Review: iSSi Pedals + Custom Rebuild How-To

Have you ever heard of these crazy technicolor contraptions? I’ve been hot for them since reading an article on Bike Rumor about their debut at Frostbike last March. Forgot about them for a minute, but then Bike Rumor reminded me in July about these stellar pedals and they permanently affixed themselves in my heart spot. I was lucky enough to be given a set of the “hi vis orange” pedals by an awesome rep and good friend of ours. I was so stoked when I received it. All I could think about was how awesome it was going to look on my Kinn. However, there was just one negative. They’re orange and black. I have been doing everything in my power to make this bike orange, teal and silver. . .

2015-01-18 10.19.45Thanks to some recent impulse shopping, I became in need of some more pedals. And suddenly all my problems were solved. If you’re not familiar with iSSi pedals, they’re kinda awesome. You can customize them to make them look pretty much however the hell you want, depending on how much you want to pay for rebuild kits. They’re like the legos of pedals. Since I needed two complete pedals, it was cheaper for me to get a complete bright silver pedal and cannibalize it than work with kits. I didn’t actually look at any rebuild instructions, but I feel that I am highly qualified to tell you how to put these together after my trials and tribulations.

I’m that cocky.

First I grabbed my seizure magnet, which I decided would be great for collecting loose screws and a T10 screwdriver. Long story short, you are also going to need a 2.5, 3 & 6 allen wrench AND a 9mm ratchet. You also need a sharp object to cut the zip ties in the boxes. I personally would also grab some grease to keep everything from seizing. (I also had to grab some lube but we’ll get to why later.)

2015-01-18 11.04.35I did one side at a time to try to keep the complication of parts down. I would take one part off of each pedal and then swap and so on. I highly recommend that. You won’t have to worry about too many parts flailing around on your work space. Something that I noted was that specifically on the orange/black pedal is that when you’re trying to unscrew an anodized screw that’s in a powder coated  plate on top of a powder coated core – it’s really fucking difficult; and they were almost as if they were welded together. I was terrified, not only of stripping the screws (only stripped 2), but of breaking the T10 Torx wrench, which I was borrowing from a mechanic. . . . because I mean, who really owns a T10?

I actually found that I did in fact own not one, but three in various manual and electronic forms the next day. So, there’s that.

2015-01-18 11.27.55Regardless, I had a difficult time getting these pedals together. I took many breaks because my hands tend to get sore from the repetitive wrenching. It was nice that Brad was there, because when I was getting the springs back in, I sometimes needed an extra finger to push in the pin a little bit. I found that it was easiest if I set the pedal on the side, screwed the tension screw the tightest it will go to hold the plate steady while you’re getting the first spring in place. Push the pin forward to hold the spring in place and get ready to place the second spring. (I assume you’ve ensured that they are properly placed on their little platforms.) Loosen the adjustment screw until the second spring fits into the the plate as well as onto its platform. As you are shimmying the pin in place, ensure that the bracket is level and matched up with its hole. Because what will happen is that you will go through the two springs and not make it through the other end of the bracket. Or you might even be able to make it through the bracket but you can’t get it screwed into the other end because you can’t see the hole. This is all intuitive, damn it. Once you get the first one done, congratulate yourself and take a break.

Because you are going to have to do it. Three. More. Times.

For those screws I absolutely could not get to unscrew and I was seriously worried about breaking the T10; I put a couple drops of lube right in at the base of the screw to try to work in the lubeyness for a bit to get it out. Did not work this time. Do you know what you do when you strip a screw? You take a tiny file and you turn it into a flathead screw. I don’t know why anyone thinks a star is a good idea for wrenching. It grinds both the tool and the screw super easy.

2015-01-20 17.14.04

After all the tears and swearing; bam – beautiful pedals. A set for my fantastic Kinn and a set for my wicked Salsa. All stylin’ and ready to go. Would I ever do this again?

Oh my g’d. This was more work than it was worth. But the results. . . amazing. I never want to do it again, though. But look at this things. I’m divided. I even swapped out the spindles. That’s how fucking hardcore crazy I am about color coordinating my gear. But I’m going to plan it out better so I don’t have to waste a day and a half getting carpal tunnel doing it.

New Bike Day: 2014 Salsa Fargo Ti

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Sometimes I wish that, like drugs, you could only buy bikes with cash. If you are naive to this or know differently then you, my friend, have much different worldly experience than I do.

My neurologist called me a couple days ago with some blood test results I had taken the other morning and in his words, my vitamin D is “crazy low.” Like so low that over-the-counter vitamins won’t help. So he went ahead and called in a prescription for a once a week dosage with the intention of testing my blood again in a few weeks. Apparently normal vitamin D range is between 25 – 80ng/ml. Anything 10 – 25ng/ml is considered low and something that should get checked out and maintained. I scored a whopping 9.3ng/ml.

Totally makes sense. The last couple of months have been a whirl of general malaise, lethargy, cognitive haziness (moreso than usual), fatigue, muscle aches, tummy issues and more. . . I deal with a lot of this stuff in general and have been having more intensified seizures lately so figured whatever. . . I was just going through another bumpy patch in my body’s deterioration. Well, turns out this might be totally fixable.

In my Vitamin D deficiency daze, I get a text message while I’m at work regarding three XS 2014 Salsa Fargo Tis that were being priced to move. It made me sick to think about because I am a very meticulous person when it comes to things like this. I mean, it’s been over a year and I still don’t have my touring bike built! I budget and make spreadsheets. . . but then I went over and looked at this thing in person.

Shit.

20150117 - BYK - Fargo TiDT Swiss hubs, Stans, carbon fork, SRAM. Shit. I did make a minor change from just “out-of-the-box” and put some Fizik metallic blue bar tape on it to match the dark blue of the powdercoating. Matchy-matchy. I can not express to you how much I loathe cork bar wrap. It rains so much in the Pacific Northwest, and do you know what happens to cork when it gets wet?

It gets slimy. So fucking slimy. And for someone that has texture issues similar to Aspergers it’s not even funny. It’s like that fucking green gel on rocks at the beach. That’s what wet cork rubbing against wet gloves, rubbing against clammy hands reminds me of – why do people expose themselves to that?

Anyway. . . I need to get a different saddle, but that’s going to be a “Princess and a Pea” situation. . . or “Cinderella“. You know. Some story involving something that you can’t get to work just right. The saddle that comes stock with it; the WTB “Pure” is like riding on a davenport. I want something that is narrow (and without a whale tail), but because I want to use this bike primarily for bikepacking and trail riding I want a little cushion for the pushin’.

Sooooo. Did I suddenly win the lottery?

No. By the way, it’s my own business what I do with my money. However, I did mention that these bikes were priced to sell, and I did have to make my decision right then and there. It was definitely an impulse buy. All three bikes were gone within 12 hours of being put on the shop’s website. (And it was local pickup only so we could, you know – start a tiny person Fargo Ti club.)

What makes this bike different than the Kinn is that I feel that this was a once-in-a-lifetime chance. Kind of like bike-packing. Just getting off the main road and throwing on some frame packs and going. It was impulsive, but then so are some of the decisions you have to make when you’re on the trails. Sometimes you just have to go for it.

The Kinn, on the other hand is like a well-planned out vacation. It’s well calculated and planned out to the very last detail. They definitely serve different purposes.

(Also, I have an Ibis coming. And have set up a vague trail day with my friends for when that happens. 2015 is the year of bikeaholic Halley. Every time I think about it, my heart races and my eyes dilate. I start to feel the adrenaline and anxiety. Am I in love? With cycling?)

For all these reasons, I have named my Fargo; чемпиона мира. [Chempiona Mira] – it means “Champion of the World” in Russian. (Oh yeah, I speak Russian by the way.) However, in Russian the word for world also is the word for peace which makes me think of the quote by Ghandi; “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I am also reminded of the Spanish word for “look, see” or “to watch”  which is the verb “mirar.” (I”m taking Spanish classes right now.) I just think it’s so apropos to have a name that is so multi-faceted about seeing the world and also about self-empowerment.

Also, people that don’t name their bikes are weird.

I can’t wait until I get some of this bike paid off so I can afford some frame bags and bling.

Honor the Past. Enjoy the Present. Embrace the Future.

So here I am sitting here on New Year’s Eve 2014. I am thinking of all the hot fads that I should talk about from this year and decided that since I’m not black, have ebola or ALS, don’t hate Israel, it’s not Thursday, don’t watch Game of Thrones or soccer and haven’t seen the new Star Wars yet. . . . that I will talk about women empowerment!

Specifically I am going to talk about finding strength within my own family of strong, powerful and independent role models. I have said before that I come from 3rd generation female bike tourers. Well, I’m not bullshitting. I’m going to introduce you to these lovely ladies in just a moment. These women raised me with more compassion and love and life skills than I could have imagined at the time.

khklhMary (1925 – 2014) was born in Great Falls, MT. At a wee darling age, her family packed up and shoved off to Skagit County in Washington State where she attended school and graduated in the class of 1943 at Mt Vernon High School. Mary was always hardworking and always eager to take on both paid and unpaid opportunities.

While working at the Navy Exchange at NAS Whidbey, Oak Harbor WA, Mary met the love of her life, Sgt. Warren Allen USMC. They moved many times during their 60 years of marriage, and each house, Mary quickly turned into a home.

Camp Fire Girls was a big part of Mary’s life. She was a member as a child and became an adult volunteer participating in the day camps and as a Camp Fire Leader from 1965 through 1978. She participated in several bicycle trips in the 1970s riding and camping along the Washington coast and Whidbey Islands. She received several letters of excellence and recommendation for these trips from the Camp Fire Council.

12 yr old Mary with bike decorated for Montgomery Ward 4th of July parade

12 yr old Mary with bike decorated for Montgomery Ward 4th of July parade

Because she was freaking awesome.

I mean, seriously. We’re not talking about space-age neoprene and Ortlieb panniers here. We’re talking exterior aluminum frame backpacks. Horribly shitty leather straps that stretch and snap when they get heavy or wet. And take a moment and hug your Timbuktu bag, why doncha? Because velcro? In the ’70s. A burr wouldn’t even stick to that. You were dealing with frame bags that were constantly hitting your knees, heavy bikes and gear that’s trying to kill you.

As a side note, because we ARE talking about awesome women – which can be supported by their equally fantastic spouses. And let me tell you – this man was one of the fantasticist – my grandfather Warren. . . after he retired from the USMC in the late 60s, early 70s found himself working with some good ol’ Chicago steel as a Schwinn bike mechanic. For years we had a beautiful old tandem and my mom’s cruiser (complete with sissy bar and banana seat!) hanging from the roof of the basement at the grandparents’ house until about 10 years ago when my cousin liberated them and fixed them up. She lives about 5 miles from me and I send her scowling glares every morning when I wake up. But what I DID manage to get, hidden among dozens of hardbound National Geographics were my grandfather’s original Schwinn Bicycle Repair Manuals. . . Volume 1 AND Volume 2 from 1969. I have them nestled on the holiest of shelves. Right between my official Bahrain government copy of the Q’ran and Lance Armstrong’s autobiography.

dsfsdfsd

Denim & Perms were “In” in 1986. Also in 2014 in Dallas.

I could talk about my grandparents forever. They were stellar people. But I’m going on. Their youngest daughter showed up; Susan! This was seriously the best photo I could find of her that was topical. She claims this was at Skagit River Woods. I swear it was at Sunset Beach (now Washington Park) in Anacortes, WA. She’s training me early for off-roading. Look how I’m hucking these rollers! I’m all over that shit!

Though Susan rode a bike as a child, she began doing more intense riding in high school on overnight camping trips along the Washington coast and Whidbey Island in the mid to late 70s. When I asked, she fondly recounted the Skagit Flats Century she did in 1976, which they still do today, by the way. (I lie, she didn’t fondly recount it. She told me how much it sucks to do a 50 mile lap twice. I agreed.) She also was heavily involved with the Young Adult Conservation Corps in the late 70s, early 80s. When I asked on average how long those rides were, she shrugged (verbally. This was over the phone.) “They were all day.” She replied. “We would set for about 5 hours out and then 5 hours in. Would go from Mt Vernon to sometimes past Sedro Wooley or Concrete.

I have a pretty cool mom. Everyone says so.

So here I come along, and what am I? Just this little thing. Barely 6 lbs. I couldn’t even walk until my 1st birthday. But oh, I was potty-trained well before that. Don’t believe me? I will get an audio affidavit from my mother. I would drag myself to the trainer-pot rather than get help from anyone else. And it wasn’t like I had it easy. I had a giant cast on my foot for the first few months of my life.

Of course you did.

I know, right. One more thing on the problems, that are my life pile. Yeah. Really. Won’t get into all the fascinating details, but I was sitting on my foot. In the womb. Which caused me to come out all pigeon-footed. But just on one-side. The chain-ring side. My options were to lose all my toes in a tragic fixie incident or try to correct it. It eventually worked itself out. 28 years later, chronic back pain, biweekly trips to the chiropractor, acute scoliosis and all that crap. . . feet straight as an arrow. Hips and spine might be a little wibbly wobbly though. Also, I nearly died. Like mom was in the hospital fighting for her life with her temperature rising, and this bun in the oven becoming way overcooked.

gfdgffdSo of course we’ve made it up to me. I was my big brother’s sister. Whatever he was doing I wanted to do. He skateboarded so while he was in his room wrenching on some really fancy trucks and a customizing the grip tape on his. . . I don’t know the brands. . . Volcom? Vans? I remember Wet Willy or some shit. . . anyway – I got hand-me-down or the department store board. Not because my parents weren’t encouraging. Far from that. What do you think my brother started with? The problem was that I showed more promise in luging than I did skateboarding. Perhaps I could have been the first woman from Skagit County to great a tobogganing team. The Pacific Northwest Bobsled Team. Regardless, I have a terrible sense of balance and skateboarding is not my sport. (In case anyone cares, I ride better goofy vs regular though I write right handed. I do a lot of stuff left-handed, though. Internal struggles. Even my own body has commitment issues.)

Later in my tweens I got my brother’s hand-me-down snowboard when he finally got taller than me. I was able to find every single tree that was buried under the snow. Like a dundro-magnet. It’s too soon for any of the jokes I want to tell in this paragraph. Just remember to only ski or snowboard in clearly marked areas where you are comfortable, don’t go out of bounds and watch out for trees, Kennedys, waterbottle football, Bono and of course. . . be responsible.

3368542143_59e23311b6_oLong background short; I tried a lot of things and I had a lot of experiences. My grandparents (on both sides of my family) would take my brother and I camping during the summer. We’d bring our bikes and be gone on adventures during the day racing all over and back in the evening hungry and happy. Without being space cadet hippies my parents, the company we kept and extended family encouraged us to follow our bliss and I’m able to look around at all my cousins and realize that we all have it pretty good.

Yeah there’s some shit and negative stuff going on in everyone’s life, but like the title of Ram Dass’ amazing book, which you can’t really read because it’s not really a book but rather just something that you stare at when you’re tweaked out of your gourd; “Be Here Now.”

I’m going to leave you with yet another spiritual thought. Shit I’ve done a few of these lately. (Have I mentioned that’s what I majored in? It must be leaking out of me somewhere. Anyone have any Stan’s I can plug it with??)

About 5 years ago I got a phrase from the Aleinu scarred into my arm so I was forced to stare at it every day. It is part of the Mishnah in the phrase, “mipnei tikkun haolam” to indicate that a practice should be followed not because it is required by Biblical law but because it helps avoid social disharmony. I believe that everything that I do should be in this effort. Tikkun olam. Repair the world.

While I don’t know what 2015 brings, I do know that it’s going to be amazing because I am going to be there to live and experience it. And I have so many awesome people that helped shape my life and make me who I am today. So I thank them for everything.

Happy New Year everyone.
Be safe out there on the roads however you choose to travel.

Happy Holidays!

xmascard.pgStay safe this winter and riding into the new year.
Much love from BIKELEPTIC and family.

Brad & I are wearing matching Twin 6 Xmas Pickle “Hallelujah” shirts.
They don’t have them anymore that I can find, but they have Xmas Hotdog shirts this year!

My mom made my pj pants.

REVIEW: CamelBak FORGE – Vacuum Insulated Mug w/ VIDEO!

2014-11-03 15.23.16-1Really now? Reviewing mugs. . . These things are hardcore. I originally saw them at Interbike this year and played with their features there. Had to be shown how to use it by the CamelBak rep back in September and when these two 16oz double-walled brushed steel mugs arrived in the mail on November 3rd, I couldn’t even figure out how to open it.

So much for one-handed opening.

It’s actually pretty easy. I still had to be shown how to open it for “easy cleaning.” (Psst. The trick is that you have to take the lid off the tumbler and then it pops right off.)

What a great idea though, right? It’s winter time. The weather outside is frightful – let’s get something to keep us warm and fits in a waterbottle cage. In fact these babies are marketed to cyclists almost as if it’s a ‘No Duh’ kind of thing on their website. You too can drink scalding hot coffee while careening down a hill at 35 mph.

But here’s the thing, that double walled construction? I thought it would have been great for keeping my hands warm. You know what that would mean, though? That heat is escaping. I can put scalding liquid in this sucker and meh, it’s kind of room temperature. It gets a little warm around the plastic lid, which does get warm, but the metal, against all basic “metal gets hot when you put hot things on it” logic. . . stays cold. You don’t have to explain thermodynamics to me today. I realize there’s more going on here.

What happens when you put hot liquid into an air-tight environment and then squeeze out the rest of the air? I’m probably not explaining this right, but the correct answer is EXPANSION. Every time I put something hot in my mug, then go to take a drink out of it, I get a little scalding, sticky geyser of chai. . . or apple cider. Not much. It’s worse the first time. Doesn’t really happen after those first couple of times. But when you put it on your work desk and and get those raining shots of brown spittle all over some important paperwork just because of hot liquids under pressure. . . it’s a little irritating.

So there’s that.

I have no idea, what the fuck an “Aroma Bowl” is, as pertaining to the FORGE Mug. I mean, I could probably pick one up at any head shop here in Portland, but the instructions that came with my mug were vague. The website is vague. To be honest, I don’t remember what the guy at Interbike told me. I’ve clicked and poked at the lid of my mug until I thought I would break it.

Conveniently I figured out how to lock it open in the process.

The website says that the design of the lid is supposed to be the fabled “Aroma Bowl” and it’s supposed to help me sense the temperature and enhance the aroma of my beverage. I am currently drinking apple cider and when I lock my mug open all I can smell is the vanilla almond milk chai I had in there previously. Also, even though the lid feels warm, nothing can prepare me for the skin-peeling boil that is inside my mug.

I need some Japanese technology to pimp out my mug, voice activated sipping; “Don’t drink dumbass. Didn’t your mom ever tell you to blow on hot things?

  • The lid is complicated, but it works. Drink one-handed. I haven’t had any issues with leaking; which I can’t say for any other CamelBak item I’ve owned.
  • Make sure you wash your shit regularly. There’s a little rubber gasket plugging the drink hole. That looks like a nasty mold and bacteria trap. I’m the kind of person to just rinse & refill. Don’t be me. Wash the lid.
  • Well over 4 hours of keeping liquids hot – just as advertised. I am a sipper. This is a great feature for me. This can also lead to mold because if you’re also like me, I’ll forget about what I have in my mug four days later and then open up to some funky-ass drank. Maybe it will still be warm.
  • I really like the narrow construction for cycling. I think it’s classy and modern looking. Great transition from a work environment to going downhilling.

Article: Oregonian ‘Uber insurance or blinking bike lights? What’s a bigger safety risk in traffic?’

oregonian_lightsI got a phone call about a week ago that I didn’t recognize the number for. I usually don’t answer those numbers, but a lot has been going on in my little universe lately. . . or it could have been an appointment reminder from a doctor.

It was Joseph Rose from the Oregonian! He had gotten my phone number from a friend of mine and wanted to talk to me about blinky lights and how they affect photosensitive epilepsy. First of all, I was excited by the fact that good ol’ fashioned networking works . I tout it all thing during the employment classes I teach at work. But to see it work in real life; awesome sauce!

Second of all; the Oregonian is one of two main newspapers in town. Four if you count the pseudo-alternative ones. (And you should. They really have the best information as it relates to Portland metro.) The others; Portland Tribune, Willamette Weekly and Portland Mercury. Then there are a plethora of other niche magazines that appeal to different areas of town and interest groups, etc. Totaling a couple dozen different ways to get the information you need. But the Oregonian? That’s the long fingers the news. And Mr. Rose is known for his sometimes contentious transportation stories.

I almost wanted to decline talking to him.

But then I figured that there are a lot of idiots in the world (insert people who are naive about other people’s disabilities) and if I could at least plug a little bit of knowledge worm in a couple people’s ears then I had done a good job.

And then I read the comments.

As I’ve stated in previous entries, I really, really hate the acronym “NIMBYISM” and until recently didn’t even know what it meant. If you don’t, it means “Not in my backyard.” This is especially frustrating when someone is saying it in the context of, “I’m gonna continue flashing my strobe lights until drivers stop trying to kill me.” That doesn’t even make sense. There are a myriad of studies that show that while flashing lights may help drivers visually see you better, it is more difficult to predict how far or close you are.

What people don’t think about is that epilepsy is a DISABILITY. It’s not just people whining about flashy lights. One of my favorite analogies to use is; if wheelchair users complained about the lack of curb cuts on sidewalks, would people treat them with the same indifference and downright malice in some cases?

In the comments on this article, and this is not the first time that I have read this, people have actually had the gall to say; “Why don’t they just avert their face?” Why don’t wheelchair users just use the side of the street instead of mounting the sidewalk? Do people not realize that it just takes a couple strobes to trigger a seizure!? Apparently not. Furthermore, some people with photosensitive disorders may not have the capacity to whine about it like I do. Some may BE wheelchair users that do not have a voice to say that they are suffering. For some reason, people are under the assumption that it only effects people with epilepsy and that we’re driving. What? We could be pedestrians, waiting for a bus on the sidewalk, passengers in a car, riding a bus, riding a bike or even sitting inside a building.

What this is very reminiscent of, is my recent experience with the Bike Theft Summit. It’s the fact that people have gotten away from the “community” mentality and more towards the “all for themselves” thought process. People are caring less for each other and how their actions effect another person. They are caring less about personal accountability and pushing it off; “I’m not going to do this until this person does this.” I don’t care what the other person fucking does! You should be doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do! Period!

Stop making excuses.

Event Report: Portland Bike Theft Summit

2014-12-10 18.20.20Bike thieves suck. So it was no surprise when Jonathan Maus posted on BikePortland.org that he would be hosting a Bike Theft Summit at Velocult on 12/10 it resulted in a packed house. Check out BP’s article for the full deets!

Jonathan had sent me an email a few days before the event asking if I was planning on being there because he knew that the topic of people experiencing homelessness and how it related to bike theft would come up during the event and he knew it was something that I was a little experienced with. (Now you know he was planting shills in the audience.) It actually worked out really well because the person that was supposed to show up with the Portland Parks & Rec dept ended up not showing up and. . . . I ended up being part of the first panel discussing Enforcement. (Plus if you know anything about my alter ego life and the non-profit that I started advocating for street musicians, I have no love for PP&R. I will deal with cops any day before those ring wraiths.)

Anyhoo. . . . it was really great. I was sitting next to Marc Jolin, the executive director of JOIN PDX, an agency that focuses on people that are living on the streets or in their car. They have housing, employment and day center services. Then it was Officer David Sanders, a bike cop from the central precinct and at the far end was Vivian Godsey, Multnomah County District Attorney.

Photo by Fred King.

Photo by Fred King.

I had been thinking about what I was going to say when I was at work today. I had the luxury of sitting in a 7 hour webinar where I was able to jot down a few thoughts about what I would say. And becuase I went off notes when I spoke, I have my original notes completely unread by anyone but myself and my two co-workers. Also, my coworkers threatened to steal everyone’s bikes who were at the summit tonight. Because who you have to worry about really is social workers. . .

Putting barriers in the way of supportive services when a person experiencing homelessness makes it nearly impossible for a person to get to an appointment or follow-up on appointments. It creates barriers where the person can get frustrated or discouraged and never engage by getting services.

Applying for assistance programs can be embarrassing, overwhelming or frustrating. Furthermore, many people could have had negative experience with agencies or law enforcement during their homelessness and relate supportive services to those feelings.

When experiencing homelessness it is very hand-to-mouth and many people are simply in basic survival mode. Where can I get food? Not every person feels comfortable going to the many food distribution programs available here in town. Many of them are religious based, and while they may not require prayer, there is stigma behind it. There is also the threat of unsafe situations in these populated areas where if they are a survivor of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking their abuser could be in these locations.

When it comes to bike theft; this is an unfortunate result of desperation for survival and not by any means limited to the homeless community. When a person is unemployed, maybe they are self-medicating or self-abusing with drugs or alcohol or are just looking for transportation themself to get more easily around the city. Bikes can be a low-hanging fruit as an easy target.

Theft is never right and never justifiable. I am reminded of Proverbs 6:30 “People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his hunger when he is starving.” So excuses might be found for a someone who steals because they are starving. They could be starving in many ways. For shelter, for money, for booze or drugs. For transportation.

What is needed is a well rounded approach in supporting those experiencing homelessness. Currently my agency has an amazing Outreach Street team which goes out and works with those on the streets and meets people where they are. We need more groups like that. We also need more agencies meeting people with well-rounded full service approaches to meet their housing, income, medical and health needs all in one place to better engage with and follow-up with people.

And for those concerned with bike theft; use good locks. More than one if need be. Don’t leave your bike unattended and in an unpopulated area. Especially for long periods of time. Bring it inside if you can. Also, use websites like the bike index, national bike registry and project 529. Register your bike on that last app. 529 is great. There are tiny GPS devices you can glue into your bike now. And if you see something sketchy, talk to the person with the bike or take a photo. If need be, report it. This is all about working together to keep each other safe.

There you go. I went so old school with this, I went Biblical.

What I really enjoyed about the summit (but not really, because how can you enjoy this??) – was the personal stories that were brought. Some of theft, some of vigilantism, some of recovery. Some were bittersweet, a little funny and many were sad.

Remember, if you see something, say something.

The Gift of the Fatty

My boyfriend is almost impossible to shop for when it comes to holiday gifts. Not only is he the retail manager at a bike shop so can get deals on things that I wouldn’t be able to, but also makes more money than I do and lives under the philosophy that if he wants it, and it’s within his means, than he’ll just get it. (You know, within reason and he does know the difference between “needs” and “wants.” Dude has it figured out.) So, when we started dating, and I implemented the “no shopping for yourself after Halloween rule” he wasn’t too thrilled about that one. And doesn’t really abide by that one. (We got Lego Movie for PS3 during a Black Friday sale so I’m not really complaining.)

Needless to say, he told me what he wanted for Christmas. He let me know that every year Fat Cyclist puts out this kit done by Twin Six and this year he wasn’t doing it. Instead, there was a pre-order for a new book by Fatty. He must have the new book and wool jersey and if I didn’t get it for Christmas for him to let him know because he was going to order it for himself.

Okay, easy enough to please. If you don’t follow Fatty’s blog; you should. It’s inspiring, it’s funny – it’s for a good cause; damn it! Last year I went in with Brad and ended up getting some Fatty kit myself, because it was wicked cool looking, all covered in pizza and hotdog spots. The thing is that he’s into donating to causes, such as the Lance Armstrong Foundation and the Huntsman Cancer Institute. The story behind this is sad and beautiful dedication is absolutely admirable and breathtaking. From what I understand, there is a book coming out soon from this perspective.

Anyway, there was a contest that I didn’t even really realize was happening. I think I saw when I ordered the book, but because I’m so meh about these things, it wasn’t a factor in my ordering that I could possibly win any Ibis bike of my choosing and get it pimped out with SRAM components with the assistance of Fatty.

So yeah.

Last night, Brad actually saw the twitter announcement first that someone in Oregon won and told me to check my email. Clever mother fucker.

fatcyclist_articleI did and played it off like there was nothing of importance there when in reality there was something EPIC in my email. A GOD DAMN ELEPHANT OF AN EMAIL! While watching the newest ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ movie (which sucked by the way) I tried to secretly email Fatty and would contact him later.

I’m terrible at keeping secrets and it lasted all of maybe 30 minutes. I tweeted something to Fatty and it posted on my Facebook which Brad saw. Yup. Cat. Bag. Out.

So, I get something really inspiring written about me on Fat Cyclist website. And I am getting a new Ibis bike. Say What!? That’s right. This is some freaking Gift of the Magi shit right there. I don’t even know how to comprehend this right now.

At first I felt guilty for winning because I felt like I should give away the bike to someone else or give it to Brad. However, Brad just brought home a new Twin Six ti fat bike frame last week and has a half built Salsa ti 29er in the garage. So, you know what? My hand-me-down SS Kona Fire Mountain (which is totally great and if someone needs a short track bike you should talk to me and I’ll get you set up for like a hug or Indian food or something.) will just go and sulk by ourselves.

I just need to figure out which frame I want. I thought I had it settled and made the mistake of calling Fatty. He gave me a lot of great advice which just opened the door open for more options so I’m back at square one. But I used me awesome time management skills and set a deadline for myself.

Thank you Fatty for making this a reality. And thank you EsteeFatty. I don’t know who would have been picked for 2nd if you had chosen to take your gift. Probably not me. It was a random generator after all. And had I been chosen 2nd and the bike was chosen by the other person, I’m in no shape to ride the Leadville Trail 100 (though I might have tried out of stubbornness.) You have made my Christmas amazing. If there is anything I can do to help you, please contact me. I have very little money to help with your medical bills (because trust me, I have tons of my own!), but I can cook, clean, play the harp, am an awesome moral support, can run errands, act as an official advocate in social service situations and more.

Event Report – 10th Annual Bikecraft

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Johnnie Olivan of Rejuiced Bikes and me! hashtag awesomeatselfies

There are just some things that are comfortable during this time of year; knitted hats and annoying music in the grocery store. . . and holiday craft bazaars. Something that has become a bit of a tradition here in Portland is the 10th Annual Bikecraft event that just happened this weekend (December 6th & 7th).

My friend Amos, whom I’ve known through a ton of bikey stuff over the years and we become good friends through our business in Bike Temple has been running this two-day shindig for the last few years and it has yet to fail to be a welcoming place to meet up with folks I haven’t seen in a couple months and find a gift or two for the upcoming holidays.

I’ve had the sniffles since Thanksgiving, but was determined to pop in for a couple hours to check it out and see if I could catch up with someone that I have missed for a bit. I loaded up on some swag and business cards and headed on across town to check out the bazaar.

This year it was held at Bike Farm down in inner North Portland. I’ve never actively volunteered there, but there was a couple hours where I watched a booth with their t-shirts. I know enough about their business model and what I’ve read about them that I was able to answer a lot of questions that people had. What ended up happening is that I had gone around the event, but I wasn’t really ready to leave, so Amos said that I could hang out at an empty table. Well, the empty table got taken over by some Bike Farm shirts, so I shared and tried to sling my stickers from a more stationary place.

bikelightsI had three random “door prizes” that were presented as I felt like it to three special people. They were three different colored spoke lights that you clip on called See ‘Ems. A great little stocking stuffer, and proof that I’m not a total bike light scrooge.  I gave the first set to Amos (right), who puts on this event. He was pleased. I gave the second set to my friend, Nate. He rides a bike we call the “tandumb.” It’s a tall bike with a stoker seat facing the captain’s crotch at the head tube. ‘Cause we’re friendly like that in the bike community. Nate was volunteering with Bike Farm today by serving beer. He’s a very goofy, great guy that offers his free time to a lot of different volunteer gigs. He also has a community hot tub on the roof of his apartment. The third one was a gal I didn’t catch her name. She said that she used to worked at a restaurant over on Division during one of the WNBRs and there was a lady in there one year when the ride went by that when she asked if she needed anything, the lady screamed; “More bread! Less nudity!” Gluten makes everything better. I totally hooked her up with a free WNBR sticker and lights for her story.

The problem with selling my stickers at events like this is that I have a pretty wishy-washy sales acumen. When people were asking how much they cost, I was deeply discounting them to $1 or a photo . . . or a hug. Needless to say, I didn’t make a ton of money because I was giving a lot of the stickers away for free. What money I did make does help with printing cost. . . except for the fact that on my way out, I threw 50% of what I made into Bike Farm’s donation can.

IMG_4981About midday “St Nicks” showed up. That’s right. About a dozen santas on freak bikes. Apparently from what I heard, the Dropout Bike Club is dressing up in Santa costumes every Saturday leading up until Christmas and going on bike rides around town; especially around the shopping area to spread holiday cheer. They were rocking some very traditional holiday tunes on a ginormous amp out on a bamboo trailer hauled by a tall bike. Pretty epic.

Food Not Bombs PDX showed up with free tamales that smelled amazing. I was on my way out when they started serving up so didn’t get a chance to try one.

It was great seeing some old friends and making some great networking connections with some local artisans, crafters and businesses. Thanks for putting on another great year of Bikecraft!

Event Recap – 2nd Annual Cranksgiving

Last year I helped my friends Laura and Tom organize this cool event I had never heard of called Cranksgiving. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a scavenger hunt that happens in cities across the nation where groups of cyclists gather food items for a non-profit.

Here in Portland, our non-profit for the second year running is Outside In. Their organization works with homeless and at-risk youth. We think that it’s a fucking tragedy that kids go hungry in this country, so we are doing our part to ensure that some pretty cool kids can have an awesome Thanksgiving. Not to mention Dave’s Killer Bread upped their donation from last year and ensued some gluteny goodness all freaking year long for these kids.

I got an email a few weeks ago from Tom saying that he would love to having me back again with my donation barrel. I jumped on the opportunity and borrowed a barrel from work. The agency that I work for supports over 9000 men and women a year in many different capacities. We have a day center which participants can get showers, clothing, toiletries, haircuts, nursing services, TB tests and much more. We also have two short-term residential facilities for men and one for women where a person experiencing homelessness can stay for up to 4 months while working with a housing case manager, attending classes, workshops and work with someone like me; a life skills coordinator who helps them with employment, volunteer and education opportunities while they address their barriers to housing.

KODAK Digital Still CameraI kinda went rogue and while representing the agency, I wasn’t technically on company time or anything. But it’s about professionalism and all that shit. So, smiles and stats and best practices! And with that I was able to take away 2.5 bags of coats, hats and gloves which some folks are going to be stoked to have this winter! So thanks everyone!

So I found myself at Cranksgiving with over 100 riders (making up 31 teams)! It was pretty awesome to say the least. I got to hand out flyers about our women’s shelter and network with a lot of really cool cats regarding donation opportunities.

2pm hits and the race is ready to go. The weather had been raining off and on throughout the day, and from what I heard in the warmth of Velocult was that the riders got caught in some torrential downpour. I drank two pots of hot herbal tea.

It was difficult to move in the venue with everyone crammed in there all costumed up, many having brought their bikes in with them. I’m really glad the fire marshal didn’t show up. It was kind of spectacular. Though, I wasn’t involved with the registration process, it seemed as if it went pretty smoothly from where I was stationed with my barrel. Because I had some notion of what was going on, I was able to direct those that needed assistance to where they needed to go, so that was cool. . . and probably helpful.

While we unfortunately didn’t get anyone join us this year, there were five different “Today Show” teams that joined 5 of the 70+ rides happening across the US and they did a segment on the history and what it’s all about. So that was freaking cool. You can view it here.

 Here is the full report from Puddlecycle laying out all the epic details and stats. What I do have to say is that the riders brought back almost $1900 in food and supplies. That’s about $400 more than last year! (basic math for the win!)

It all happened so fast, I couldn't get a non-blurry photo of "Team Wish Upon a Bone"

It all happened so fast, I couldn’t get a non-blurry photo of “Team Wish Upon a Bone”

The first team back made it in less than 1 hour. Seriously, it was like 50 minutes. These dudes were flying. I have no idea how they made it about 12 miles in that amount of time. I’m winded even lifting my bike off the storage hook. And it was rainy, remember. I ride slow in the rain. I tucker down and grit my teeth. But they just sucked it up and flew.

Quickly behind them was Team “Muscles with Brussels.” They were scrambling in the backdoor within minutes. Many members of this team were on the old cyclocross racing team, Team Slow – but they were showing their swiftness with that kind of finish.

There was so much selflessness that happened today. While the entry fee was $10 a person, which went directly to the purchase of food, teams went above and beyond. Bikes for Humanity PDX even donated 9 bikes and 9 mechanic courses valued at $1800 total. Rock on!

KODAK Digital Still CameraSo many amazing people made this event happen. I’m not going to attempt to name all of them, but this is about half of them. There you go!

I hope everyone had an absolutely amazing Cranksgiving and that they have a fabulous Thanksgiving. If you need help thinking of things to donate to your local homeless shelter, you can check out my guide.