Two Weeks Past

James and I have returned from the depths of southern Oregon—Ashland. Cool town, nice friendly people, pretty easy getting around via bike, the weather was decent, could have been better/warmer/dryer. Getting to and from Ashland could easily have been more convenient; never had either of us had such a difficult time getting somewhere with our bikes. The irony in this is, of course, the fact that UBI, one of only two bicycle mechanic training facilities in the country, is in Ashland.

The two weeks started off with our traveling to Portland for the Filmed by Bike show. This was, as always, a good time. I wasn’t really up for Friday’s Midnight Mystery Ride, but evidently I was up for something on Saturday night. Being that we were staying in Portland until Sunday to travel to Ashland, we enjoyed the Saturday viewing of the show and were invited by Ayleen, the Rev. Phil, and others to have a smaller “ride” for some lively party action; we ended up on “Pirate’s Island” where evidently I was nearly beheaded by a flying pallet without even knowing it. Good raucous times. Ridiculous. Needless to say, the drive via rental car to Ashland was quiet and subdued.

The following two weeks were spent attending the United Bicycle Institute where we took part in the Professional Repair and Shop Operation class offered there. Barring the results of our tests, we will be certified bicycle technicians. (We’ll be getting our test results back in the mail sometime next week.) As far as the class went, it was pretty cool.

UBI “training” facility. Some other photos of the classroom can be found here.

We never did actually find out what that old shack was all about, I can only imagine the relief of the instructors when they got promoted from gravel and rusty nails to clean linoleum. The instructors were all-about cool guys, knowledgeable and very helpful. The other students were also about what you’d expect, cool bike enthusiasts; the several we hung out with were all really great people. I’m happy to know I made some friends out there. It was great meeting you all; you too Raul.

The schedule of the class was eight hours, probably about half hands-on, half lecture. At times the lecture grew tedious, but that was really just the factor of the clean and organized walls of tools tempting us to use them. I’m no stranger to most of these tools so that wasn’t the most exciting part; actually learning an exact methodology on using them accurately and precisely however was. Some of what I’ve learned up to this point has been learned through trial and error, a new level of precision has been added to my quiver of mechanical skills. As one fellow student put it, he no longer is the monkey with a stick working on bikes. I’ve also added a level of confidence, especially when working on newer bikes and components (10spd, hydraulics, suspension, etc.). Granted I do still reserve the right to break out the kung fu hammer and “cold-set” some steel when I need to. Calculated persuasion sometimes comes in handy when dealing with less than high-end parts.

The trip back in Glen’s over-loaded and over-weighted car.

With this added confidence, completed curriculum, and hopefully certificate, I’ll have luck in continuing this line of work for years to come, wherever I’ll be (that town the horses race in in Kentucky is next). Because I really do enjoy wrenching on bikes and I’ve been itching to get back to it at Wright Bros. since about Tuesday of last week during class. Who knows, maybe I’ll have my own shop one day somewhere. What kind of bike shop? Like mentioned in the class, the mom & pop shops are disappearing, being replaced by “retail establishments” that sell bikes. Not sure how I feel about that myself, I guess time will tell.

On Our Way

Yep, we’re heading down to Portland for the weekend (do it!) for a great time, and then James and I are cruising down to UBI for our stay in Ashland. I’m just barely set to go, a few more things to pack up and such. One thing I’m set on is toiletries, just last weekend at the Dead Baby Office Chair Downhill I ran into the fine gentleman Joby who was kind enough to share with me a brand new “In Flight Shoebag Amenity Kit” I’ll be sleeping with American Airline’s style in my bunk at the CycleHostel in Ashland: eyeshades, earplugs, & socks after just using the included toothbrush, plastic toothpick and likely towelettes…. Thanks Joby!

The site might be a little quiet for the next couple weeks unless someone lets me use their iPhone to post UBI updates of course. I’ll probably have a good deal to share about UBI when I get back so stay tuned. Being away for these two weeks will also prevent me from shipping out magazines, feel free to order them while I’m away, they’ll ship out immediately the day I get back.


There’s many things to look forward to moving to a new city. The research done prior to relocating is usually pretty exciting too; learning from afar about things in your potential new home town. When I moved to Seattle some eleven or so years ago, I didn’t do much internet research, even if I had, I wouldn’t have had the internet of today: Google Maps, unique and descriptive blogs, so many ways to find information. My initial research those years ago made me think it’d be no problem riding from Fauntleroy in far West Seattle to the University of Washington. Sure I could do it now, but back then, I had no idea what the terrain and streetscape was like between those two destinations. The AAA map I had of the city didn’t describe true enough what the route would be. I moved to Seattle nonetheless—albeit never to West Seattle.

Looking into other cities nowadays is pretty easy; and one of the things I’m looking into is the bike infrastructure and culture of cities other than Seattle. Finding this video was remarkably satisfying and entertaining:

From the TARC website.

Finding an equivalent of Seattle’s Bicycle Master Plan was also very appreciated. It’s all in context of course, but positivity goes a long way in my book. A program labeled the Bike Friendly Plan is something I’d put my energy into. It sounds welcoming and encouraging as opposed to the iron fist of a master plan. This might, or might not, just be one of those greener grass issues. We’ll just have to see won’t we?

Big Dummy Build

Wright Bros has been fortunate enough to get a Big Dummy to work on. It’s a rad little (but big) machine. The second we threw on the wheels it reminded me of some low-rider Harley or something totally badass. Maybe it was the tires, maybe it was the fresh black powdercoating. I don’t know, but this bike is made to haul some loads. I’m actually tempted to try to get one myself.

After the requisite frame prep, so far we’ve put the wheels and discs on it, as well as the crankset and bottom bracket and are wondering if those too cool tires might be a bit too big. The Surly folks say 2.5″ tires are copacetic, but it seems as though we’re going to have to do some spacing magic to prevent the chain from rubbing the rear tire.

So far these are the photos I’ve taken of it. Isn’t the new powdercoat a nice look?


Hopefully the bike’s owner will bring in the rest of the components (handlebars, stem, etc.) so we can finish the build before I take off for UBI. Hopefully: because I’m dying to test ride it.


Clinton Street—April 11

If there were any doubts as to the urgency to get down to Portland next week for Filmed by Bike then dash them now! I just received an update telling that there will be on-street parking for your bicycles attending the show. Evidently this is attributed to Kryptonite, and I’m anxious to see how they’re pulling it off. Will it be valet service? or actual racks to lock to in place of where cars park? Either way it’ll be a welcome change from previous years of FBB and the tangle of bikes found on trees, posts, and random piles. I guess the entire south side of Clinton Street will be designated for bike parking. It is really better that way, I agree!

Also at Clinton Street Theater, before and probably during the show, there’ll be a collection for used bike tubes. Alchemy Goods as most of us might be aware constructs their bags by reusing bicycle inner tubes. (These guys got mentioned briefly in a past issue of Cranked.) Bringing some of those tubes laying around your house, your shop, in your bag would be better than letting them find their ways to a landfill.

And yet another reason to get to the show—beyond the sure to be awesome bike related films—is apparently a dance troupe by the name of Hoop Shine. Hula hoop dancing only at the 9:00 Friday show.

Filmed by Bike is going on for the greater part of the weekend, make sure you get there for some part of it at least; the opening night throwdown of course is when the big excitement happens. Make sure to check out their site for the latest info, details, directions, and all that.

A Little Bit of Poetry

Some of you might remember the article found in issue five of Cranked titled the Bicycle Driver. Well there is a developing organization called the Bicycle Driver Training Institute, BDTI that is working to promote these cycling tactics.

Among his many other activities (cycling, tai chi gardening, beer brewing, etc.) Graham Cooper, drafted this poem:

On the road in traffic,
maintain your position.
Be predictable,
not erratic.

Signal your intention
to change your position,
by turning your head and
lifting your arm.

You must be aware
of blind spots
in the mirrors of other drivers.

You must behave
as if you are a driver.
You are NOT invisible!

Try continuously to see
the surface of the road,
looking for potholes, slick paint, rail tracks, obstacles,
as well as the flow of traffic.

See, hear & feel.
Observe everything,
but avoid distractions.
Don’t use an iPod.
Be present and alert always.

Change to a low gear
before you come to a stop.

Your front brake is powerful, use it
as you shift your balance
backwards and down.

Your back brake
will skid the rear wheel,
if you squeeze too hard.

Above all,
cooperate with others.
Practice harmony,
but be ready to respond

Do not be afraid.
There is nothing to fear,
but fear itself.


I’ve just finished reading a good book. At the end the author mentions being held back on the sidewalk by a passing Critical Mass in New York, and describes the pleasure it gave her to witness such a grouping of citizens. Exhibiting freedom. Lately I’ve been considering freedom and independence and how the bicycle has given me more independence from so many things than just about anything I can remember.

I haven’t been to a critical mass here in Seattle (or anywhere for that matter) for quite a number of months. Other circumstances have prevailed in priority, but honestly I allowed it to become less of a priority because how I felt the last few times I had ridden in it. I was left with the feeling that something was skewed. Something didn’t taste right about it, there were other motives within it; a feeling of redemption or vengefulness throughout it; maybe just a sense of too much bad attitude. Perhaps just my perspective, but nonetheless I stopped going for the time being. The feeling of freedom as the book’s author described was no longer there for me for some reason; I’d like to experience it again, I’ll make it out to another critical mass here soon. The positive feeling of the ride is usually great; it shouldn’t be tarnished by ire or inappropriate violence. The assembling for critical mass is awesome in it’s celebration of bicycles, but maybe it should also be a conscious celebration of the assembly itself?

How has mass been these past eight or nine months? here in Seattle? or in your city?

Also, if you get a chance to pick up that book—The End of America—do so. The copy I found had written in it’s front cover: Read & Pass On.