25 February 2012

NAHBS Preview -- Oregon Frame Constructors

I stopped by the reception Friday evening in Portland before dinner to check out 11 of the bikes that will be exhibited at NAHBS by Oregon-based framebuilders.

Some impressions:

1.  I recognized a number of the bikes from the Oregon Manifest, Constructor's Design Challenge video last fall, including the winner of that competition.  Lots of cargo/utility bikes, with big fixed front racks (and appropriate rake/steering for a load off the front of the handlebars).

2.  Lots of dynamo hubs!  Mostly Schmidt & Sons but also Shimano Alfine.  (None of the DH-3N80 that I have ... but the Alfine with its metallic case is a much better aesthetic fit for these bikes).  Mostly Supernova E3 lights, and a few Schmidt Edelux as well.  I guess the Oregon builders think these things are as cool as I do.

3.  Lots of internal gear hubs, one 14-speed version called "Speedhub" that I remember.

4.  Pereira's bike that won the Constructor's Design Challenge has an interesting looking BionX electric drive -- it works with a pedal stress gauge (like a power meter) and adds power as the rider tries to accelerate.  Pretty cool.

5.  Some of these bikes are "over the top".  Ahearne's bike seemed to me the "Hummer of bicycles".  More cupholders (well, bottle holders) and racks than an American minivan, and super fat tires -- looks like a snow or sand bike!  The Vendetta Cycles bike was likewise HOT red.

All in all, a very nice event.  Some photos are here.  I will try to add some commentary later on the photos album.

It is Done

I've handed it over to a local powder coating place ... hope they do a decent job, since they are not one of the UBI recommended places and probably do as many boat trailers as bicycles.  (Spectrum Powder Works, in Colorado, is the leading provider.)  Chainstays and lower seatstays will be "midnight blue" and rest of frame will be a light greyish metallic blue "sparkling blue" ....  I got some poor photos of the paint colors when I was in the shop, under weak, flourescent light, gives the general idea.
Sparking blue.
Midnight blue.

24 February 2012

Blue Skies and Sunsets

Cyclists on the entrance to the Steel Bridge crossing and East Side (Vera Katz) Esplanade
Today the Portland weather forecast was for partly sunny/cloudy weather.  When I opened the door to get the newspaper, it looked dry.  An hour later, I still got soaked by a sudden rain shower as I rode my rental bike to UBI.  But after that brief shower, it was all sun and blue skies.

Today, I learned that for me just about everything else about building a bike frame is easier than TIG welding.  Brazing is a lot easier.  It is also a lot dirtier.  Soot from the acetylene, acid-based flux that gets on your hands (and into the cuts and nicks we all have at this point).

Today, I prepped and brazed on my seat stay bridge, my rear cantilever brake posts, rear rack bosses, water bottle bosses, cable stays on the top tube for my rear brake, cable stay on my drive-side chain stay for the rear derailleur, and stays/adjusters on the down tube for both derailleur cables.  Plus two more bridges -- one for the rear cantilever brake cable, and one on the seat stays that has a boss for attaching a fender.  Plus drilling holes for the water bottle and other bosses, vent holes, etc., then checking frame alignment and width of drop-outs, and finishing work on the seat and head tubes and bottom bracket.  We "chased" the threads on the bottom bracket and smoothed both faces, also cut and smoothed both faces of the head tube,"reamed" the seat tube so it will actually fit a 27.2mm seat post, and punched a hole in the back of the seat tube about 20-25mm below the top.

I was done with everything except for the finishing work on the tubes by early afternoon, and emerged from our classroom/shop to find a beautiful day.

The only thing left for tomorrow is to cut a slot from the top of the seat tube to the aforementioned hole, and then sand off some of the excess silver that is brazed to the frame and do some clean up.

I am really happy with the result.  Cannot wait to get it painted (I hope while I am still here in the U.S.) and then to build it up, after my return to Japan.

Suggestions for paint schemes (2 colors max) are welcome, in the next 16 hours.

Suggestions for names are also welcome.  Maybe Portlandia?
In Portland, a stationary bicycle is a "plug out" instead of a "plug in" piece of equipment.  This building (eco FLATS; Hopworks Bikebar) has solar on the roof, so it must have "net metering" and be able to sell back to the grid.   

23 February 2012

Progress in PDX, Beervana, the City of Roses, Stumptown and/or Rip City (pick your favorite Portland nickname)

I had another wet commute to UBI up North Williams this morning.  It is really great to be commuting on a bike path and then with wide, safe bike lanes (and special bike signals at a few intersections) every morning.  I was surprised to see that there are plans to make the North Williams bike lanes EVEN BETTER than they are now, because of perceived "bike-bus conflict" at some points.
An example of the "bike-bus conflict" on North Williams, as bus stops require crossing the bike lane.
I've experienced the "bike-bus conflict" and it is nothing like what I come up against daily in Tokyo.  But I guess it is enough to scare some inexperienced, more cautious, slower or older riders.  Portland does a great job of making bicycle commuting feel safe enough that even people who don't normally ride in the streets and who are worried about traffic will come out.  This is crucial if the city is to meet its goal of having 25% of trips in the city by bicycle in the year 2030.  Portland's 2011 bicycle count statistics were released yesterday, and year-round (including the ugly weather months), 15% of all daily travel across four major bridges was by bicycle. And apparently this number would have been even higher but for construction on one of the bridges.  Imagine what it must be like in the summer when the weather is spectacular.  80% cyclists out on the road in Portland wear helmets, and over 31% are women.

As for my frame and framebuilding class, the main welding is done ... with a lot of help on the stays from the instructors (the seat stays in particular are way beyond my competence at this point).  Tomorrow we do the braise-ons -- the seat stay bridge, cantilever brake bases, cable stops, water bottle and rack bosses.
A wheel goes in as part of checking alignment after welding the chain stays this morning, before adding the seat stays.  Everything is straight.
The seat stays were tacked and ready to weld by early afternoon.
Meanwhile, the North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) is coming up next week, and there will be eighteen (18) members of the Oregon Bicycle Constructors Association exhibiting there, according to an article in Bike Portland.  As Dominic (aka Dave) pointed out to me a few days ago, there will be a "show me yours" pre-show event in Portland on Friday evening downtown, so I may be able to see some of the NAHBS bikes without going to Sacramento ... as a few of the students in my class apparently plan to do.

Tuesday night I took my mom to dinner at an excellent vegan restaurant in her neighborhood (Portobello).  It has been open for 4 years, but she had never made it there before. All the waitresses had tattoos (quite nice ones, to the extent they were visible) and piercings and were charming.  The beet tartare was delicious.  (That's right, beet, not beef).  The restaurant was in a little row of shops that included the micro brew pub, tattoo parlor, vegan restaurant and coffee house that I have come to recognize as a kind of standard combination in this city.  Sometimes there is also a bike shop.  This time there was a hair salon instead.
Citybikes' repair shop, a coop (employee owned) shop on Ankeny Street in near-in Southeast Portland, on a major (bicycle) commuter route.  About 2 blocks away is Universal Cycles, which opens 6AM weekdays, and offers free coffee for (bicycle) commuters.  Head a bit south to River City Bicycles.  There are lots of other shops nearby.
Today for lunch I went to the Che Cafe, a food cart across from UBI, and had some very good mac cheese with chicken.  I think this was the first time it has opened up since I started to frequent the 3900 block of North Williams last week.  Maybe it was open because of the nice, warmer and partly sunny midday weather.  I still needed to slip on my rain pants for the start of the ride home today.

22 February 2012

It is starting to look like a bicycle!

Front triangle -- welded.
Chain stays -- tacked to dropouts and ready for welding.
Seat stays -- selected.

Mike Desalvo at the horizontal mill, about to miter a seat stay at the drop-out end.  First he needs to check that the S-bend is straight up/down.  Chad (left) and Kurt (right) watch.

Tomorrow, I work on the chain then the seat stays (much harder welding than the main triangle, so I expect I will need to ask for help).  And we learn about the seat stay bridge, braise-ons and the like.  Three more days to go!

20 February 2012


Thanks David for the kind words and the introduction of my new German "There is no "I" in cycling" blog. The idea of the name goes back to a facebook entry I have seen (and liked) recently where X stated "There is no I in happyness" and Y replied "Well, there would be if you spelled it right." I liked the intellectual concept behind that idea and scrupulously copied that for my own blog. Someday perhaps there will be a domain called cyclyng.com. But not now.

I opted for wordpress instead of Google's blogger as platform. It will take some time until I find my way around.

I will try to do in German what I have done from 2007 to 2011 on the Positivo Espresso blog. That is, connecting the dots between riding, writing and friends. My interests have slightly changed as not only riding but also mechanics has become a major topic of blogging. Opening my garage I own now four winter bikes and one for the summer. And looking out of the window from my office I see sunshine today but yesterday I had seen hail and snow. The season to ride is just too short in Bremen and besides that there are no mountains to do serious riding. In consequence some of the long winter evenings are spend restoring old steel bikes.

Please feel free to drop in and to stay in contact.
Best wishes from sunny Bremen.

ANNOUNCING MOB's New Blog - there is no "I" in Cyclyng

It is now almost 2 years since Positivo Espresso Founder, Directeur Sportif, Rad-Führer and Chairman Emeritus MOB left Tokyo to return to his homeland of Germany to take an academic position in Bremen, located in that country's far northern flatlands.  He and his family are now well settled in their new home.

And as you can see from his posts, MOB has had some time to explore the local cycling scene and culture, a culture which does not include any hill climb races, but does seem to involve spending long cold winters lusting over new-old-stock (NOS) road cycling components (Shimano Golden Arrow!) which can be used to build up vintage frames into beautiful machines.  MOB naturally wants to blog in German for his new community.

And so we announce the launch of his new blog: "there is no "I" in cyclyng", or just "cyclyng", which can be found at cyclitis.wordpress.com.

As you can see, he has ported over historical content that he contributed to P.E., so you can now access this content in either location.

And you can also find lots of newer Germany language content -- with much, much more to come.  For those of us who don't read German, if you use the Google Chrome web browser, then a plausible English translation is always just one click away.

As for Positivo Espresso, we need new members, more posts, and more members.  It is far too much becoming David L's blog, and that was never the intent.  Volunteers are welcome.

19 February 2012

E.J.'s Trials

On Monday in my first framebuilding session, we went around the room for introductions -- each person saying where he was from, any relevant bike building or metalworking experience (none in my case), and what type of bike he was going to build ("he" in this case since there are no women in the class, in contrast to the mechanic's class being taught across the alley in another room).  One student, E.J. Jensen, said he rides "trials" and wanted to build a sturdy 29er trials bike, since he keeps breaking them.

I had no idea what he was talking about, or why he would be breaking bikes (was "trials" shorthand for "time trials" ... which don't seem likely to cause many frames to break?).  I asked him a few days later.  He said "trials" involves getting points for how you maneuver an obstacle course over a set time (2 minutes), and is sometimes called "parcours for bicycles".  He could have just said "what Danny MacAskill does" since I think most of us (well, at least 29 million) have seen this video and the ones that followed.  In any event, E.J. gets my respect.  Here are two videos of his riding, one of which also picks up on Occupy Portland, from a few months back.

18 February 2012

On Failing Street

View from the Peruvian Restaurant next to UBI (Thursday I had their vegan Portobello mushroom and pesto sandwich -- very tasty). 

Bike Parking in the Hub Building, next to the restrooms.  A nice option on a rainy day.

North Williams -- Lodekka dress shop ... in a double decker bus (and old camper trailer on the far side of the bus).
Thursday was a tough day for me at bike school.  I came down with a cold on Wednesday, and on Thursday I was so sick that I really did not want to get out of bed.  But I did, and went to class (I figured that both instructors and one student already had a cold, so what more risk of contagion if I'm there?).

My head was in a fog as I tried to concentrate on the various presentations and to practice my welding, keeping in mind the many parameters and trying to hold my hands steady, when I really wanted to go lie down. In any event, on Thursday I did not get much done, my concentration flagged, and my welding seemed to get worse, if anything.  everything else -- the drawing/measuring, the tube preparation, the cutting, seems easy in comparison, with the guidance we are getting.

Mike DeSalvo is leading our class for Thurs/Fri and again next Mon/Tues.  At the end of the Thursday class in his wrap up presentation, Mike mentioned that the instructors will help us as much as we want ... they will fill holes we melt into our frames if needed.  They will help with mitering the tubes.  Many students want to do 100% of the work by themselves, especially those who are planning to enter the framebuilding profession.  Others (like me) have no such plans, but really want to go home with a bicycle frame at the end of week 2, and don't care if someone else helps a bit to miter the top tube, weld a tricky spot or fill a hole.  Mike has his own framebuilding business out of Ashland, Oregon, where UBI's "main campus" is located.

As I headed out to find lunch, I decided to stroll the length of the Hub Building's internal hallway.  At the far end, I came upon a jammed restaurant, with people waiting in a line outside the door.  It was Tasty n Sons.  Lots of fried food, meat, thick slices of fatty bacon, eggs, and other comfort food at upscale prices and with positive reviews.  Nothing exotic or vegan here ... but this seems to be where most of people want to eat on a cold, rainy February day.

Again, I saw only iMacs at Ristretto Roasters, where I picked up coffee.  I moved on to Cha Cha Cha for another Burrito Fundido.  Mike DeSalvo was there, so I sat down and joined him.  He mentioned that in recent years a significant number of his custom frames actually end up going to Japan, via a bike shop in Nagoya named Circles.  I noticed on Mike's website that he has won "Best TIG Welded Frame" prize at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show in 2005, 2008 and again in 2010.  Impressive.  This is what his welds look like, on the bike he is building that Ron started (for Ron's 15 year old son):

My practice welds ... look slightly different.

At least my results finally started to improve again on Friday afternoon ... so there is hope.

Friday morning, as I rode my rental bike to UBI in the rain, I passed N. Failing Street.  Would I fail at framebuilding?  Was I failing already, as others already started to cut their tubes, put their front triangle into the frame jig, and to pass the "bottom bracket/seat tube destruct test"?  (My Thursday handiwork did not pass this test, so I went back to practice more)?  Who would name a street "Failing"?  Who would want to live or have a business there?
This "jig" or "fixture" holds the tubes in place while you "tack" them with small initial welds.
You then remove the stabilized frame and complete the welding at your work station.
On Wednesday I had ridden home with Bob K., our second chair instructor, who lives out on the edge of SE Portland and so takes the Vera Katz Esplanade along the East Side of the Willamette River, as do I.  This morning, Bob came up behind me as I waited at a traffic light.  I mentioned that I had seen Mike's website and that I saw his TIG welded frames had won prizes at NAHBS.  Bob's rejoinder "I've got some of those too."  He quickly clarified:  Bilenky Cycles won the awards  ... for bikes that Bob had largely built when he worked there (as the "master framebuilder").

In any event, Friday I was feeling better, and the session went better.  By end of the day I had done my best practice welds yet, and my front triangle was cut and ready to start assembly on Monday.  On the evening commute, there were stiff headwinds, pelting rain and dark, low clouds over downtown.  But at least the fog had cleared from my head.
Add BB shell, and this will be my cross bike's front triangle!

16 February 2012

Portland Culture, North Version

Practice welds, still ugly,
but strong
I've now completed 3 out of 10 days of framebuilding class.  Today was really fun.  The welding is still hard, but at least it now produces something that is welded, even if it is still ugly.  I feel like I am slowly getting the hang of it, as are the others in the class.  And I am learning a lot about bicycle design, materials, geometry, craft, etc., etc.

And today we made our pre-production diagrams of the frames we will build starting on Friday.  Mine will be a relatively traditional cyclo-cross frame, a level top tube, cantilever brakes and lots of tire clearance.  With this bike, I want to go up Odarumi Pass in Yamanashi, wave at the taxi drivers at the top, and keep on going onto the gravel descent into Nagano.

Not that easy to see, but there is an outline of a bicycle frame, plus rim/tire circumference,
fork rake, and other measurements
UBI's Portland campus is located at 3961 N. Williams Avenue.  When I was growing up in Portland long ago, this part of town was definitely the wrong side of the tracks.  Now it is gentrified, or at least very different.  There are a lot more younger, white people, lots of new buildings and a different feeling.
Two of the other students and, in the middle, Bob K., one of the instructors for our class.  Bob was the master framebuilder at Bilenky Cycles in Pennsylvania before moving to Portland.  He has a nice handbuilt bike with a cargo rack, Schmidt & Sons dynamo hub that drives his E3 Supernova LED light and a rear light.
North Mississippi Avenue, a few blocks over, has a trendy, hip restaurant and entertainment/shopping area. Eric P., a former colleague, likes a diner there called Gravy.  And there are Prost Brewing, Amnesia Brewing, and more beer. Of course, the food around here tends toward organic and ethnic, vegan dishes are always available and there is plentiful bike parking.  This is the culture that is parodied in the TV series "Portlandia".  It is a culture that did not exist when I left Portland in 1980 for college.

Bike parking at one end of the Hub Building
The immediate area around UBI on North Williams is similar.  Today I went one block down the street to get lunch, at Cha, Cha, Cha, a Mexican place located  in the Hub Building.  I sure wish I could get a Burrito Fundido like that in Tokyo!  Then I stopped for a 16 oz coffee at Ristretto Roasters ("RR") next door.  When I entered RR on Monday mid-morning, I was surprised to find the place packed with 20~25 people, all ones or twos.  All of them were white people between the ages of 25 and 40.  Most of them had laptops open.  Every laptop was an Apple Macbook.  They might as well put up a "Mac only, no Windows allowed" sign.  I cannot take my (Windows) laptop there.  The barrista and cashier could have traded places with any of the customers.  Culture shock.

Also in the Hub Building, there are several other restaurants, Ink & Peat (where you can get "organic bedding" and "blooming branches", whatever those are, for your garden), and a fancy yoga studio.  But the high point was a little shop in the middle of the building that Chad, one of the other students, mentioned to me. Sugar Wheelworks!  A really cool looking bicycle wheel building shop founded and run by a woman.  I almost went in and ordered a pair on the spot ....  From the shop's website FAQ page, what are the main reasons to order handmade wheels?  They are sustainable, and soulful.  I could not agree more.
The courtyard outside Sugar Wheelworks
Sweet Wheels. Nice looking shop!
To get back to class, I needed to walk by at least 5 restaurants, a couple of pubs, a patisserie, the obligatory tattoo shop, the Blue Sky Wellness Studio (acupunture, massage, etc.), an all natural clothing supplier (sewing machines visible in the window), an "Eco" apartment building (solar PV visible on the rooftop), and some other places of note.  I did not get to the Friendly Bike Guest House, on the next block up.
More microbrew.
Beer and bikes, together.  What a great idea!!!
The obligatory tattoo shop.  The 4 youngest (of 7) students in the frame building class have some major visible tattoos.

Not just apartments, eco FLATS

Natural fabrics only.
Ethnic Food -- Is Peruvian exotic enough?
I guess with all the bike racks out front, and the streams of cyclists heading up Williams on their way home from downtown as I am leaving class (and heading in the opposite direction down the next street, for my  "reverse commute" past downtown), some of these restaurants and shops might just make it.

14 February 2012

Molten Metal

Today, I passed through the doors of the UBI and started the TIG-welded frame building course.  Our teacher the first week is Ron Sutphin, with Bob Kamzelski assisting.

The framebuilding room during our lunch break.  Drafting tables up front, work stations, milling machines, lathes, pressurized argon and oxygen canisters, tungsten sharpening wheel and more.

Work station #1 - my new home
When we got through some of the explanation and to the machines, we first practiced welding on a sample triangle of tubes without filler rod, just to work on getting a nice "pool" of melted metal in an even line.  Ron had warned us that one of the big challenges is just seeing what you are doing through the dark face plate of the welding mask.  He was right.

Then we practiced working with filler rod to add to the surface of the tubes, as we will need to do in order to actually weld tubes together.  Seemed to work okay, though it took awhile to figure out how to work with different gauges of rod.

Then we tried the "pulsar" function of these Miller Maxstar 200 DX machines.  This function works so that, for example, you can weld using a setting of maximum 150 amps on 1~2 cycles per second, with full output on for 30% of each cycle, and the remaining 70% of the cycle at only 10% of max output.  There is plenty of flexibility on all these parameters by adjusting the settings on the machine, plus the foot pedal controls the power output like an accelerator on a car.  Once you know what you are doing, this allows you to weld with much less "heat effect" damage to the metal tube.  I was too tentative with the foot pedal and ended up not creating a real "puddle" of melted metal on the tube with the pulsar feature on, even after turning up the maximum amps from 100 to 150.  For the most part, I was just melting little balls of filler rod along the surface of the metal. I finally got one or two beginner welds.

Then for the last hour of class we had our first chance to actually weld two small sections of tube together -- one section end mitered so that it would fit onto the other in the same way that a downtube attaches to a headtube.  We had almost an hour to

--do the final prep on the mitered tube with our collection of various metal files and emery board so that the tubes would fit without a gap and remove any "burrs",
--clean the tubes with a bit of rubbing alcohol,
--set them in a small jig/holder,
--"tack" them in four places so they would stay together outside of the jig, and then
-- weld them.

I got through the first few steps, but had real trouble with the "tacking" -- again I was not getting the metal hot enough to create a real "pool" for the filler rod, with the electrode too far off the metal.  I was too tentative because I was trying not to melt the mitered edge first, as it is thinner and also cannot dissipate heat as well as the other tube.  Then I would touch my tungsten electrode to the tube (which usually attaches a "glob" of metal to the electrode, requires a quick switch, and then that tungsten will need to be shortened a bit and resharpened).  So I turned off the "pulsar" function to get more steady heat and try to recreate my successes of earlier in the day ... and promptly melted a hole in the tube.  It happens.  Must have been an imperfection in the metal (... or, more likely, operator error).   In any event, with some help from Bob K. I was able to get the pieces "tacked" well enough so I could take them out of the jig and start to practice welding them.

It was ugly, really ugly.  Can I actually do this?  I felt like I was starting to make a bit of progress ... just when the class came to an end.

Tomorrow we should get much more time to practice than we had today.  I need it.  I can't wait.

13 February 2012

Worst Day of the Year Ride?

The second Sunday in February is a pretty "blah" time of year in many places.  In Portland, Oregon, it is the day of the annual "Worst Day of the Year Ride", commemorating the anniversary of the coldest temperature ever recorded in the state (-54 degrees fahrenheit, in Ukiah in 1933) and the Great Flood of 1996, when the Willamette River rose over 10 feet (3 meters) following a record 28 inches (70cm) of rain over a few days in the nearby hills.

On this day, 4000 cyclists get their bikes out of the basement, don costumes, and ride out, usually into nasty, wet and dark weather, all for a good cause, and with frequent rest stops that include coffee, cocoa, cookies, bagels, even soup.

I did not participate, but I saw streams of riders at various places in town as I took my own separate Sunday morning spin.  It seems that the Worst Day of the Year Ride is a chance for riders to laugh at the miserable wet winter conditions, and raise their voices to the heavens and dare God to "bring it on".  This year, Heaven blinked.  And the pavement stayed dry all day.  Not the worst day of the year.
Not many costumes in this stream of riders, just a few funny hats.  I did see some more impressive efforts before I thought to pull out my camera.
I took a ride this morning out to North Clackamas County, where there is a pool I may try to use a few times while I am in town, then over to United Bicycle Institute on the opposite side of town, where my class will be over the next 2 weeks.  A little over 40km, almost all on bike lanes or bike paths -- enough to stretch my legs before an afternoon of shopping and social obligations.
P.E. Approved Rest Stop, though in Japan you don't see any GMC Denali SUVs in the parking lot.
The blue metal bar is a bike rack -- they are everywhere in Portland, even here, in front of a bar that caters to truckers and workers in the Freightliner truck factory just down the hill. 
Of course, in some U.S. cities where the challenge of early February is more cold than wet, they have come up with some different charitable traditions for this day.
Not the worst day of the year.  Blue sky!

12 February 2012


This App allows one to quickly make a "virtual" tour of the major (and not so major) passes in the Alps (and some other mountains as well -- Pyrenees at least).  I wish I had had this in 2009 before riding Transalp the first time.  I will use it before the P.E. Tour des Pyrenees this summer.  It works great, at least on the Google Chrome browser.

Come to think of it, maybe Andy Schleck could have used a "virtual tour" of the Grenoble TT course last summer?  Maybe if he had "ridden" the course, he might not have dropped quite so much time to Cadel?

Portland Saturday Ride

I arrived in Portland on Thursday.

On a rainy Friday, my Dad and I went to a luncheon presentation at the City Club Friday Forum entitled "Portland in 2062: A Sustainable City in a Sustainable World ... or not".  Then I picked up my rental bike (Masi aluminum frame, Shimano 105 drivetrain, etc.).

Saturday morning, I made it out for a really nice social group ride, thanks to an introduction via Ed G.
... early Saturday morning in Portland.  I cross the Steel Bridge on the bike/walking path.  This and several other bridges offer great bicycle crossings, and there are nice paths along much of both sides of the river ... plus bike lanes on many, many roads.  The panorama stitch did not manage to smooth out the exposures ...
I did not record the mileage, but it was probably 5 miles to the meeting point at Wallace Park, another 4~5 home, and maybe 30 miles with the group.  We went first up and down both sides of the river, as far South as the Sellwood Bridge, then stopped for coffee and pastries at the Grand Central Baking Company near our start in NW Portland, then another segment through the hills west of downtown -- up Fairview, then Skyline Drive and back on Fairmount and Skyline, among many other roads.  A relaxed social pace and nice company.  I'll try to go back again next Saturday.
As some of our group remount after coffee.  My rental Masi is in the foreground.  Not as stiff or responsive as my Canyon, but it will do.
At coffee, there was much talk about how Cycle Oregon (a week-long ride in its 25th year, that follows a different route each time and introduces different rural parts of the state, as well as sponsoring various philanthropic activities and other shorter rides) sold out its 2200 spots for $895 each in 31 minutes last week.

In Portland, the results of 20 years of active cycling advocacy can be seen everywhere you go ... by bike.

07 February 2012

Andy Schleck To Win 2010 Tour De France

Probably not the way he wanted to win the Tour.

In case you have not checked any sports news or cycling blogs in the past 24 hours, here is the news.  Here too.  And here.  And a link to the actual CAS decision banning/stripping Contador.

The panel did NOT credit the presence of "plasticizers" in Contador's blood as proof of blood doping, but also agreed with UCI and WADA that Contador's clenbuterol defense of tainted meat lacked factual basis.   Banned substance FOUND; explanation REJECTED.  End of story.

Reading the decision's summary of the WADA submission, it seems that WADA have a plausible theory of what happened (most likely he was blood doping and some of his stored blood had the clenbuterol in it).  Hard to know when it is a battle of the experts.  Contador has ridden for Liberty Seguros, Discovery and Astana ... he was implicated tangentially in some of the other doping scandals ... so he does not get the benefit of the doubt from me.  Nor from the UCI, WADA or CAS, it would seem.

Many of the headlines suggest this is "another blow" for cycling, a "dark day" etc.  I guess I feel just the opposite.  The sport is finally getting cleaned up -- as evidenced by the slower climbing speeds in the TdF last summer, as compared with the recent past when cyclists such as Pantani, Virenque, Armstrong, Landis, Hamilton, Rasmussen and Vinokourov dominated on the hills.

Yabitsu in the Snow

On the Yabitsu climb, 18 km to go to Rte 246.  We could find dry road surface most of the way without problems.  On the lower stretches wet surfaces were not icy, as it was the warmest hour of the day, between 12:30 and 1:30PM.  Once we passed 500m elevation we needed to be careful to avoid icy spots.
Remarkably, Jerome and I almost exactly followed our plan on Sunday, a rare lack of creativity and spontaneity for a Positivo Espresso event.

We did preserve two other P.E. traditions, at least.  First, we started almost 30 minutes later than planned, as Jerome had a very tough schedule of work-related and recreational drinking and dancing last week, so was a bit delayed getting to my house.  This is why I like to start rides at my house instead of down along the river -- I can tinker with my bike, head back inside and get some coffee or read the newspaper if someone is running a bit late.
Looking back up to Yabitsu from the donut factory.  Not much snow in the South-facing slopes.
Second, we stopped at the "donut factory" on the descent down the South side of Yabitsu.  The sign said "closed" (閉店), but the smell of fresh donuts was wafting into the air, and I could see the arms of a woman working away behind the drawn window shade.  So we politely knocked on the window and asked "sumimasen, kyo wa DONUTS arimasen ka?" (excuse me, are there donuts today?).  She opened the window and said that YES, there were donuts and she would be happy to sell us some, though not at the "3 for 100 yen" special price.  Jerome bought 10 donuts for Chez Bouhet (only 6 of which made it all the way home, since we each had one at the point of sale and a second before boarding the train at Hon Atsugi).

Fortunately, Jerome's late nights last week meant that we could do the entire ride at a reasonable pace -- including "spinning up the hills" at Otarumi west of Takao, and again en route to Lake Miyagase and climbing the North side of Yabitsu Pass.  So we actually kept within the spirit of "long slow distance".  Instead of just wrapping up at Hadano, we went back about 10~15 km towards town along the least-bad stretch of Route 246, and also rode home from Noborito down the Tamagawa the last stretch, to stretch the ride 125 km or so.   Climbing Yabitsu (elev 761 meters) despite snowy roads -- really more than I could every reasonably hope for on the first weekend in February.