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

IMG_4942

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.

1 Year Cyborgversary!

As many of my readers are aware, and many of my friends (if you’re local and read this blog); I find an excuse to celebrate just about anything. This is one of the better reasons. The day I became more than human – when I got my battery pack and brain wires, of course! You can peruse through the entire year’s journey by checking out this subpage.

Just in time for the holidays, I have a new sticker for you! Based on some pretty aggro Portland street graffiti that I did not have any part in, but did write 2 articles based upon. You can view them here and here. There is also a BikePortland article about it here.

Now you can buy a sticker that says what you’re thinking from me!!
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I’d write more, but this video pretty much says it all. A lot has changed in the past year. I went from working part-time and having two jobs to having one awesome full-time job. I got a kitten last December. Been having an awesome 2014. Check out the video!

1 Year Video – Complete with Running Commentary!

Epilepsy Efs Yo Shit Up!

epilepsy_effectsI was contacted a while ago by a lovely lady from Healthline who had visited my site and directed me to a new infographic that their site had put up she thought I might be interested in.

I’ll bite.

This is the perfect time of year to be talking about how epilepsy effects the body. Especially since I am coming up on the 1 year anniversary of becoming a cyborg.

While reading the article associated with it (You should actually read it because there’s hoverlinks and a lot more background info) I found myself nodding a lot and saying, “Yup, I definitely do that!.” Which is why I wanted to share it with you folks in down-to-earth language that we all could understand.

Let’s start from the top.

2013-12-23 13.21.00Epilepsy Fucks You Up in the Head
There are different kinds of seizures a person can have, some causing you to lose consciousnesses and some not. You may be left in that postical state, AKA “WTF happened and why am I so exhausted? And why does my wrist hurt?” Rapid eye movement or staring, very awesome during Halloween, but at other times just unsettling can also be a sign of either having a small seizure or the onset of one. Auras or headaches can be a good tell-tale of the onset of a seizure. Unfortunately they also can come at the tail-end so you can get shafted at both ends. I’m an odd-ball as I have synesthesia disorder as well which is a neurological misfire that exacerbates the whole aura shit. It also causes aural, olfactory and gustatory perception scrambles. Some people call this a phenomenon. I call those people assholes.  It’s probably related to my epilepsy. I’m not a doctor. Don’t quote me on that. They also knock you out. Imagine doing 8 hours of college studying in 30 seconds. All that physical exertion and stress on the body is like running a double marathon. Plus, if you’ve added any anticonvulsant meds to the mix, you’ve tripled that shit. You just want to sleep for three days.

Depression is next, but I want to leave that for another article. I have plans for a whole article about how depression sucks and disproportionately effects those with disabilities. It sucks and for those with epilepsy, living with this disorder can be very isolating.

Epilepsy Fucks You Up in the Body
Epilepsy can fuck with your breathing and your heart. It’s really important for everything, but especially for people who are medically vulnerable to get regular check-ups and to be checked out by a doctor if they notice anything amiss. What might be normal to any normie, might not be normal to a Twitch like me. I have a ridiculously low heart rate to begin with so even things like getting what is probably a seasonal cold needs to get checked out. It could be pertussis, could be bronchitis or pneumonia. Epilepsy is considered an autoimmune disorder. And when I have that and Raynaud’s, and various food allergies, am I allowed to say that I have like 4 autoimmune disorders? I’m like uber-vulnerable to the change of the seasons. Loss of muscle tone and uncontrolled bowels. I mentioned this before. Shit happen. Some types of seizures can cause spasming of muscles tightening or relaxing which can cause muscle strain, falling down and cracking your head open or wetting your pants. You can also break your teeth from clenching or grinding, scratch yourself, bit your lip/tongue/cheek, break your arms, legs etc. Every time I go to the dentist it’s generally to get cracks filled from this type of issue.

The scream. Believe it or not, while not howling and bellowing, I mew. Well, it’s more like a “hmm” I guess. It’s what I’ve been told, because I don’t notice that I do it. I’m told that I make questioning humming, clicking noises and bob my head to the side inquisitively, pre-seizurey. Sometimes it never results in a seizure. It’s just a little tick. I also have myoclonic spasms, so there’s that.

283606_4004000856945_891392223_nAnd pregnancy. I was all, say what? Concerned that I would burst into spontaneous Immaculate Conception the next time I had a seizure, I needed to read further into their page to see what they meant. I jest, though. This was something I knew about for a long time and something I had researched thoroughly. First of all, I want to say that it is absolutely possible to have a healthy, happy baby just because your have epilepsy or a seizure disorder. Second of all, I’m not a doctor and that’s something that you should talk with your doctor with before actually getting down to the dirty. For a long time in my life, I knew that I was not a great candidate for having the little ones. At least not biologically. If I ever, for whatever reason change my mind – it would be a very conscious one. . . because I would have to go ransom it from gypsies or layaway from Ikea. That’s how you do it, right? 

First, I’m on a lot of really horrific chemicals. Medications that I would have to change or discontinue to be able to grow something inside of me without risk of complications like three-eyes or no asshole. (Sometimes not everybody poops.) That would significantly raise my risk of seizures which would then lower their survival risk. That, my friend is the definition of a Catch-22. (Don’t quote me on that. I just make this shit up.) Then, I also am riddled with cysts. Ovarian ones, uterine ones, that weird lump they took off my foot back in winter of 2012, so it really wasn’t looking that positive for me. I also had a huge golfball lump in my right tit, but that was pre-blog. And, non-cancerous. Also, not mastitis. I got to do a 3 core biopsies, though. Because I’m a masochist. I was a great candidate to just close that shit down.

250745_4004212102226_119958714_nAfter a very candid conversation with my ‘Lady Parts Doctor‘ (who also happened to be a woman) we decided that the best course of action would be to proceed with a sorta non-invasive, irreversible, Adiana procedure, which are little silicone pellets about the size of a grain of rice which they shove in each Fallopian tube as well as the Novasure endometrial ablation. The latter was the most important due to the fact I suffered from uncontrollable and painful lady issues. (Which is the nice way of saying I hemorrhaged for seven days straight every twenty-five days, which made me terribly anemic and very sick.) It basically consists of lazering off the uterine lining so nothing can stick to it. Of course there is a risk of an egg sticking to the fallopian tubes, which is why you pair it with the Adiana procedure. Just to make sure the job is done. I knocked this shit out back in December 2011. They had me come back 6 months later to make sure I was closed for business. I apologize if you don’t think that picture is work safe. It is indeed an x-ray of my junk filled with contrast dye. They pumped it in to ensure that it wouldn’t make it past the barriers. NONE SHALL PASS! I got a print-out after I promised I wouldn’t post it on Facebook.

Suckers.

REVIEW: Chrome Kursk Grey Sneaker

2014-10-23 08.26.05You might be feeling a little deja vu if you’re a regular follower of this blog. I purchased a pair of Kursk 2.0 SPD in August of last year and posted a review October 2013. I wanted some some sneakers that didn’t look like bike shoes and they worked great for me. Have been holding up for the last 15 months fantastically.

There’s been a hole in my life, though. I have tons of bike shoes with cleats and I have work shoes. You know, “work shoes.” Boots, heels, slippers and classy shit like that. But sneakers? Ugh. I have a pair of food service shoes and a pair of classic-style black Keens I found in a free box back in 2008. They were brand new when they came into my possession, but I’ve worn them in the mud and all sorts of nasty situations. Plus, as swanky as some Keens are, I personally don’t like rocking the giant toe-bed. Even with my Raynaud’s.

I wanted a sneaker I could wear to work and also on a casual afternoon instead of wearing my work shoes everywhere. It’s about comfort, dammit!

KODAK Digital Still CameraChrome happened to be having a sale recently, and tell you, I love sales. They offer a lot of varieties of sneakers. Not just their Pedal Series, but also a high-top Work Boot, and a Forged Rubber Sneaker. I had the honor of seeing their sneakers being made first hand at Interbike this year. Right in freaking-front of me! I should have bought the shoes there. It would have been more comfortable than the shoes I had been walking around in for three days.

What did I decide on? I think the title says it all. The grey Kursk. They weren’t really my first choice, but it was a sale after all, and I was literally purchasing them in the 11th hour online so my choice was limited as far as what sizes were available. I decided that I would get the same size as the pair I already had.

Play it safe.

I will admit that in the other pair, I probably don’t walk as much as I do in these, but I swear that these ride higher on my ankle because I notice they rub the back of my ankle a bit. Not enough to cause blistering. And with any new shoe, there is always that adjustment period. The more you wear them, the more broken in they become.

At first I didn’t like the rubber toe cover, but as a friend of mine (great mountain biker by the way) pointed out, it will end up extending the longevity of the sneaker and protecting it from not only the weather, but from scuffs and the such.

Oh yeah. Way to be practical.

Other than that, I’ve been wearing them on rainy, rainy days and the Cordura upper is great. It causes the water to bead on top and I haven’t noticed any seepage yet. I’m still going to look into if I should spray-seal it, though. (I use water sealer on just about everything.)

2014-10-23 07.52.29They’ll also super sturdy which is important to me. And light. I wanted a narrower sneaker. Especially after dealing with the Keens for seven years. I’d been looking at a bunch of different brands, going to the discount shoe stores and was about ready to head out to the outlet malls. It just made sense to stick with a shoe I was familiar with.

And I’m glad I did.

Check out their mailing list or FB page or whatever. I don’t know how your get notified of their deals. If you live in Portland or San Francisco (I think they even have one in the Windy City). . . check out their big events. They do cool things, sponsor goldsprints, hire really cool people – yada yada yada. Their bags are pretty cool too. I’ve got like three of them. Shit, if I reviewed all the bags I own, this blog would have reached 100 posts a long time ago.

So get out there and don’t be afraid to splash in puddles this fall.

How BIKELEPTIC Does Halloween: 100th Post Edition!

Halloween has been a huge part of my family my entire life. It’s really bitter-sweet now that I am an adult and we have all gone our own directions and our “haunted house” is no more. I really think the attention to detail and planning is part of the reason why I am as highly focused on event planning and skills management as I am as an adult. I was pretty much immersed in it my entire life.

As a kid, several months before Halloween, the planning process would begin. The theme would be locked in. Carving of tombstones out of huge foam slabs would commence or building elaborate scenes; Mad Scientist, Car Crash, Slaughter House, etc. My uncle, who is a butcher in real life was able to score us a cow carcass one year. It was horrific. During the car crash, we’d take turns splayed out in front of the car, which was pulled up against the front of the house and flail about as trick-or-treaters arrived.

The best part? My parents didn’t set the scene until the day of. Unlike many people’s decor which had been up for weeks before Halloween, my parents would start in the early afternoon and would finish up about the time we were getting out of school so it was a complete surprise for anyone trick-or-treating. Months of planning for about 6 hours of terror.

And my costumes. My mother and I share a penchant for costuming. I ended up working with one of the top five haunted houses in the nation for a couple years doing make-up. I still love sewing and make-up. However, I’m growing up. There hasn’t been a lot of time for all that kind of fun lately.

It was a couple weeks ago when my manager was in my shared office. Her 6-year old daughter was visiting. My manager pointed to me and said, “This is an example of a strong, inspiring woman.”

Ah craparoni. 

The little girl, it turns out is going as Cleopatra for Halloween, which we talked about for a moment. I hope I’m not being compared to her. Cleo and I aren’t even on the same scale. But it really made me think.

KODAK Digital Still CameraI work in an office environment. I also work where I am meeting with clients and I work with veterans. It really seemed obvious what I should dress as for Halloween. Maybe it’s over-done, but I’ve already done Amelia Earheart and I don’t like to do the same outfits twice.

Rosie the Riveter.

Surprisingly, I only had to buy the scarf to make this outfit work. (I’ll be wearing shoes when I go to work.) The idea was to make it appropriate for work, but also identifiable!

For those of you that don’t know who Rosie is, she represents the women who worked in factories during WWII. She was used on both American and British propaganda posters. Nowadays she is used as a sign of feminism and woman’s economic power. This is probably the most feminist thing I’ve ever displayed besides not shave my legs for an extended amount of time or not worn a bra.

Why am I doing this? Because I am a strong, inspiring woman, dammit. And sometimes I need to remind myself of that.

What about some helpful tips for dealing with the holiday?

  • Halloween also sucks for strobe lights. Do we really need to talk about this more. It sucks for a lot of commercial haunted houses, parties and all that. If you’re planning on going out to parties, ask before you go. I have some really conscientious friends that will turn off disco balls and flashy lights. I try not to make a deal about it, but my friends will do it for me! You don’t want to ruin your night by not remembering it!
  • If you don’t feel comfortable going out, try hosting your own party or having an early dinner out at a restaurant that you know is going to be safe. Because of the holiday, it might be a little busy. A lot of people don’t like to cook on Halloween, and this year it’s also a Friday so plan ahead and maybe call to see if you can get reservations. Great app called “Open Table” which can help you out with that.
  • Sometimes just scary movies with a couple close homebody friends and your fav snacks. That’s probably what I’m going to do! There’s nothing wrong with that.
  • If you have kids and need to go trick-or-treating, maybe a costume with sunglasses. A little retro with Corey Hart, but there’s always the Terminator, beach bum, hipster, Geordi La Forge from Star Trek, raver with tinted goggles, welder, hippie etc. There’s a few of the X-Men that wear goggles, but I can’t name them. I find them helpful for lights.
  • The biggest thing is don’t let people tell you that you can’t do something. I love haunted houses and I had a friend walk behind me awkwardly the entire way once and every time we got to strobes he’d cover my eyes and then uncover them when we were in a place where it was all clear. It annoyed the creepy spooky people that were trying to scare me.

Happy Halloween everyone! 

KODAK Digital Still Camera

REVIEW: Twin Six Back Sack

2014-10-23 08.51.04Oregon’s weather has been getting, well. . . stereotypical. One of the things I love about Portland is that it is sunny the majority of the year and everyone can just shove it about the rain.

But you know what? It’s the end of October, and I’ve got to let it go and realize that rain happens. And when it does, it’s a complete shit storm.

I was digging through the closet trying to find a bag I trusted to keep my things for work dry but also be big enough to fit everything and I really didn’t know how much I trusted my own bags. I realize that ballistic nylon IS waterproof but it’s hard to be convinced by it. Plus, my big bag needs to be vacuumed due to cat-love and it’s uncomfortable.

Brad let me borrow his Twin Six Back Sack. If you’ve never seen one of these things before, they are pretty swanky. It was a burly bastard love-child between T6 and Banjo Brothers and this thing is hearty. First of all, it’s waterproof, and that’s no lie. It’s got a completely removable liner inside. Let’s say you want to go to a party and you want to bring an 18 pack of beer. You can load up the ice on the outside of the liner, shove the beer on the inside and away you go. When you arrive, remove the liner, dump out the ice, wipe it out and back to normal. There’s also 2 drain holes on the underneath though, so watch out for butt-drips.

Carried Inside: Five Star binder, box of folders, pen pouch, med puch, Otter Box iPad mini, notebook, legal pad clipboard case, planner & event poster

Carried Inside: Five Star binder, box of folders, pen pouch, med puch, Otter Box iPad mini, notebook, legal pad clipboard case, planner & event poster

The shoulder straps are really comfortable and they’re narrow enough for a gal-frame. As someone that is only 5’4 and smaller (though I do have broad shoulders). Problem for me is that while they do feature a chest/waist clip, my issue with it is that the adjustable-ness of it isn’t that adjustable. It either goes right below my boobs which makes it a sports bra. Actually not that bad if I need to support my backpack and my front rack, but. . . and if I try to move it down to the waist, it pulls the shoulder straps awkwardly. . . so boob rack it is!! That’s definitely a male-inspired feature.

It features a double closure; this inner roll-top with a fold over snap and then the top black flap-snap. There are also a bunch of little hidden pockets right underneath the main flap. I personally wouldn’t put seriously weather-vulnerable things in those pockets, but I am really, really nervous about stuff like that.

This backpack can carry a lot of stuff. You do want to make sure that it’s loaded properly. Heavy on bottom and light on top. I wear my backpack cinched up high on my back so it sits properly with the bottom hitting my butt/small of my back and I noticed if it’s high-loaded, it’s a little wobbly up high.

But that’s my-bad.

Also, if you overload it and it’s riding high on your shoulders like I wear it, you can’t see over your shoulder, which can be a safety hazard.

Major complaint? I wish there was more tie-downs on the exterior that were vertical. For instance, when I’m walking I will sometimes have my umbrella with me. (Don’t judge me.) And when I don’t want to carry it, I can’t figure out how to mount it vertically on the bag so it doesn’t stab people. However, that’s a total whiner thing. I’ve known people that are able to strap bike wheels to it using the internal strap-down and the over-flap as the support straps, so there are ways to get ‘er done.

And because I said it a million times and’ve been good, I’ve been biting my tongue; flap-flap-flap.

I feel better now.

Check it out in person at a bike shop. It’s pretty cool and worth the money!