Tag Archives: cycling

Portland Autumn by bike


Week preceding Sunday, 29-Sept-2019

As you may recall, my Bike had been stolen back in May, after mother’s day.

Insurance had been difficult, as had been bike shops in general – it turns out that not only is Portland much more expensive than Boston when bikes are involved, but that sales people aren’t always the most knowledgeable… After searching through half a dozen bike shops, being told that my budget was impossibly low, and being told that my previous bike had never existed (sales people… Arg!) I gave up.

After giving myself a few weeks to cool down, I threw down.

I went to the neighborhood bike shop, and told them that I wanted a bike. I told them every specific that I wanted, then handed them my credit card and told them to go hog wild.I mean, I also got a quote, compared them to other shops in town, and discussed a lot of options. But that doesn’t make for good reading, so let’s just pretend I acted like a badass instead, and just threw down.

Anyways I got a new bike. Just in time for the Portland Rain to hit. Exactly in time, actually, and I biked home in the rain.

You know what? That’s fine, because I biked. And that’s exactly what I’ve been waiting to do!

Thankfully the rest of the week wasn’t quite as rainy, and I got to take a few after-work rides around town. It’s amazing how much different Portland is when traveling by bike… I’ve noticed so many more murals, but I’ve also just how quiet our neighborhood gets early in the evening. It’s kind of creepy – it’s as if everyone is on exactly the same schedule regarding when to eat dinner and then when to go home.

Still, though. I’m enjoying being back on two wheels, getting to poke around and take pictures of all the pretty streets and ridiculous hipster stores full of artisanally-crafted, single-sourced, small-batch, super-expensive chatchkes that are fun to poke and prod.

I’ve even been able to bike to the gym again, and bike to the local taco spot, and bike to pick up my car… I’m biking again!!

Keeping spare repair kits on your bike


This is super out of order – it’s part of my series called “cleaning up my drafts folder”

Friday, 13-Jun-14

I usually bike a pretty direct route from my house to the office.  There are three possible routes I could take, but one of them is only viable when it’s dry out (too much mud for my street bike), and the other one more than doubles the distance that I have to go… and includes a rather harrowing stint on a main road.

But this was Friday, and I was energetic, so… yeah, why not?  Let’s take a longer route.

And near the end, I ran into the reason why I always like to have extra gear with me.  I didn’t actually run into the reason… more that I saw the reason sitting on the side of the path looking glum.

I was on the minuteman trail near Cambridge when I saw the kid sitting with his brand new bike, looking a bit lost and a bit worried.  Not too much of either, but just enough that I stopped and asked if he needed a hand.

In fact, he did.  He’d blown a tire, and had no idea how to fix it.  No gear, no skills, and his phone had died while trying to call his mom to pick him up.  So here he was, 5miles from home, listening to an iPod and wondering what to do.

So, we pulled the wheel off his bike, and took my patch kit out of my bike, and got to work.

I showed him how everything worked, what things can catch you and pop the tire a second time, and a few other small tricks to keeping a bit running and moving with inflated wheels.  It took a while, and we both ended the job with a nice covering of grease, but it was worth it.

Especially since, just as soon as he was ready to ride again, his Mom showed up with her SUV so that he wouldn’t have to ride back.


Biking in the arctic


Work week – 09-Dec-13 through 13-Dec-13

Ok, I know it’s not actually the Arctic here in Cambridge.  But recently the temperatures have been making it seem like it is.

Monday started out with 18 Deg.F (-7.5 Deg.C), and I biked into work.

Tuesday was a bit warmer, though there were some nice flurries of snow going on as I rode the 6.5 miles.  No, I’m not going to translate that into Km.  Look it up yourself!

Wednesday I drove – I try to make sure that I drive at least one day a week, or more often two days, so that my car isn’t left alone too long… I don’t like the idea of it always being in the same parking spot.  People staring, starting to notice that it might not be missed for a day or so if it just… disappeared.  No stealing my car!

Thursday though.  Thursday, the temperatures in Cambridge his 15 Deg.F (-9.5 Deg.C).  Waltham (where I work) was right around the same, maybe a degree or two warmer.  I still biked.

Friday was almost the same as Thursday, though Cambridge was 18 and Waltham was 15 this time.

Thursday set a new record for me, and Friday came damn close to my previous record: a day last winter, when I had gotten a text from Marla after biking in, simply saying, “wait, did you bike?  It was 17 degrees out this morning!  Congrats!”  So now the temperature to beat is 15.  I think I can do it.


How can I bike when it’s that cold out?  Layering.

Feet: heavy smartwool socks, and hiking boots.  I’ve loosened up my bike pedals so that the heaftier boots fit into the straps.

Legs: Underarmor thermal layer, hiking pants, rain pants.

Torso: Tee-Shirt and my fancy new jacket (see previous post about still overheating)

Hands: thin insulating gloves, and heavy ski gloves on top.

Head: fleece Balaclava, with a helmet on top.  Safety goggles that I totally didn’t commandeer from work over the eyes.

And do I enjoy it?


No, I don’t enjoy it – I love it.  I love every second of it.  The freezing wind on my cheeks, that first breath of snowy air as I step out of my door…  It’s excellent, and a truly amazing way to start out the day.  Even if I stay indoors for the whole work day, I just feel accomplished when I ride in.


The other question that I get asked a lot is what kind of bike I ride in the winter.  People ask about special snow tires, mountain bikes, and unique brakes that they see on sale.

Honestly – I just ride my normal street bike.

I’ve tried a mountain bike, with the heavy knobby tires and the thick brakes, but I don’t find it to be any better except on ice, and arguably much worse in the snow.

You see, the knobs just get covered in snow when there’s powder, and they just float over the slush, hydroplaning you directly into painsville.  My thin street tires, however, cut right through the snow and slush, and have never floated on me.  Too much weight on the thin strip, I guess.

Ice is another matter, but most of the roads I take are salted – and even on ice, good balance and a steady hand usually win the day, even without studs or fat tires.

So there you have it – bike in the winter, because it’s awesome.  Layer to stay warm, and ride a street bike because I said so.