this road to get some perspective on what fast is, the speed limit is 65 mph. It was fun to get sucked along by the trucks.

The first 20 miles was leaving Santa Barbara, and it was relatively flat, and I caught a lot of lights, so it was hardly even a warmup. Before I did this ride I would have considered this first leg a substantial ride.

Not sure if you can see it but there is a tunnel that you get to go through with cars about a foot off your shoulder. I turned on my blinky and went for it, thankfully it's a very short tunnel. There is a little "Share the Road" sign at the entrance.

This is where the hell hills start, the first one being the toughest, 8% grade for about 4 miles. There's about 3 or 4 more after this, shorter but as steep. Needless to say I stopped many, many times, and almost collapsed once. More water would have helped. I had some apples and bananas with me, I'm not one for those chemical gels and rubbery Power Bars.

This is the view down the hill from the first time I ran out of steam.

And this is the view up the hill. See where the road turns? That's about halfway.

And the view back down to that turn...

And up to the summit, but that's not really the summit. The downhill after this had me on the brake almost the whole way so I could keep up with my low gearing.

This is the view west from that never-ending farm road. A little past halfway mile-wise, but most of the effort was behind me. From this point on the ride just kinda dragged.

I stopped down the street and regained my composure before riding up to the Hostel. Thankfully the very last bit was downhill.
The folks at the Hostel were super friendly and accommodating. I went and got a burrito and brought back some chips, salsa, and guacamole to share. The Germans thought the mild salsa was spicy. I went to bed fairly early, and passed out before I could finish Newcastle #2. The next morning, after going for a short ride to keep my legs moving, I went and got a box at a bike shop, carrying it back under my arm. I boxed up my bike, and walked a block and a half to the Amtrak Station to check the bike in. The train ride was uneventful, and pleasant despite it being 24 hours long.

I'm glad I'm back in Portland or more accurately Aloha. I'm back with my family in familiar surroundings, ready to give Portland one more try. At least now I know that I was sort of idealizing San Diego, and how good I have it, especially getting around by bike in Portland. I've also gotten perspective on what "difficulty" really is, and what I can accomplish if I keep my cool and just keep going.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I'm back in Aloha, Oregon.

The bike ride went OK, more about that in a later post. I got into SLO as it was getting dark and spent the night at Hostel Obispo. If you are ever in SLO I strongly recommend staying there, great group of people and a beautiful old house.

I decided to go back to Aloha because I miss my family, my Australian Cattle Dog, and my little garage. I spent most of the day yesterday tearing down an old Novara X-R and then painting it. This bike is worth painting because it's fillet-brazed Tange MTB chromoly. It's kind of an oddball bike, basically a mountain bike with drop bars, and oh yeah it's got indexed BarCon shifters! Unfortunately it was an ugly shade of 80's purple, with pink and yellow graphics. I wanted to paint it metallic brown but couldn't find anything that color, so I settled for a metallic green, that I shot over a black base to tone it down, and helped out the gloss with some acrylic clearcoat. Plasti-Cote paint dries fast, so after I took the dog for a walk I assembled it. THIS is the bike I should have used for my SB to SLO ride.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Goin' on a little ride...

Taking Amtrak to Santa Barbara, then riding to San Luis Obispo, and then boxing up my bike and taking Amtrak to Portland. I'm going back up there already, I miss my family too much.

113 miles that I need to bust out in one day. There's only one truly evil climb. I've got a new tire and some better pedals, and my brake pads are good. Yup, a century on a track bike. I'll take pictures along the way and blog about it when I get to Portland, my laptop is too heavy to take with me. Stay tuned.

And here's map of the climb at mile 30, steepest part is 8%.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Kinda feels weird...

...to post these pictures of myself, but Autumn is such a great photographer. I had them taken for my girlfriend Mirand.

Laying Frame

Damn I love slammed cars. There are very few vehicles that don't look good lowered, but certain ones look great slammed, just laying frame. I particularly like old trucks, almost anything big and American, and vintage VWs on the ground, although 30's cars tend to look "broken" when they are this low. This is the San Diego I knew and loved, rad cars like this driving around all over the place. Maybe they all got sold to Japan, or maybe gas still costs too much. Maybe it's because i'm getting around by bicycle and just not covering the ground I could on my Vespa or one of my motorcycles that I used to own.

I'm pretty sure this is a 1952 Ford, it had tubular A-arms and Air-Ride I imagine, and another disappointing SBC. I wish people would just put fucking Ford motors in Fords, you can't tell me they are any less reliable when the majority of Police cars are Crown Vics.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sunday Funday bikes one last time

San Diego has been fun, but I'm going back to Portland. So here's one more shout-out to the local fixed gear riders.

Noah's Eddy Merckx

Javier's "Cretin"

Laura's "La Douche"

Nathan's Leader

Jeana's Soma

My friend Mike's bike

Mike Stobbe, that is. I've known Mike since he rode a Vespa with the Night Stalkers Scooter Club. He did most of my tattoos, too. It's a Pan/Shovel, in a Panhead frame. I don't know much about Harleys, but I know what I like...

I love the way this bike sits, with it's 4" over front end. It's weird, in person it looks really small, but when you sit on it, you know you are on a Big Twin. The style leans towards Frisco, with the mids and custom-made Z/lane-splitters. I think the real influence is the movie "Wild Angels" cuz this bike could have rode right out of the movie screen in 1966.

Chopperdaves Casting Company made this neat bird-catcher.

Mike made this exhaust out of a myriad of pieces, including some ripple tube from Pep Boys. He welded it all together, smoothed down all the welds, and then had it all chromed. The bracketry supporting the cocktail shakers is as well thought out as anything you could buy out of a catalog, and Mike said he paid extra special attention to making sure it bolted right up, and that you didn't have to force it around to get it to mount up, which goes a long way towards keeping shit from cracking and falling apart. He also made those neat little fender supports from a Bung King kit, and had them chromed. He had a bunch of stuff chromed, and we all know what chrome costs these days.

I love open primary drives, it's the main reason I want to build a Harley. I will, if I ever finish my Triumph TR6SC. Mike modified the clutch pedal a little, so he could use the matching white rubber peg that goes with the footpegs, and then had it chromed. Very sixties, all this chroming going on.

I really wanted to ask him to ride it, but the combination of a 93" stroker motor, tall drive sprocket, and jockey shift/suicide clutch, made me think there was too much potential for disaster. It's for sale too, but if I broke it, I couldn't buy it.