A few more

Some oods & ends from San Francisco while I have time.

Bike lanes everywhere, even though that van is about to pull right into the lane and just about run me over for standing there to take a picture.

The sea lions at Pier 39 were a hilight for me. I could go there every day and just watch and listen. You could hear them over the sound of traffic from blocks away. It was great.

San Francisco was littered with bits of pop culture if you were looking for them. We passed Dasheil Hammet too and I'm bummed I didn't think to take a picture of that one too.

Ah, Nob Hill. The hills in this city pretty much ruined me for the rest of the trip. By the time we made it to Seattle, when we were climbing back up Pike street away from the market, I felt like a 50-year old.

Golden Gate from China Beach. This was in a pretty posh part of town, and even though I don't live in the dumpiest of neighborhoods, I still felt like a hick wandering around taking tourist pictures in someone else's yard. Totally worth it though.

Following up on that hickish feeling, I admit I'm a sucker for a tourist trap bar/restaurant as long as there's a surf theme. Plus, they had Kona Longboard on tap, always a plus in my book. Beer is your friend.

Current beer-scale: 2.1


Portland/Seattle, w/a subtle motif

Onwards and upwards, from San Fran to Portland and Seattle. This leg of the trip was literally awash in alcohol, from the moment we stepped off the plane.

We were greeted in the terminal by a fantastic wall display featuring locally built bikes of all makes and models. The single-speed cyclocross caught my eye.

I totally need one of these.

From the airport, it was downtown while we waited for a former roommate to finish up at the office. I had time to stop at Powell's, which is always fun. No pictures from there though. Once closing time hit, it was off to the roommate's place where I met my new best friend--his kegirator.

We hit it off immediately. The seemingly endless supply of frosty-cold delicious Full Sail Amber was easy to get used to. I could never be a fully functioning member of society with one of these in my house. But since I was on vacation, it was easy to put back 5 or 6 pints each night after we got back from going out. I ended up hiding the bottles of Full Sail we had at the tailgate later in the week so they didn't get instantly consumed. This is why my beer-scale scores have been so low lately, but I'm starting to perk back up. I'm going to have to start looking for it in Chicago while I have time.

Portland wasn't all drinking, even thought it was most of it. On a drive up the coast we stopped in Astoria and Seaside. I believe this is the beach where they filmed the car race at the start of Goonies.

Once it was time to head to Seattle the drinking started back up again, and included some bull-riding Friday night. Surprisingly, it took less drinking than you would think to get people up on that thing.

And as one last blowout, we decided to get up as early as possible to set up our tailgate Saturday. We ended up shopping at about 7:30 and getting to Husky Stadium at 8:00 AM to set up for a 5:00 PM game. Outstanding. We only had to move once, after the head of parking lot security told us his underlings had it wrong and we were in a reserved lot (PS-way to go guy. You're in charge of a parking lot. You've accomplished a lot, and of course that gives you every right to be a dick to people from opposing teams. Now if only your employees knew what the fuck they were doing too, you'd have something to be proud of).

Actually, the same thing happened 3 years ago at the same game, only that time it was other tailgaters suggesting we move b/c we were in this family's spot that's been there for 30 years. That was alright. Security, not so much. Anyway, once set up was done I could head back downtown on the bus and catch a nap before coming back and drinking more.

Our beer depositories on my way out.

5 hours later, but who the hell brought O'Douls?

I have to say it was a lovely tailgate. Especially once the Portland club sponsoring everything showed up and consumed every single remaining beer, liquor, and over 200 feet of sandwiches. I swear, it was like something straight out of the Bible.

The game itself was fantastic, a great way to end a great vacation. Getting up the next day at 4:30 AM to catch a 6:00 AM flight was not fun, but air travel basically sucks anyway so what the hell. It was a wonderful 10 days, and the further into the workweek I get the more I wish I was still out there. I guess that's why you take pictures.

Current beer-scale: 3.2


As much as it sucks to be cold, it's great to be back on a bike I'm comfortable with after spending a day on a crappy Trek. I'll admit I'm going to be snobby about this, but if I'm going to be climbing hills and bridges and then flying back down I'd like to be on a bike I trust. I just don't feel steady on a hybrid, especially one with flat bars and grip shifters. Still, it was a great ride even though I felt like I was going to fall over half the time.

These bikes sucked.

Still, what a great city. The rest of the trip only reinforced my view of Chicago as the best city in the world, but at least San Francisco didn't have me thinking about it everytime I looked around. Fascinating neighborhoods, ridiculous hills to climb, great climate, fresh ocean air, really a great place to spend a few days seeing the sights.

Hills like this

lead to shots like this

There were a few times I had my doubts, but they were rare. Climbing up to Nob Hill lugging the wife's 50 lbs suitcase. Making the 2 1/2 mile walk to Anchor Steam when we didn't really know where we were going. But even both of those worked out. The view from the top of Nob Hill was fantastic, and the Anchor Steam tour was great. The more I think about it, the harder it is to go back to work b/c that was such a fabulous vacation.

There are more pictures of more stories, but they can wait until I need cheering up as it gets colder. Portland/Seattle up next.

Current beer-scale: 1.3


boy that's brisk

Nothing like coming back from vacationing in shorts and maybe a chilly day for a tailgate to below-freezing temps for the ride into work. Outstanding. At least I got to bust out the winter helmet, if not the unprepared winter bike.

I'll post more on this eventually, but that was a great vacation. I found out: rental bikes suck, Seattle really is boring even when you already knew that going in, San Francisco is the home of great butts thanks to those insane hills, and no matter where you're tailgating security guards are always going to be assholes. And yes, there will be pictures. On the bright side, a keg of Full Sail Amber did do wonders for my soaring scores on the beer-scale.

Current beer-scale: 1.4 (I can at least think about starting to drink again)


Yeah, not quite

Yesterday's post about taking Frankenbike out for a test commute might have been a little hasty. The slight rubbing from the morning had become a louder kind of thumping noise by the time I made it home. Maybe the wheel's just out of true enough to really get noisy after a long ride, honestly I have no idea. I straightened it back out eventually last night but don't think I did anything more than how I had it before the test ride. This project really is starting to wear on me.

With vacation almost here (approx. 30 hours away, not that I'm counting) it looks like winter bike is back on hold for a while. There are plenty of things I could use a break from, we'll just add this to the list. I'll take another look at it when we're home again and take another test ride, this time on a Sunday.

In the meantime, I have to get my act together about this trip. Yes I always pack at the last minute anyway, but I have a dog to drop off in the 'burbs tonite and still haven't figured out how I'm getting to the airport tomorrow. Ah, the little things. It doesn't really compare to facebook updates from people on their honeymoon about running to catch trains, but it's still fun and my first vacation in over a year.

"Boo hoo! We had to run with all our luggage to catch a train in Venice! Life is so hard." Cry me a river.

Vacation vacation vacation vacation! Vacation!

Whoa, sorry about that. I think it's as good a place as any to stop for now.

Current beer-scale: 7.1


Well Frankenbike is officially rideable now. Today was a trial run with the winter set up and there were less problems than I expected. The rear tire was still rubbing in one spot and that was damn annoying to hear each time around, but I think that's fixable. We'll see how things go if it rains later today.

Fenders, maybe new reflectors, and that's it. Other than a front-pull lever. And whatever else pops up. Still, I can't help but be slightly surprised it's actually come together at all.

Unsurprisingly, after nearly two-days living the old bachelor life again, I'm on much less sleep and much worse food. The food part is great, the sleep, not so much. I hate the wife's annual conference, even when it gives me a chance to get out of town for a few days afterwards. This year is no different so far, even if it's the lead-in for the first vacation I've had in 11 months. Pathetic I know, but I miss my wife.

Current beer-scale: 5.7 (I'm almost convinced I can start drinking again after Saturday)


driver, bring me another bourbon

Not just un-car-lite, but limo-heavy. Ah the joys of mixing drinks at 50 mph. And then drinking them. If only the photo were a little blurrier, b/c that's how it felt at the time.

It always strikes me as a little bittersweet the day after friends from all over the county have a chance to spend time together, only to scatter the following morning. True the newlyweds usually do anyway, but this time the wife was out to a conference and I'm on my own for a few days so I'm going to mope about it. I'm sure feeling slightly out of sorts after about 15 double jack & cokes isn't helping either.

I can't help but feel a little guilty about cramming 13 people into crazy-ghetto stretch limo and driving to different photo locals as I become more & more anti-car (actually, I feel guilty about a few things from yesterday. seriously, 15 jack & cokes? that's like a case of soda alone. no wonder I don't feel so hot). But hey, it wasn't my wedding and I was just along for the ride. It was fun, and I think I'm going to focus on that feeling over everything else.

Current beer-scale: 1.1 (burp)


I swear to god, sometimes it's like riding to work with a shortcut through an obnoxious asshole convention. Not a good vibe out there this morning. Other bikers running reds, cars jutting through stop signs just as I'm passing in front of them b/c there's a gap in (vehicular) traffic, just all-around unpleasant. Maybe it was the clouds, maybe it was the other Chicago baseball team losing. Whatever it is, I hope it's gone tomorrow. That sucked.

Current beer-scale: 5.1


It worked!

It actually fucking worked!

The winter-bike project had come about as far as it was going to; new tires, stripped down to single speed, even front-brake only with the tire squeezing on. The chain line was better than expected, so was the tension. One problem though, that tire was still rubbing a bit on one side. That's kind of a big problem to have. Technically it should have fit, but the wheel was so out of true it wouldn't spin properly with the bigger tires on.

So what to do? Well, the notches on the edge of the chain tool must be for something right? There are great on-line resources for bike maintenance, right? Why not have at it? If anything, a few twists could save me a trip to the shop or the rather daunting prospect of filing the drops a bit to move the wheel back.
And it actually worked. The wheel spins and stays spinning, since there's no brake anymore. I think I kind of scared the dog I was so surprised. Fingers crossed, this project might be nearly done. I keep moving the goalposts on that "done" part, but a winterbike really isn't any good w/o fenders so there's still at least one purchase left to make.

But for now, time to celebrate with some football and another big blue can of beer. Happy Monday.

Frankenbike votes Democrat.

Current beer-scale: 6.8



One more point in favor of bikes in "bikes vs cars," you can't have a blowout while going 70 mph on a tollroad on a bike. I will admit that was mildly terrifying, especially considering I couldn't get over to the shoulder before it was barricaded by a work zone. So instead I got to plod along at about 5 mph for a few minutes until I could pull over. Called AAA, resigned myself to missing the ND game I was on my way to see.

The tire wasn't just flat, the tread was practically off.
I have to admit AAA was great. Since I was on a freeway I was a "priority" commuter and a truck would be there within an hour. In the meantime, I was free to try and change the tire myself while I was waiting. Which I think I could have done, except for breaking the locked lugnut off the shredded tire. Whoops.

My father-in law showed up as I was trying to get the tire off. I already had the spare off, and had figured the jack out to the point where if we could get the bad tire off we'd be in great shape. I had 4 of the 5 lugnuts loose. The last one was the locked-lug, which I had already handled alright taking the spare off the back of the car. Of course, it broke almost as soon as we tried it.

AAA showed up to help, and broke it more. AAA was just a van at first, since it was called in as a flat even though I was under the impression a truck was coming. No big deal. It was actually less to wait for the truck to come than the van to show in the first place, and the we were on our way. Nothing worked on the busted lug. Pnuematic wrenches, chisels, only worked to break smaller pieces off the lock. Eventually the blowtorch came out, which honestly spooked me almost as much as the initial blowout. We were standing in a gas station parking lot, and all of a sudden behind me I hear this "whoosh" as he fires up the torch to cut the lock off. Fantastic.

But the blowtorch worked, and the bastard was off the car.
All in all, my little sidetrip only cost $50 for the labor taking the tire off. AAA covered the tow, and really the only casualty was a wasted opportunity to see ND beat Stanford. The final timeline:
9:25-blowout on 355 south near 75 st. exit
9:35-AAA called
9:40-10:20-attempted tire change
10:30-AAA shows, gives up, calls truck
10:45-IDOT truck shows up to ask if we're an accident or just flat
11:00-tow truck shows, head to 63rd & Cass
11:45-tire is finally off, spare is on, head back to 'burbs for beer & football
So basically, the slightly unsettling adventure of the morning took just about as much time as it would have to drive to South Bend. By the time I was done I didn't think I had time to make the game, so it was back to the in-laws' for some NBC.

And don't talk to me about how "the same thing could happen on a bike." I've flatted on a bike at full speed a couple of times and it's not even close to same thing. Once was even in the rain on the bike path and it wasn't anything to write home about. This was. The ride to work this morning was worlds calmer than any drive could have been. I keep leaning further and further to the no-car approach. I'm already car-lite, but that was something I would not want to experience again, thank you. So huge thumbs up to AAA, who made a terrible situation that much easier to get over. I did't miss a second of the game, even though it wasn't in person. So thank you, sincerely. AAA is awesome.
Current beer-scale: 4.3, although it's still pretty early.


Holy crap! That was cold.

I don't know how I couldn't have realized that Cubs traffic would be even worse considering the playoffs and the dumb 5:30 tv time. That was my fault. But does anyone think idiotic traffic cops not directing traffic, letting people run through yellow-turning-reds are helping and not hurting? I doubt it.

I can't blame the frenzied traffic pattern though. If I had tix I'd be going crazy right now too, and no one was outright obnoxious other than people caught in the intersection as traffic changed. It's only the first game, and the atmosphere around here is already insane. Lord help us all in a few more weeks.

Current beer-scale: 6.3