77.61 miles traveled this month by bicycle. So, I think it should be mentioned that PBM had a lot to do with the success of this month. He found a sweet bike for me, fixed it up, fixed it again, fixed it some more, and reminded me that it’s all worth it.
He has a lot more to say on this subject than I ever could. So I asked him to write about bikes. No other rules. Just write about bikes for my blog. Knowing PBM, AKA Scott Baker, I half-expected to get a stack of damp pages, poured over on a typewriter. Each letter of each word carefully thought out and put on paper with only the power of his elegant machine and his twisting fingers, fighting to put the thoughts to paper as fast as they come. Thankfully, he knew I would have to re-type whatever he gave me, so he was kind enough to email it to me.
I think it should be mentioned that in addition to saving young women from the perils of bikelessness, he also makes pretty amazing music under the name Simple Heart. If nothing else, you should open another tab http://simpleheart.bandcamp.com/ and play “Lucky Strike” while reading his musings. But seriously, he’s a bike mechanic. So you should totally buy the album, and also take him out and buy him a drink and/or a hot meal.
i take to the night in cadences unexplored
i do not pioneer or arrive in prime
it feels a sort of slither,
a waltz swung out of time
a dog that catches his own tail
an eighth of a measure
before the metronome breaks the spell.
tonight is a magpie stood in front of a mirror, wondering
the wind rushes
(but I do not)
my patience is rewarded
and the city bows at my request,
its green lights flowing
to the emperor in my chest.
of the somnambulisms that I wander there is one I cherish most,
its path a plain, pinched charity to its walking, waking host.
Scott Baker, PBM
Last ride of the month. Time to go big. Want to get more than 20 miles in one shot. It’ll be my longest bike ride yet. I bring along PBM just in case his personal bike mechanic skills are required and also because he’s kinda cool.
Meet him outside PAM and jet across the river to hop on the Springwater Corridor. This is a bike/hike/walk path that starts on the Eastbank Esplanade and goes all the way to Gresham. It’s a really easy path, crosses intersections rarely and has very minimal elevation changes.
We take it out to mile marker 12.5 so that we can hit an even 25 miles. This was around SE 128th Street. Not quite to Gresham, but good enough for me. Took a short water break and headed back to town.
On the way back, PBM commented that it was nice to take it slow and have time to take in the scenery. I was pretty sure we were going fast until that point. My legs felt a bit like jell-o and every time we had to stop, it was increasingly more difficult to start up again. The ass pain was back and I shifted frequently to find a more comfortable position that didn’t exist.
When I got home and mapped our route, it turned out to be 25.97 miles in a little over 2.5 hours. I was almost slightly heartbroken that it didn’t reach the marathon length, but I guess that’s a goal for next time. 25.97 miles is a new record for me. A record that signifies the distance my own exerted energy can take me in literal miles. My own exerted energy has taken me a lot of places and has done a lot of amazing things, but this is a quantifiable figure. An immediate gratification for a thoughtful and physical endeavor. And it wasn’t that hard. I can do two times that distance, after a bit more practice I imagine.
Went to the bike exhibit at the Portland Art Museum this morning. Pretty excited there just so happens to be a bike exhibit during bike month. It’s the first time I’ve ever been to an exhibit here and was surprised at the $15 admission fee. The exhibit took up one very large room and had 40 different bikes hanging from the ceiling with descriptions of how they broke the bike mold or influenced different trends.
I was hoping for more. I had thought it would be an evolution of the bicycle. Not to say that it wasn’t informative and cool to see, because it was. There were several bikes built to fold in half or more to be used as carry-on luggage or be hurled out of an airplane for military use.
That yellow tandem “buddy bike” can only be used with two people. The one on the left controls the steering even though they both have independent handlebars. There was also one so rare and priceless that was blinged out with a gold chain. So fancy!
Time for the true test: Bike through the city to downtown Portland. I’ll admit I’m still a little apprehensive about riding a bike downtown and on busy streets, even though most have a bike lane. But I decide today is the day. And there’s no crying in bike-riding.
I take a slightly longer route through back streets to avoid traffic and the possibility of being mauled by soccer moms. It takes me about 45 minutes to travel the 8 miles to PBM’s place. After an hour or so, it gets super dark and starts to sprinkle, so I decide to catch the bus back. This time, I’m prepared. I know exactly how to finagle the hardware latches and mechanisms necessary to secure my precious cargo. I go through the motions in my head before the bus arrives, mapping out each move before I make it and how that move will impact the next. I’ve calculated the time it will take from start to finish, even with a slight cushion to compensate for rain and slippery hands. When the bus pulls up, it’s game time. I’ve been practicing for this exact moment in my head for at least the last 45 seconds. Minimum. Grab the top handle, squeeze, pull down. Done. Lift the bike into the tracks. Boom. Pull the rubber arm over the front wheel. Uh, nailed it. I wiped my hands together in the universal sign for “job well done” and proudly ascended the steps to my chariot. This, my friends, was a much different experience from my previous attempt at bus/bike riding where all I felt was shame and defeat.
I paid the man the standard fare, finger-snap-pointed to one passenger, high-fived another, and dance-walked to a seat in the back. Well, I would have done that if I didn’t instantly realize that I was on a bus populated with people who gave up on life and the celebration of small wins long ago. So, I grabbed a seat and played on my phone like everyone else.
By the time I got to my stop, it was straight up raining. No more dainty sprinkles. This was big ass rain. Which supplied me with my very first bike ride in the rain. It was very slippery and (thankfully) only 2 blocks. And I don’t recommend it to anyone riding without a helmet and/or bike lights. Seriously. That shit is dangerous.
Finally got my bike fixed and she’s running like a champ! Good thing because my bestie from Burque flies in today and we’ve got a whole day to roam the streets looking for trouble. After a very satisfying and coma-inducing brunch, we set off on our bikes (one she’s borrowed for the day from my former squatter housemate) to Mount Tabor. This is the tallest peak in Portland and an active volcano. We make it about halfway up before we realize that there is going to be no foreseeable break in the incline. So we walk up the second half. Don’t judge.
It’s a beautiful view of the city and we hang up top for a bit. She poses at the top of the stairs that lead to nowhere.
We rocket down the hill, riding our brakes most of the way and still going way too fast. Grab Italian Sodas and walk our bikes to practice some vinyasa at Mandala Yoga on Belmont. It was an amazing class. We take it slow on the way back to my place, relaxed and tired from a fun and stress-free day of bikes, yoga, and conversation. Finally, some tacos and margaritas finished off the best day of the year.
Portland is the most amazing place in the world. Seriously. Obviously I love the amount of weirdness (like the guy who rides a unicycle and plays bagpipes dressed as Santa and Darth Vader,) the fact that brunch is an art form (bacon Bloody Mary, anyone?) and the constant electricity of people actually *doing* things (after a couple bacon Bloody Mary’s, of course.) But, the Tool Library is a very special breed of place that can only exist in a town that is dedicated to activism, volunteerism, community, and general cheapskatery.
I need a saw to make my daybed and I don’t want to buy one just to use on the rare occasion that I decide to make something that cannot be cut with sharp scissors. So, I decide to check it out.
The Tool Library is a backroom with no windows in the side of a church that also hosts yoga classes and organ lessons in their respective backrooms. It’s open for two hours on Tuesday nights and Saturday mornings. You have to provide an ID and mail that proves that you live in the area. This gives you rights to borrow anything you want for a week. If you don’t bring it back within that 7 days, you pay a fine of $1-$2 depending on the tool you borrow. Uh, awesome! They have tools for gardening, automotive, contracting, and general home maintenance. I choose a miter saw and a long extension cord.
So, I’ve already said I’m trying to buy a house. I’m pre-approved and seriously shopping. It’s probably a good idea to figure out how much money I’m spending each month on what and how I can be better at saving. It’s also starting to get nice outside so there are more options for cheap and free activities. My goal is to save enough money this month to buy and iPad Mini and get some plans in place to monitor food costs. I’m pretty sure I spend a ton of money on food.
Okay, so the sideways looks I was getting from people when I said I was going to teach myself guitar in one month were well warranted. I’m not a guitar god. I didn’t learn a full song. I can’t quite “rock out” the way I had envisioned. So, I decided to break down guitar month into two months, the latter to be used at a future time. This month was all about guitar fundamentals… procuring said guitar and figuring it out took a bit longer than anticipated. The next guitar month will be about learning a song. Maybe by then, I will pay for the ability to post videos on this site… but probably not. I’m trying to save money. Hey, wait a minute. That’s a good idea…
So, I really haven’t been spending as much time as I should practicing chords and moving through the beginner program at http://www.justinguitar.com, but have I mentioned I’m trying to buy a house, and I worked 6 days this week, and I’m very busy and important?? Oh. I’ve mentioned that already? Well, it’s true. 🙂
Today, I took 15 minutes out of my aforementioned very busy schedule to learn anchor fingers. If you keep your first finger on the string, it’s easier to move your other finger to their positions when you change chords. I practice the 3 chords I know while keeping my first finger down instead of picking all my fingers up and trying to find the right strings again. It does make it much easier.