Happy St Patrick’s Day from BIKELEPTIC

Let’s raise a toast to all the amazing support from the readers that have been keeping me riding and writing these last couple of years! (Pint Glasses are available in the shop!) I would also like to remind everyone, no matter their mode of transportation this weekend, if you drink, to drink responsibly. I hate to give that Nancy Reagan “Don’t Do Drugs” speech, but it’s some serious shit. Don’t be an asshole.

Speaking of St. Patrick’s Day, I have a gift for you! It’ in a form of a video! I haven’t done one of those in a while. I bet you’re thrilled, right? Don’t answer that. So, here you go. It’s a quick recording on my laptop, and you can hear cat jinglings in the background. Plus, you get to see the weird constipated look I get when I play the harp (I thought I was smiling) and my crazy skeletal fingers. That’s a treat, right?

It comes as bittersweet. Just a week ago I was at a funeral and the zipper for my harp bag stuck so I had to cut it open. No more traveling by bike trailer for this harp until I can get a new case. It lived a long 12 years, though. Justified being cut open frantically with a pair of tiny scissors an hour before the funeral. I had been talking about getting a new case for a while off and on. But it got pushed to the back burner with each new expensive; bike build, laptop, surgery bike build, surgery, bike build. I guess I can’t ignore it any longer.

Anyway, enjoy this video. Sans case.

Kinn: I Got Hitched!

hitch

No, no – I’m not getting married. I went in to Kinn’s and we started pimping out my ride. I’m doing some non-standard things to my bike because while this midtail was designed for families in mind, I certainly don’t have one on my horizon. I have trailer hauling, touring and adventure. So, I was looking for an all-in-one kind of bike.

Alistair, the founder and head bike builder of Kinn loves a challenge. When I told him I wanted to build a touring bike and that I regularly hauled a harp (and sometimes couches and bookcases) he was thrilled. I brought him my emergency spare hitch for reference. All my other hitches have already been brazed onto my frames. Since this frame had already been powdercoated, I didn’t wanted to damage the paint by brazing on the frame. Plus, it had amazing foot peg struts already built in that we were able to utilize. With some careful drilling and boring to widen the hole, I have a hitch!

We also installed my bamboo back rack. And I have to tell you this thing is amazing.

KODAK Digital Still CameraA midtail is meant to carry someone. And really you can tote around a couple kids or very small people. There are also rungs below the platform to clip your pannier. Some bikes you have to use proprietary panniers, but Kinn uses a gauge of steel that’s pretty universal for any kind that you want to use. There’s even enough junk in my trunk that I could potentially get custom panniers or recumbent style for REALLY BIG cargo space  back there.

So what’s going on it that photo up there? The front of the bike is left to give reference. In the rear there is a custom little lock box that I could keep a patch kit in or something. This doesn’t come standard on Kinns. What DOES, though is that pivoting plate up front. I LOVE that plate. Think of what I could put on there! A big box? Mattress? Firewood!?

frontAnd if that wasn’t enough I went ahead and got a Salsa Down Under front rack. I took that and a Soma Shotwell Stem, powder coated to match my frame. Because I really enjoy voiding warranties on components. They’re garrrgeous.

Wow. It really feels like I have a real bike coming together now. I guess I should start getting actual parts that will make it run instead of just glamour and cargo.

Hub Conundrum

son28-15-250_525

So, I had a plan. And as  many plans go, they have evolved and changed a couple times. This all started you see, because I decided that I wanted to be fancy and have a really complicated color scheme that involved attempting to color-match anodizing from several different companies.

Which in short, sounds like a very calming, easy proposition.

My original component color scheme was Gold with Red accents. I’m not delusional enough to think that I can color match several different parts from different companies all the same gold, so thought it best to bring in an accent color. Hell, sometimes parts from the same companies don’t match each other. (Different batches and all that.)

My Kinn logo decals are gold with red accents by the way. I have been told that they are going to be changing that. Don’t quote me on that, but that was kind of the reason for the gold/red combo.

Anyway, gold disc dynamo hub. Seems like an impossible feat, right? No one does anodized dynamo hubs. Shutter Precision, does. Or at least I thought that they did. After reading over all their stats and reviews. Drooling over the keyboard and trying to figure out how to get it shipped from Taiwan, I finally had the insight to email their customer service and ask them if they had any resellers in the US. That’s when I found out that the 7 beautiful colors that they advertise on their site is a LIE. A dirty, filthy lie. They are only selling black, silver and red. Because they are horrible human beings.

Sigh.

So then I decide that SP hubs probably had too much drag and flickered too much anyway. They are horrible hubs and no one should buy them. Super Nova. Now that’s the dynamo hub for you. Orange! I am going to do orange hubs. Their website boasts 8 Skittles-like candy-colored hubs that glimmer in the light and their stats talk about taking it on the Tour Divide and all sorts of brutally hard trips. It’s a newer company, but sounds pretty awesome. And I am digging the orange. I’m sold on the orange. Redesigned everything around the orange. Contacted them regarding the orange. Fuckers have discontinued the colors and are only selling, you guessed it red, black and silver.

Silver is starting to sound mighty fine to me. And you know what’s really nice about silver? Color matching parts. I am kind of looking at the SON 28 ISO at this point. (Hilariously, they come in silver, black & red as well. Can you see my frustration?)

I understand marketing, merchandising and all that from my previous life doing that sort of crap, so apparently there is some sort of higher demand for red, enough so to create a whole hub sub-market color. Whereas all the other colors are dying off. (Costs to create, keep them in stock, etc.) There’s a SON folding bike model that are colored, but not really appropriate for touring on full-sized bikes. (That’s not to say you can’t tour on a folding bike. It’s just not for me.)

So, back to square one on my hub search. SON is looking like the best option for me. I have always been a fan of them in general. They seem to have universal connectors for lights, etc. Have long-standing set of good reviews. Plus Peter White is a hoot to read on his blog – not essential, but a perk.

How are you illuminating your touring bikes? Any dynamo hub recommends? What I really liked about these three companies was their petite, compact rounded qualities. Some dynamos look pretty ugly, boxy and heavy.

EEGeeez I’m Sleep Deprived

I had the pleasure of going in for a “sleep-deprived EEG” on Wednesday. What the hell is that, you’re probably asking. I hope you’re not, because I am sure you realize that I am going to explain that it is, well – an EEG or if you can pronounce this, I will mail you a sticker or something (but probably not) Electroencephalography – and they check out my brainwaves. During this test they may or may not be able to see seizure activity.

The entire appointment lasts about an hour or so from start to finish, but there were some things that I had to do to prepare for it. . .

It is a test after all! I had to study! 

First, I could get no more than 4 hours of sleep. When they told me this, I laughed at the appointment booking person over the phone. On a normal day, I get about 5 to 6 hours of sleep. I aced that and only got about 2 hours of sleep, crawling into bed at 4am to barely stir to the alarm at 6:30am. I wasn’t allowed to have any caffeine the night before including chocolate. I don’t usually drink coffee (though enjoy chai) and am not particularly a fan of chocolate, but I have to tell you, I have never craved chocolate more than when being told I couldn’t have it. I succeeded temptation, though. I also was asked to wash my hair the night before. Score! Front of the class!

Morning of, I bundled up as it was bitterly cold and thankfully got  a ride to the hospital otherwise there was no way I was going to make it to the hospital. I could barely keep my eyes open and ended up at the Sleep Lab.

eegfeb14The funny thing about getting an EEG is that getting the lead wires attached to your scalp probably take longer than the actual test. The technician rubs  the scalp with an abrasive cloth (kind of like sand paper to ensure there’s no oil or gunky build-up on the scalp) and then sticks the wire head to the scalp with a petroleum jelly-like goop. The stuff he used on me had a very light lemony smell which made the experience very pleasant. There are almost 30 wires including some on each collar bones to measure heart rate, jaws and  eyes to measure eye movement. That’s a lot of goop and  wires. He used cotton balls to assist in sticking them so that he could press them in place and they would stick to where they needed to go and not to his finger. (Which is why the ones running along the top of my scalp look fluffy.)

Then it’s the not-so-fun part.

Because you know, that part was a blast a minute to lay there and get shit smeared through my hair.

The test itself is about half an hour. And they start off with the worst part and work towards the easier. First the technician had me do some control line exercises like opening and closing my eyes. Then he dimmed the lights in the room, set the video camera on me and pulled up the strobe light. I had my eyes closed during this part, but I hate it so much.

So much.

The technician will then run the strobe for a few seconds at different frequencies (or Hz) – I apologize but I am not sciencey enough to tell you what is the basal and each increasing increments. The point of this is NOT to cause me to have what is called a “clinical seizure” or a real one. So even though I kept having to be reminded to relax my jaw and I had tears running down the side of my face and it was burning through my eyelids, they were registering how my brain tracked the light.

Then it was over. And I had to hyperventilate for 3 minutes. I have to tell you, I am aces at this. In my head I just pictured a hill climb and mashing my pedals, nice even, fast, sharp breaths. So my nose and cheeks did get tingly and numb and I did start to feel cold, which is completely normal when you’re hyperventilating. But, what was really helpful was that the technician was counting down the time; “Two minutes thirty seconds.” “Two minutes.” Etc. It reminded me of when I used to ride with this guy on a back-to-back tandem which sounds really bizarre, but it was kind of a cool experience; only I could never see what was ahead of me. So when we would be hill climbing, he would call out “A hundred yards to go. . .  50 left.” And It helped me pace out my momentum and power output so I didn’t burn out before I got to the top of the hill. (Tandem captaining & communication skills are essential by the way. It’s true what they say about tandems. However, I’d still ride tandem with the dude – that wasn’t the only issue. We were stellar on the bike in my opinion, but I digress.)

Then there’s just about ten minutes or so of me laying there. Occasionally the technician would ask me to open or close my eyes.

At the end the technician mentioned that I had points of drowsiness, but never fell asleep. No shit. I don’t think I would have been comfortable to nod off when I am flat on my back staring at the ceiling unable to move. He mentioned that my brain tracked the strobes very well.

An interesting thing the technician mentioned was that the director of neurology who would be reading my test, was the 1st neurologist that I had here in Portland! She left the office I go to, to spend more time with her family and since then I am now on my 3rd neurologist. I am thrilled to have her be reading my EEG. Kind of cool to have that going on.

So, I will see what happens next. My new neurologist wanted an updated EEG for his files and to go from there.

Review: Shower’s Pass Women’s Crossover Jacket

I will tell you right now that I hate nylon. I hate the texture, I hate the swishy sound I make when I am moving, or in the case of sleeping bag – flopping back and forth on a hard, rooty surface.

Do you know what I hate more?

Being fucking soaking wet and having wind chilling me to the very core of my black soul.

The last time I shopped for rain jackets, it was a veritable nightmare. Thankfully a friend went with me for a portion of the extravaganza of Portland shopping. I can probably truthfully tell you that because of that month in autumn 2011, I now have experience in every type of soft shell, windbreaker and rain jacket available within the Portland metro area; both cycling and non-cycling specific.

I didn’t think I had a huge filter criteria. Just four things. (Five if you count the fact that at the time I was a little more curvier than I am now, which is bullshit in the cycling clothing industry.) Regardless, my criteria was: No yellow (or red), velcro or elastic. Apparently that makes it very difficult. I wasn’t opposed to the last two. I just didn’t want them especially in the wrists or other high-use area that was going to get frayed, stretched, snagged etc by everyday use. I ended up, after trying on dozens of jackets that didn’t fit or were just awkward, the Showers Pass “Portland” Jacket. There were many positive and negative qualities about it. I had to wear it with the side pleats open to fit my curvy hips, for one. (I can totally tell you that story. It involves me spraining my ankle within 10 blocks of purchasing it. I was more concerned with my jacket elbows than my pannier and bike in the middle of the street/streetcar tracks. That jacket was indestructible!)

After I got rid of it that jacket due to it just being too big for me, I ended up just wearing some Marmot waterproof windbreaker I picked up second-hand. It was also too big, I found and wind blew up my backside.

I might as well be wet, right?

Women's-Crossover-Jacket-front-(hood-down)-OliveThis brings us to Christmas this year when Santa brought me a Showers Pass Crossover Jacket. He must have been listening because I had been scoping this one out at the bike shop for a little while. It is really not something I would normally get myself, because of the nature or what it is, but it is definitely something that now that I have, when the weather outside is frightful, I am glad that I have it. I was originally drawn to it by its color, actually. Shower’s Pass, to me, is not only known for its hideous color choices – their flagship goldenrod jackets that sear your retinas with that. . . ehhhck. All I can think of is nutritional yeast. Every aspect of nooch. Making food with it, the next morning when you pee and it’s that orangey color. Yellow. Don’t get me wrong, I love earth tones. I just have olive-tone skin and don’t want to walk around like a jaundiced Big Bird sounding like a trash bag

Swishy, swishy.

I liked the olive green of this jacket. At the time, I didn’t know anything about it except that it’s olive green which isn’t really that common for cycling jacket brands. I think Chrome does one. But it’s probably stiff like waxed oil skin. I’ve felt their black jacket. Meh.

So, I didn’t even realize in the store when I was admiring it that it had a hood. That’s actually kind of cool. Not really a common thing with a bike jacket. I guess it could get in the way of your peripheral vision while riding, but you have to remember that Shower’s Pass isn’t specifically cycling. They could have meant this jacket for jogging or camping or something. I love the hood. It makes it multi-modal for me when I am huddled at the bus stop or battling against the rain. Tight fitting against my head and not all billowy. I guess the website says that’s so it can fit “under your helmet” if that’s your thing.

What you can expect:

  • Pit-zips. It’s a bike jacket. These are more forward set and easy to access while riding. Even while wearing a backpack. 
  • Butt-Tail. Again, bike jacket. It’s got that cut where it’s longer in the back that makes it ideal for that bent over position on or off the bike. 
  • It’s got the reflective tape – and if you’re familiar with Shower’s Pass tape, it’s bright and glowy. There are all sorts of varied reports about reflective tape making you more visible.
  • So, there IS velcro. Vvrrriiiippp. However, it is a very well done, thin strip on the cuff. If you’re the kind of person that wants to cinch up their cuffs around their gloves, and then each time they release it spend the next week picking backpack fuzz out of the velcro. Or, you can just set it to where you like it, and never move it again. (There’s also a bit of elastic, but it’s so minimal, it’s not even worth me mentioning.)
  • Packability! (That may or may not be a real word.) We’re really good at buying stuff that gets discontinued. This last summer my boyfriend got a Chrome Lieutenant Messenger bag. I can’t find it on the website, but it has two front pockets on it. They kind of look like their “Sotnik” bag’s pockets. Anyway, after the sun came out and I didn’t need the shell anymore, I wadded it up and shoved it into this relatively small pocket. I mean, I don’t think I would be able to really put more than a t-shirt in that pocket. It’s pretty small. (It looks like it would bevel out, but it really doesn’t that much.)

What it isn’t going to do? It’s not really that warm, but remember it’s a shell! However, it will definitely “break the wind” so if that is your issue as to your warmth woes, then I guess you’re in luck. Also, the pockets have this knit mesh in them to offset what it lacks as a shell. Kind of a nice surprise. I wore it over a pullover and a hooded sweatshirt and it didn’t feel too bulky or that I was wearing a million layers. Sure, I was swishy, but it was rainy and I would rather be dry than soaked through.

First Ride of the Year & Seizures

I rode my bike for the first time on Sunday since mid-October.

Say what?

Yeah. Really.

freakfall

Original Photo ©Dropout Bike Club

Back in October there was this little event called Freak Bike Fall, complete with freak bike alley cross racing. It was a gorgeous warm day and I dragged myself out of the house, hauled my aching bones onto the tall bike and pedaled my body over to hang out with a bunch of crazy bikers from the Dropout Bike Club and friends. I rode a bit over 18 miles that day and assisted in marshaling the cross race. Pedaling as fast as my little high-heeled feet could get me back to my boyfriend’s work before he closed shop as I was having a little too much fun and lost track of time.

Then it got too cold.

And I had surgery.

And it was rainy.

And cold.

Which brings us to Sunday. 45 degree Sunday. Deceptively blue skied and gorgeous Sunday. I was determined to ride my bike, garshdamnit!

I was concerned about how my VNS device was going to respond to my riding, as a diligent over-worrier and researcher the information stated that it can with strenuous exercise breathing could get restricted during the device intervals. Having been a couch potato for the last 4 months, literally eating potato chips, this was a very real threat. So, I dug through the First Aid kit, found the bandage tape and adhered one of my magnets to my device on my chest.

Why tape the magnet to the device? Because holding a magnet to the device for longer than a few seconds will, instead of activating it, will temporarily turn it off. This will not effect the function of the device, nor seizure prevention.

It was cold and my legs ached. And what I did learn is that I traded the every 5 minute inconvenience of the device going off with the continual inconvenience of my face mask hindering my breathing by the very essence of it being, well a face mask.

I got to work alright, and when I took the magnet off, I learned that the cold rawness of your throat that you get while riding combined with the activation of the device brought on by removing the magnet is really not that fun a feeling. So, if/when I turn off the magnet again, I am going to totally wait until my core temp warms up until I remove the magnet.

I met with my brand new epileptologist the next day. He is very thorough and combined with his use of the word, “optimized,” of which he wants to make me – and his desire testing including a newer ‘sleep deprived EEG’ – and if my schedule will allow it in the future, come into the hospital for a week for an epilepsy lab. That includes taking me off all of my meds and just let the seizures happen. I jokingly asked him if they could run me through rigorous stress testing during that time, because I wasn’t that confident coming into a hospital for a week-long vacation was going to cause me to have seizures. I explained to him my definition of the epileptic “Three S’s.” (Not to be confused with the LDS When Not to Wear Your Temple Garment “Three S’s”: Sports, Sex & Swimming.) Mine are the triggers to seizures: stress, substances, or sleep. My new doctor like my simple explanation so much that he said that he was going to steal it.

Patent Pending. Patent Pending. Copyright. Patent Pending. 

He understood what I was saying and said that after I do the EEG he would check out the results and maybe if coming in for a week wouldn’t work that an ambulatory EEG would be a better idea.

Because wearing an awesome hat of wires for a week wouldn’t stick out like a store thumb. At that point, I would rather go to the hospital. 

Anyway, after we tuned up my VNS device to 1.0 mA he mentioned that if I wanted to hang out until after his next appointment he could give me another boost. I would have loved that, but I had to rush off to work.

And then Tuesday happened. I can’t talk much about Tuesday. Or Wednesday really. I know some seizures happened.

Sigh.

I went to work on Tuesday. I remember that. I had a couple meetings that day, and thank goodness I took notes and did a bunch of stuff where I have footnotes of that stuff, because it’s not there in my brain. I don’t really remember work. I don’t remember Wednesday as well. I slept off and on all day, so there’s that. But I know that I did some stuff because there’s little records of me doing that. But I remember waking up on the couch a little after 8pm.

And that brings us to the end of the week and today. So, it’s a progress. And it’s still a learning one.

Article: BikePortland – “Short on storage space?”

Just a shout out to my good friends Jonathan and Michael over at BikePortland.org! My hard work didn’t go for nothing. I mean, it’s going for bikes and it WILL be utilized and has already made our life that much easier to muck about in the garage. However, hopefully someone else got the organization bug this winter.

bikeportland_20140124

Mostly it’s Portland bike-centric news, but if you’re in the Willamette Valley or along the I-5 corridor they often post tidbits that could effect the area as a whole or might be of interest to you. Racing season is coming up, for instance and we KNOW that’s not focused to Portland! They also cover transportation development, real estate as it appeals to cycling, etc.