The weather outside is frightful, but with the right gear and wisdom it can be delightful. This treasure trove of winter weather riding advice was inspired by an email thread from the hardy folks of “Unpaved” — a Google Group and Ride With GPS club that share and ride adventurous routes. It was originally posted in this form by Our Mother The Mountain and has been reprinted here with their permission. (Keep in mind, this advice is mostly tailored toward for big adventure rides, as opposed to commuting a short distance to work.)
Winter riding in the Pacific Northwest can be a uniquely challenging affair. Whether exploring deep National Forest gravel roads, churning out paved base mileage, pounding grimy singletrack, or simply commuting — there are a few universal truths that will hopefully take a bit of the adversity out of the season. Initially compiled by Ryan Francesconi, the following list reflects the cumulative wisdom of the Unpaved community.
This is the latest from our Gal By Bike columnist Kate Johnson (formerly Kate Laudermilk). See past articles here.
A few weeks ago, five determined gals, including myself, joined together at Western Bikeworks in northwest Portland to learn a thing or two about our beloved steeds. The general consensus between us was that we were all tired of needing someone else to do bike repairs for us.
We wanted to empower ourselves — and Tori Bortman was going to show us how.
Bortman is the frank, to the point, direct, and yet entirely approachable owner of Gracie’s Wrench, a business that helps people “get intimate” with their bicycle. She’s a real no nonsense gal. “If I can do this, anyone can. I am not mechanically inclined,” she assured us. I wasn’t at all surprised to find that she grew up in the Chicagoland area just like myself. We’re a unique and hearty bunch with can-do attitudes. The idea that becoming a master mechanic is within reach for anyone was very prominent in her workshop. Making mistakes was encouraged and celebrated and the needs of the those attending far outweighed any prior written syllabus.
An unsafe street that isn’t being improved can be one of the most frustrating experiences in city life. One of Portland’s most thoughtful safety activists has some smart ideas on what to do next.
This exchange in our comments section came from a story this summer about a hit-and-run that injured a nine-year-old girl at North Bryant and Borthwick, on a neighborhood greenway that’s supposed to be free of fast-moving auto traffic but which was, according to a reader who once lived there, built to invite fast speeds. Several readers expressed frustration with the difficulty of getting police to do speed enforcement in a spot like this; one, Kevin Wagoner, said he’s tried calling the city’s official 503-823-SAFE line in a similar situation to no avail.
Here’s Ted Buehler’s response, lightly edited:
This guest article was written by Tori Bortman, owner and operator of Gracie’s Wrench, which offers private and group bike maintenance clinics (and more). Tori wrote a similar article for us last spring, but this one’s new and improved!
Thanks to El Nino, spring has officially sprung a bit early this year. Not that I’m complaining. More long weekend rides, less getting caught in torrential downpours — I’m all for it.
You may be ready for spring… but is your bike?
If you haven’t taken the time this winter to give your bicycle a thorough re-vamp, now is the time. That doesn’t mean you have to go running to the shop. Start slow and bring your steed back to life with some simple steps that will make your next ride practically dreamy.
Perhaps BikeCraft yielded the perfect holiday gifts for every bike lover in your life. But if you need that one last perfect item, check out the book suggestions below — or browse through our Bookstore for even more inspiration.
December 21st is your deadline for shipping via priority mail; or if you’re in the Portland area, you can buy books online here and pick them up at the Powell’s location of your choice. [Read more…]
Several readers have emailed me about this great project from Instructables. A group of students from MIT have created a system that uses a turning bike wheel to charge USB devices. It’s not quite a consumer-ready product yet, but it’s definitely got some promise.
Check it out:
(Photos © J. Maus)
Editor’s Note: This article was written by guest author Tori Bortman. Tori is very active in the local bike scene. She’s a co-host of the KBOO Bike Show, a promoter of bike polo and women-only alleycats, and she’s the proprietor of her own bike mechanic training business, Gracie’s Wrench (which we reported about two years ago and was featured in The Oregonian this past Sunday).
Today she shares a few tips about how to coax your battered bike (and psyche) out of the winter doldrums and into the sunshine ahead!