Another new reality

For me, at least. It’s been ages since I’ve had any bikey news, and am ashamed to say I have hardly been on my bike in the last two years. I’m not sure why I didn’t ride much last year, but this year got off to a very bad start when I contracted either bronchitis or walking pneumonia back in March. It took a long time to fully get over that, and when I did, the weather was still crappy. Maybe because of the prior respiratory problems, my allergies went into overdrive this year, thus further preventing me from even being able to be in the front yard pulling weeds. I’m sure my neighbors were terribly sympathetic (actually they were probably about to report me to the city’s code enforcement. Such nice neighbors I have).

So my poor aluminum steed has been patiently gathering dust in the living room (at least I don’t make it live in the garage) all this time. I think I got out on a couple of rides, but nothing like I should have been doing. Plus, now that I’m taking mass transit to work, I have even less time on weekends to ride because I’m trying to catch up with everything I don’t have time to deal with during the week. Blah.

I have now hit on a new way to incorporate my metallic friend into my day. Instead of either walking to the train in the morning, or (worse) driving (it’s just about 4/10s of a mile from my house, too stupid to drive but I do it a lot) I have finally invested in a backpack to cart all my daily crap, vice the purse and tote bag, and have this morning begun to ride my bike to the train. I have panniers, but am concerned they would fall off the bike when I hoist it up onto the bike peg on the trains, and it’s too much work to keep taking them off and putting them back on. Backpack seemed to simplify things. All went very well this morning. I left a little later than I planned, but was able to ride hell-for-leather and made it in time. I even learned how to use the bike carriers on the front of the bus. I have to take the light rail to the express train, and then a bus to get to work via mass transit. It’s not as bad as it sounds, but does take about twice as long as driving myself. So I either pay in gas, or time. I took the bus from the transit center to get to work, but it’s only about 3 miles (I think) so when I’m better prepared with clean clothes to change into at the office I can ride it. I’ll ride over this afternoon after work and probably beat the bus. At that point I don’t much care if I break a sweat.

It’s amazing how many comments I get and how many conversations are sparked when I ride, though. Guys come by to talk about the bike (most of them think it’s a man’s bike because it’s black and has a higher bar than they’re used to seeing on a woman’s bike. It’s not the step-through cruiser style). I always get props for having a cool bike. I think riding in my regular clothes this morning was a plus too, it may encourage others to try riding who don’t want to go with a spandex wardrobe. And being female I got a lot of interested looks. People are used to seeing guys with bikes on train, but in all the time I’ve been taking the trains I can only think of 3 other women I’ve seen who had bikes with them.

my bike, taking a well-deserved break


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A Christopher Thompson protege?

Seriously, I can only hope this guy has not bred. From

“The SUV turns into Santos and almost hits him,” Sheffer said. “About a block later, the driver stopped so suddenly that Santos had to veer into oncoming traffic. As he went around the SUV he slapped the vehicle to let the driver know he was there. The driver put the vehicle in reverse and attempted to hit Santos.”

He actually backed up and tried to hit Santos. The mind reels. Turns out, Santos is a cop, and was riding his bike to work. OOPS. Massive FAIL here for Mr. Fornshell.

Posted in bicycling, bike commuting, biking safety, Portland, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Spay Day 2/22/2011

UPDATE: 2/22/2011 — I just received this message from Cheryl, who says (and I quote) “Humane Society for Southwest Washington is a member of ASAP and is also performing low-cost surgeries.  360-693-4746”

Thanks, Cheryl!

I’m lifting this text in toto from the Oregon Humane Society‘s Web site, but somehow I don’t think they’ll mind too much. (and if they do I’m sure I’ll hear about it and this post will go away)

2011: A Spay Odyssey
500 Cats Fixed In One Week, One Lucky “Cat” will win $500

For Spay Day, ASAP and the Oregon Humane Society boldly sets out to perform 500 surgeries in one week.

In honor of Spay Day USA, and to prevent unwanted litters of kittens from being born this spring, the Animal Shelter Alliance of Portland (ASAP) is offering an additional 500 low cost ($10) spay/neuter surgeries the week of February 21st in five locations around the Portland/Vancouver metro area.

The Oregon Humane Society has committed to doing a record-breaking 222 of these surgeries on Spay Day, Feb. 22. To encourage participation, all cats coming through program during the week of Spay Day are eligible to be entered in a prize drawing for a $500 Fred Meyer gift card.

Spay Day USA is an annual observance on the last Tuesday of February that was created by the Doris Day Animal League in 1995 to bring attention to the nationwide pet overpopulation problem. Caretakers of stray or feral cats can take advantage of this offer as well.

Qualified cat owners can have their unsterilized cats or kittens spayed or neutered for only $10. Surgeries are performed by licensed veterinarians and subsidized through charitable donations.

How to Qualify: For a cat owner to qualify, they must receive government assistance (such as Medicaid, WIC, food stamps, SSI, Section 8 public housing, AFDC, or TANF) and live in Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, or Clark County. Those feeding unowned feral/stray cats need not meet income requirements.

Where: Services are being provided at the Oregon Humane Society by licensed veterinarians and caring surgical teams. Transportation may be available for those unable to take advantage of this offer due to travel issues.

How: Call: 503-802-6755 for a cat you own; or 503-797-2606 for feral cats to schedule an appointment for $10.

Low cost surgeries are being offered through the Animal Shelter Alliance of Portland’s Spay & Save program thanks to generous donations. This vital program is funded through private donations as well as grant monies. Special thanks to PetSmart Charities for their grant support. See for details on qualifying, addresses of surgery locations and more.

Posted in Activism, Portland, suburban living | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Icelandic Horses in Zillah, WA need help

If you, or anyone you know, can save a horse please get in touch with these people. From Mary Robinette Kowal:

The ages range from 2 – 14 and are based off size, body size and tail length. They are halter broken and normally friendly but in the feedlot they seem pretty timid. Most have had their feet trimmed.The lastest word is there are still 32 on the lot that have until Friday when they go to slaughter. They are priced by the pound–$375, $475 and $575.

If you know of anyone who would like to save one or more of these Icelandics, they can call Pam at 509-952-3866.

Please spread the word.

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Why do they hide the bike rack?

I needed to go to the library today to pick up this month’s book for my book group (we’re reading The Shipping News by Annie Proulx, my pick) and so decided to take the bike instead of the car. I decided to go to the main library instead of the one near my house as it’s larger and I figured I had a better chance of getting the book there. It’s amazing that even after all the riding I’ve done I still get nervous before heading out on the bike. This ride involved having to cross traffic from the bike lane to get into a left-turn lane, which I’ve done even in rush-hour traffic but for some reason this intersection scared me more. It went fine, I got across the lane and ended up at the first position, as if there was a bike box in front (which of course there’s not out here in the ‘burbs), light changed, and away we all went.

I did get up onto the sidewalk for the last bit of the ride. The road that the library is on is a divided highway essentially, two lanes each way, and almost no shoulder of any kind. Needless to say, no room for a bike lane and at the speed people drive on that road, I thought that lovely wide empty sidewalk looked very inviting. So I arrived at the library, and was dismayed and surprised not to see any sort of bike rack. This puzzled me exceedingly, I thought sure they would have thought to include one at this new facility (the building has been there for a long time, but was vacant for many years until the library took it over a few short years ago). I ended up locking up to a metal memorial bench outside the front entrance.

Then, I was disappointed that they did not have a copy of the book. :::frown::: I checked the computer system, and lo and behold, there was a copy of it — at the library branch that’s like two blocks from my house. I’m such a dork. But, it was such a pretty fall day that I really wanted to go for the ride anyway, and I picked up a couple of movies that I’ve wanted to see: Dancing at Lughnasa and Dracula: The Satanic Rites. Yeah, I know, but I’m immersed in vamps these days while writing my vampire novel, and I just love Christopher Lee so I had to get it.

So after I got my movies checked out, I asked the guy at the counter about a bike rack. His response was something along the line of “I think it’s down the other end of the parking lot, towards the back.” Swell. After I went back out and got my bike, I walked to the far end of the building and sure enough, towards the back is a bike rack. Well, as I said, this place was built long before the library took it over so they probably didn’t have much choice about where to place it. At least there is one. I rode back home, and had only one near miss almost getting right-hooked on another busy street, but both the driver and I stopped and he let me go.  I did manage to get the back of my leg with the sprocket thereby giving myself a grease tattoo and cutting myself, though, when I stopped so abruptly.

Round trip it was about nine miles. Not much, but I’ve done so little riding this year, anything is better than nothing.  And now I know where the bike rack is!

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Road-Raging Driver Hits Two Cyclists in Portland

A 2010 Subaru Impreza WRX sedan in San Francis...

Image via Wikipedia

And he’s still out there. Or she. Although from the description of the car I’d be willing to bet real money it was a male driver as this model is very popular with young males. (note: the photo is a stock photo from Wikipedia, not the assailant’s vehicle). The person who hit two cyclists this morning, apparently intentionally from the way it sounds, was driving a silver Subaru WRX, and left a fog light behind after hitting the second victim, who ended up on his hood. From KPTV:

“He was right on my tail and he was revving his engine. I turned back to look at him and he was (trying) to get past me,” Lieber said. “At that point in time he just raced by me, clipped the front of my bike and caused me to turn over and go down.”Witnesses on the scene say a silver Subaru WRX sent Lieber sprawling onto the pavement and drove off.

As the driver sped off, he rounded a corner and hit the second victim. Luckily, both survived with minor injuries. As Lieber observed, most Portland drivers are perfectly patient, safe and courteous towards cyclists, we are extremely lucky in that regard. If anyone knows anything about who the driver was in these incidents, you know what to do.

UPDATE 9/23/2010: Further info found at The Oregonian, confirming the driver was male, and sounding a little crazed:

After hitting Lieber, the driver of the silver Subaru sped off on Northeast First Avenue, police said. He reportedly raced around the Oregon Convention Center and blew through a red light at Multnomah Street just east of the Interstate 5 overpass near the Rose Garden.

When the driver realized he had hit a dead end near the Rose Garden, “he whipped around and came back,” said witness Wendy Unverricht of Portland. “He was flying when he hit the woman on the bike. He hit her hard.”

I don’t know why some of the commenters on the various news sites think this is acceptable behavior. There is no indication either of these two were ‘hogging the road’ or doing anything wrong.

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Who knew these things were still popular? Apparently they are, all over the place, and this latest convention of The Wheelmen took place in my old stomping grounds, Long Branch, NJ. See? There’s more to New Jersey than the Sopranos, and that awful Jersey Shore show, or Real Housewives. I couldn’t get the video to embed here (Adobe Flash involved) but you can read more and see it here. I love me some bikes, but this would make me nervous: no gears, no brakes(!), and how do they get up on the thing to start with? It boggles my mind they did a century riding these things. My great-uncle Stephen used to do centuries on his old steel bike back in the 1920s and 1930s, but I don’t know if he ever rode one of these things. Be fun to try, though!

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Another week, another ride

I hate going a whole week between rides, but this past week was so hot I could not bring myself to get out there. Finally the heat broke on Saturday, and with a pleasantly warm morning, I rode my bike over to the Post Office to pick up a parcel. It’s a short ride, maybe 3 miles round-trip, so I couldn’t be bothered firing up the car for something like that. To no one’s surprise, there are no bike racks outside the Post Office (this is a separate annex where they keep packages requiring signature if you’re not home when they try to deliver). So I did what any self-respecting bicycle lover would do: took it inside the building with me. Yep, I did. No big deal really, it’s just an ugly lobby where you ring the bell and someone comes out of the back to get your stuff. A young family with children in a stroller came in as I was there, and I did get kind of a strange look from the woman. :::shrug:::

Anyway, the weather was so fabulous I decided I really did need to go out for a real ride, so I went home, dropped off the panier and excess stuff, changed and went back out. This time I took a slightly longer route, but opposite of the direction I rode last week. The result was it took me almost exactly one hour. Hmm. Not sure if the change of direction made that much of a difference from last week, when it took me an hour and 15 minutes, or wind at my back or what. Maybe the muscles are quicker at remembering than I gave them credit for. It was a great ride, with a couple of stops for water (still a little klutzy about getting the bottle back in the holder while riding, I dropped it once and had to turn around and go back for it). I also wasn’t nearly as wiped out when I got home. Good to know I’m not quite dead yet.

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At last

I guess the start of the Tour de France was finally enough inspiration for me to get off my arse and get on the bike. I haven’t been out riding in months, due to a really wet, cold spring up here, followed by a horrendous allergy season. But, with the start of the only sporting event I actually pay attention to I finally felt the need to get back out there myself and put some more miles on the bike.

It was a good day for a ride, not too cool, not too warm, but there was a little more wind than I was anticipating. I have lost a lot of strength and speed from not riding for so long. The course I took today is normally a 55-minute ride for me, but today it took an hour and fifteen minutes. Wow, that’s slow. I admit I didn’t push it too hard, thought I’d give my muscles a chance to remember what was happening. I got out early enough to beat most of the Saturday/holiday recreational traffic, and late enough to miss most of the fishermen who get on the road at the crack of dawn to try to surprise the fish.

People around here are mostly pretty courteous and considerate of cyclists, or at least they are towards me. I do make sure to wave a thank you when they wait before turning to let me go by first. Hopefully it’s helping to improve motorist/cyclist relations.

If only I’d remembered some money and my panniers, I had wanted to stop at a berry farm and get some fresh strawberries or something. Maybe if they’re open next week, and I can actually sit on the saddle again…

Looks like Fabian Cancellara won the prologue today in Rotterdam. I am without cable so I’ll be relying on various Web sites for news of le Tour. Lance finished 4th.

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