Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Best Bike Racks

Today’s Cutest Bike Rack award goes to this one in Northwest Portland, I think on ….. I forgot. Overton? And around 20th?
I didn’t notice this at the time, but does the back of that truck have a propeller on it?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I take it with me everywhere.

It’s more like a pet than a bike, only better. (Try getting your dog to carry you somewhere.)

This afternoon after wrapping up a series of stressful and challenging matters in my life, I needed a big fat reward. Bromp and I went to Costello’s, my favorite café in all of Portand -- minutes from my house as well as seconds from the whole rest of the world. Two wall mounted flat movie screens play endless footage of the owners’ travels, and their cinema-tography is as good as their food. You can’t find better quiche than theirs.
I could go on about their other assets, but let me cut to the main point: It’s called Pot de Crème, and it’s insanely good. With espresso, black. Don’t take anyone with you, it’ll distract you from the full experience. You have to concentrate on it – the texture, the darkness, the contrast of its perfect amount of sweetness with the bitterness of the coffee. Make it last as long as possible. It's ok to watch the movie, but NO READING. If you read, or talk to anyone, you’ll miss it. Ever get to the end of an article and wonder where your food went? That’s what I mean.
I flipped up the back wheel and rolled right in. Tucked it in next to me, right at the table. I’ve been doing this all over town. So far, no dirty looks, no unwelcoming comments. No uptight busybody employees of any establishment have ruined my party. I’m not sure how this will pan out when the rains start and the Bromp is trailing water and mud. It hasn’t rained since I got it, believe it or not, so the Wet Bromp Report is yet to come. But what am I doing? Let’s not think about rain till we have to.

Wanna bite?


Monday, July 21, 2008

My other bike is jealous.

I’ve ridden the Brompton almost exclusively since I got it. I don't have the luggage system yet because the shop had run out of them at the time that I bought the bike. So I’ve been using a backpack — not ideal, but functional. One day when it was too hot to wear a backpack and I needed extra tote space, I rode my old bike which has a rear rack and a basket. The feeling was similar to switching back to a car after you’ve grown used to riding a bike – like decadent excess. And its wheels felt so HUGE! So slow to go around! And the bike itself is such a TANK. So much squishier than the Bromp. Not so nimble. Like dancing with some clod in hiking boots.

In addition to all that, I was suddenly ordinary again. No admiring stares, no envious looks, no emphatic comments, no awe, no amazement, no show-off opportunities. No nothing.

I had thought all that would get old in a hurry, but it hadn’t yet.

All of a sudden I was a little brown mouse on a brown plain, whereas I’d gotten used to being a tropical bird in a lush emerald jungle.

I switched back to the Brompton the very next day.

This is awfully fun, but I may have completely ruined the other bike. I feel bad.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Across Town on the Bromp: first stop Powells Books

Today I took my maiden voyage downtown on my Brompton. Not only am I not slower than other bikes, I find myself on several occasions rolling faster! Is that possible? If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know what a slow-mo I am. I was sure that the tiny wheels would mean a sacrifice in efficiency. Am I just extra excited or something? And the few gradual hills felt no more difficult than on my regular bike. Even the Lovejoy Street approach to the Broadway Bridge was a snap.

I went to Powell's Bookstore. No browsing today, just a meetup with someone in the cafe area. So far I haven't dared leave the bike out of my sight -- it's way too new. If it's going to get stolen, that's going to have to happen much, much later, because now I just couldn't deal. Too cruel. So at this point I don't even have a lock for it.

I popped the back wheel under, which is what you do to let the bike stand on its own (it serves as a kickstand), also to begin the folding process. In this state the bike takes up about as much length as one of those SUV baby strollers everyone uses nowadays, only much narrower. I tipped it back on its wee rollers, darted into Powell's Couch Street entrance, and rolled it down the wheel ramp, which no one saw because of the partition railing along it. When I popped out the other end I was in full view of the cashiers, the main information kiosk, and the used book buyers. I zipped right across that lobbyish area and disappeared into the elevator, emerging in the yellow room where I wove through the fantasy shelves to the cafe -- all the while half expecting to hear some uptight rule marm bray that annoying sound "Ma'm! Maaaaaaaaaaaaam!" followed by an adamant "No bikes in the store!"

Didn't happen. No one said anything. Not even in the cafe (which is World Cup) did anyone express annoyance as I snaked the bike between a few tables to reach the person I was meeting. Then I collapsed it down to demonstrate it to my friend.

Later I carried it back out of the store in its collapsed state, and began unfolding it outside the doors. I noticed two guys watching me, who waved and smiled when they saw me see them, and
called over "We're waiting to watch you turn that into a bike!" and "Just add water!"

At this point, I still love showing off with it. Snap, snap, snap, and off I go. It's like some kind of 007 seven contraption that comes out of an attache case. Or Maxwell Smart's shoe phone. This is my shoe bike.

Will the thrill wear thin? I've been on the MAX with it several times already. Did I think having this thing on the train was going to help me isolate myself from the teeming masses yearning to breathe free? Uh.....More about that soon.

Hint: this could be worse than having a goofy dog.


Friday, July 04, 2008

free at last, free at last

OK, this is IT. You saw the "before" picure, here's the "after". The miraculously empty unit. And now, the promised photo of my new zen minimalist self. It's a birthday present, it's a Christmas present, it's a storage unit vacating award, it's all of the above. Yes, friends, as openly pined for on several occasions on my blog, I now own a BROMPTON FOLDABLE BIKE!!! And in the nick of time! If you read bikePortland, you know that just in the last week, Trimet has begun resorting to the drastic measures of kicking bikers off the trains because of perceived overcrowding! Really. This is of course totally unacceptable for any serious person using the public transportation to get to work.

No one can kick me off with this wee thing. I've already tried it out. Stay tuned for my new life on the max with this fabulous disappearing bicycle.

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Where in Pedalpalooza have I been?

Not, I'm sorry to say, at that fantasmagorical Portland bike festival, of which there is no equal in all the world. I regret to inform you that I missed every single event. I've felt extremely deprived, but I'm putting it on my calendar NOW to make up for it in a very big way next year. Best I can do is link you to my coverage of it from two years back, and refer you to bikeportland, where you can vicariously experience every inch of this year's festival in lurid detail.

My big fat sorry excuse is that I've been spending every available moment for the last three weeks twirling in my own personal time machine -- whole chunks of my past brought to life by all the possessions and artworks and writing that accompanied them. "My name is Kate and I am a packrat." I've saved almost everything I've ever owned since birth.
Here's the view of my storage unit one year ago, almost to the day. Lindi and I have pecked away at it over time, taking away a car-load now and then to weed through, give away, or incorporate into the household. But it's been like the magic pitcher in the fairy tale -- no matter how much poured out of it, the inside remained full.
The latest rent increase finally did it. Here's how the storage business works: They get you in there on a deal, then as your stuff becomes this inert pile of fossilization, they ratchet up the rate, knowing full you're entrenched for life.
I could tell you a thing or two about getting rid of junk -- I could write the book. It's been excruciatingly difficult. I've even gotten rid of my trunks. I've still got a ways to go though. Does anyone want my tennis racket from when I was nine? And where am I going to keep my typewriter collection? Some questions remain unanswered, but I'm working on them. I've become an adoption agency for inanimate objects.

Upcoming Photo Exclusive: first image of self on blog EVER. The new minimalist ME. The birthday me. ...if you get my meaning. I've pared down to the sparest form of cycling. You'll be amazed.

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