Bike mechanic school done

photo: Portland Central Library.  It reads, “Most of all remember this.  love you.”  

I would argue that peanut butter is a solid and not a liquid. Although I am not one to argue with a TSA agent. They already let me through security with a plane ticket with the wrong name and a duffle bag that likely should have been sent to checked luggage. I am not sure what I was typing when I entered my contact information but my name says Liane followed by II, in the middle. User error, typo. Obviously it does not match my driver’s license. Thanks JetBlue and PDX TSA security for letting me pass go.  
My duffle technically is the measurement of a carry on and it probably can be squished into the carry on display, but hauling 30 lbs through security is challenging and I have two zip locks bags of lotions, potions, and a regular size toothpaste 3/4 finished. I apparently wasn’t thinking at all when I packed. Hopefully I’ll use it all before the return flight.  

It was a great, productive week, 5 days, 40 clock hours of introduction to bicycle maintenance. I learned basic skills in wheel truing, derailleur adjustment, brake adjustment, maintenance, hub, headset, bottom bracket adjustment, overhaul and tune up procedures. Some of my new education may not stick but at least now I have a solid vocabulary. I can say I need a 1.1 mm shifter cable instead of the thing that connects the thing.  

My informational interview at OHSU was disappointing. I didn’t like meeting with the admission counselor. I think I was standing in her way and the weekend. I know one person should not cloud my judgement but I am thinking an accelerated Bachelors is not the right route for me, nor is Portland the place I want to be for the next few years. I will think about it some more.  

Onwards to Alaska.  

Wrenching 101

  
I still don’t believe I am really into bikes. I’m not nerding out or do I think I am a bike snob, (despite the fact I secretly judge people by what kind of bike they ride). Last week when a date told me he owned a hybrid, I am pretty sure I rolled my eyes. 

My class is composed of 20 students, 3 women including me. The majority of us are not local, and the majority are 40+ years old. Seated to my right, is an officer who patrols the Golden Gate Bridge. He works preventing suicide attempts on the bridge for over 15 years. He sometimes bikes 9-5 back and forth across the bridge; the other days he is in the office. To my left, is a counselor from San Diego who works with female prisoners leaving the facility and the deaf population. He wants to start a bike inmate program. Other people in the class, two officers from CT, who were sent to the class because they will be managing their fleet of patrol bikes. One guy, like me, rode across America, on the Trans Am route and is taking a short break in Portland while his wife is taking a week long yoga class. Interesting, like minded people.  Mostly this program is geared toward the bike enthusaist.  The professional course with certification is two weeks.  

The instructors are fantastic, patient and very knowledgable. I’ve already been corrected on many things that I thought I knew how to do but have been doing incorrectly, like properly lubing a chain, patching a tube or changing a flat without using levers. I’ve learned many new things too. This week, we will learn how to take apart and put together the entire bike.  

Day 1 – wheels, hubs, tires, tubes

Day 2 – pedals, cranksets, bottom brackets, gear ratios, (demo on bleeding hydraulic disc brakes)

Day 3 – derailleurs

Day 4 – rim brakes, disc brakes

Day 5 – headsets, handlebars, stems

It’s a lot of information in two days and I’m not sure I am ready to practice on my own but it is really fun to learn and play.  I feel more confident in identifying tools and knowing how to use them properly.  I am looking forward to buying my touring bike in the fall and building it up from the box myself.  

Vegan soaps

  
Portland has an amazing array of seasonal, organic, local, vegan, gluten free, and farm fresh cuisines and products that would make you think this would be a good place for me but the lack of diversity is overwhelming. I have not felt racism, like I was told to expect, but at the same time, the whiteness here is isolating.  
The majority of people are young, white, hipsters. People who ride fixed bikes, wear skinny jeans and flannel, drink lattes or home grown beer. It’s not a stereotype when it’s true. Everyone is into sustainability.  

I do not want to be in a place for an extended period of time where I am the only person that looks like me.  

Photos: a mural in the intersection to highlight to drivers to slow down, children in the neighborhood.  

Portlandia, day 1

I checked in my duffle because southwest airlines allows for two free bags checked in and I didn’t think I would find overhead space because I had checked in late. Southwest, for those of you, who have not flown it in a while, does not assign seating. You board based on your check in time.  

When I arrived in Portland to collect my bags at baggage claim, I could not locate my flight. I did not see any flights from SF. Wandering around the SW luggage carousels, I realized I had flown from Oakland. It’s not like flying from JFK or LGA (which are both NYC), it’s OAK or SFO and they are different cities.  

I went to the information desk at the airport, like I do at every city and asked how to get to my destination by public transit. The red line from the airport is a rail line, and $2.50 adult one way or $5.00 for a full day. Seniors are called “honored” citizens. I kind of like that. Portland’s public transit system is very inexpensive. For a monthly pass, it is half of what we pay in SF.

Disappointingly, the information guide obviously does not take public transit and he sent me to take a bus line that only runs M-F. Fortunately after 20 minutes of waiting, I realized the problem and went to find another route via google maps. 2 buses later, I made it to my home for the week. I am renting a Airbnb bedroom in a family’s home, using their’s sons’ bedroom while he is away at college. 

Activities for the day, picked up rental bike and explored town. Portland has 5-6
bridges that cross the river, all serving different purposes. The newest one, opening in the fall will only be accessible for trains and people, no auto crossing.  
I biked across the “steel bridge”. Trains on the inside, multi-use path on the outside. Rolled through the Saturday market which is supposed to be a artisan ware, but found it to be touristy, small and too crowded. I swung by the famous Voodoo donut shop, but a line 30+ deep isn’t worth a few hundred calories. Visited Powell’s city of books, which is the largest independent bookstore, probably in the world. I loved the used books were sold next to the new books. President Jimmy Carter gave a talk at the store last week. I found myself in the travel section looking at a book titled, Newcomer’s guide to Portland. I’m not yet a newcomer but may be interested in becoming one. I loved the travel writing section, bookshelves and bookshelves of stories about wanderlust and exploration.   Then biked to the International Rose Test Garden, which is 4.5 acres of roses. Portland is known as the city of roses.   Finally, I made my way to Pioneer Square for my two hour best of Portland walking tour. I learned some fun facts, like Portland’s water is soft water without fluoride, from snow fall from Mt. Hood. Portland does not have fluoride in their water because all the microbreweries said it would fundamentally change the taste in their breweries. Interesting priorities, better health for your teeth or economics? Second, interesting fact, Portland has the largest concentration of food carts- kind of like SF’s food trucks scene but they seem to be more permanent. I learned many interesting things about this small city of Portland and looking forward to exploring.

    
Steel bridge

    
    
    
    
    
    
    
Historical museum, Lewis and Clark, his slave, York, his new foundie dog, and guide, sacagawea.

City Hall community garden, kale and chard   
Free electric charging stations, for those people who drive elsctir  cars.  

Pioneer square, fun display.    You could take a picture pretending to be a track star, running out of the starting blocks.

Carry on luggage

  

Photo: carry on backpack with helmet. Security guard at check in asked me what I ride.  I judge people by what they ride and I no longer want to claim I ride a carbon bike with 20,000 miles on it.  I want to say I ride a steel touring bike (but haven’t bought it yet).  It’s a different style.  It’s like saying you own a Audi vs a Subaru.  Maybe I can be both.  Maybe next time, I can say I ride a lot of bikes.  

My duffle bag weighed 30 lbs at the security check in. Granted, it is filled with some snacks for the week but those cannot weigh that much. I usually like to travel with my base camp duffle because my logic is you can only bring what you can carry but 30 lbs is a lot. I am thinking about making the transition to four wheeled carry on suitcase. I gave away my last carry on suitcase when I stopped working years ago. I have resisted for a long time, the thought of buying wheeled luggage. A duffle represents off road. It can be hauled through dirt, on the backs of animals. I’m not traveling that style this week but I still like the thought, prepared for an off road adventure.  
I packed hiking boots, slippers, and flip flops… Justifying each one. I was hesitant to pack the slippers but my airbnb host said to bring them in her instructions for the house.  I packed a rash guard, board shorts, and bathing suit for jumping in the river or the potential to kayak among glaciers.  

I brought my helmet and bike lights. The rental bike shop probably has those items to rent but mine are better. I am renting a bike to see what it might be like if I lived in Portland, biking to get around. I hear Portland is flat, looking forward to no hills for the week.  

I packed a small first aid kit, travel lantern/flashlight (for the car), warm hat, brimmed sun hat, and head lamp for hiking. I didn’t want to bring them but I felt it would be irresponsible to hike without them. Then various lotions and potions related to being outside: bug repellant, after sun aloe, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, after bite lotion. Not sure if any of these will be useful in Alaska but again, the girl scout in me wanted to be prepared.  

The remaining items are clothes. Perhaps I could have brought fewer clothes or been less prepared. I did not bring a water filter or knife but thought about it. I have no itinerary for Alaska yet except flying in and renting a car.  

SFO-PDX-ANC

I sent a text message to my friend in the late afternoon, “I have a week off in August, do you have time to take off from work? I’m thinking Alaska.” She replied, “I can meet you there for a weekend.” By the evening, I had booked my ticket to Anchorage, Alaska from Portland, and although I will not attempt to summit Mt. Denali, I hope to be in the grace of it’s presence.

I sent her a reply in the evening, “See you in ANC on August 7.” How many of your friends do you speak with in airport codes?

I sent another friend a message, on the return flight thru SEA (Seattle). I have a layover and hope that she has the morning available to hang out with me at the airport.

After booking flights, I proceeded to post a message online looking for a person to sublet my room for 2 weeks to help offset my expenses. Instantly this evening, I received an email with a perfect match, someone looking to sublet an apartment for the same time I will be away. She needs 2 weeks before she can move into her new apartment. She sounds like a great girl, from Maine/Seattle, Master’s degree from NYU and loves the neighborhood, living by the park. I am continually grateful for all the stars aligning with my wishes and I continue to find creative ways to net zero.