Friday, July 03, 2015

T-Rex Bike


Yesterday at work Michael showed me a corner of the factory I hadn't seen before, the Bike Friday "Special Projects" area. Some of the items there are things I can't reveal here, but the T-Rex Bike has not only already been seen in public, it's for sale!

Here are a couple of more pictures.



For $2,000 this rideable, pedal-powered T-Rex can be yours. More details can be found in the Craigslist ad here:

http://portland.craigslist.org/clc/bik/5072609529.html

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

My Eugene Commute & the Friendly People of Eugene

My new commute is 2.3 miles and most of it is on the bike path that runs alongside the Amazon Creek.





So far, I've been riding my Swifty scooter back and forth, but one of the perks of working at Bike Friday is that one of my first jobs will be building up my own personal Bike Friday (the company pays the cost of the raw materials). So for those of you wondering if I'm ever going to get back to posting about bikes, the answer is yes. Stay tuned for a whole lot of bike stuff. You may see a lot of stuff involving little wheels and folding bikes, but there will be bike stuff.

But the scooter does make me easy to recognize. This morning on my way to work Sally Hunt called out "Hey Kent!" Sally has been reading my blog for a while, she's a Bike Friday owner (she actually apologized for not being on her Bike Friday today!) and we'd met previously at the Seattle Bike Expo. Anyway, Sally said the blog posts from the tour Christine and I did out to Port Townsend a couple of years ago helped her quite a bit in planning her tour of the Olympic Peninsula and she wanted to welcome us to Eugene. She then presented me with a $25 gift certificate to Whirled Pies, the pizza place right near our new home!


Eugene is a great town and the people here have been so welcoming. On Sunday Alan (the co-founder of Bike Friday) stopped by our place with Popsicles and home-made potato salad to welcome us to the neighborhood. The guy working at the local ice-cream & coffee shop saw the Steal Your Face logo on my cap and told me where in town I could see a free live-stream of the Grateful Dead Chicago shows next weekend.

More later,

Kent

Our New Place in Eugene

We got moved into our new place in Eugene thanks to great help from friends. My pal Michael drove his VW van from his home in Portland to Eugene, parked at our new place. walked to the train station and took the Amtrak up to Seattle where I met him.


We then went to West Seattle where after a several hour delay, we rented a U-Haul. Michael has a drivers license (I don't) so he had to rent the truck.

 
We then drove out to Issaquah where we managed to free Christine and my son Eric from our apartment. The locking doorknob had seized up in the heat but with some strategic field engineering involving a big screwdriver and my Swiss Army knife, we managed to remove the knob and open the door. Michael, our friend John, my son Eric, Christine and I all spent the next few hours loading the truck. If you ever need to pack your entire life into a fifteen foot U-Haul truck, I recommend having friends who are good at playing Tetris. Around 9:00 PM we all went to the Issaquah Brew Pub for some well-earned dinner and refreshment.

Michael, Christine, Inkling (the cat) and I all piled into the truck Saturday morning and drove south. We stopped for a nice lunch at Michael's place in Portland and then rolled on to Eugene.



Our new place in Eugene is a cozy little duplex in a great neighborhood. We managed to cram all our stuff in it, but as Christine pointed out, "we have too much stuff." We really should have only brought two of our comfy bean bag chairs from Issaquah, that's all that will fit in our new living room. We have four. So if you're in Eugene and reading this and could use a couple of really nice bean bag chairs, let me know. Also books, we have too many books. I always say this and I always get more.

Anyhow, no pictures of the inside of our place yet because it's too crammed full and a lot of stuff is still in boxes. But it's going to be a great place for us. We're really digging Eugene so far.

More news in later posts.

Kent

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Walk Score and Our New Place in Eugene

Christine and I used Walk Score as an aid in finding our new place in Eugene. I think we did pretty good. The Walk Score is 77 and the Bike Score is 100. And we're 0.6 miles from Bob's Donuts.


Building a Bike Friday

I'm super busy packing up for my move to Eugene. I'm very excited about my new job with Bike Friday and I found this terrific video that gives a good look at where I'll be working. It's great to see a real bike being made by real people.




Keep 'em rolling,

Kent

Friday, June 05, 2015

Our story thus far... leads to an exciting new chapter.



When I was a small boy growing up in a little town in northern Minnesota, I remember going to the visiting library bookmobile and checking out a book called Curious George Rides a Bike. George gets in trouble in that book by taking the papers he’s supposed to deliver and folding them into boats. I remember being fascinated not only by the bicycle, but by the paper folding. The next week I checked out books on origami from that same bookmobile. Decades have passed since that spring day in Minnesota, but I still recall it clearly. I still love bicycles and things that fold. I also remember that when George crashed and broke his bike’s front wheel, he kept going by riding home on one wheel. That’s not a bad lesson for a little kid to learn.

In 1999 I bought a used Bike Friday New World Tourist at the Seattle Bike Swap. It was green and clever and beautiful and it could fold into a suitcase for easy travel. That same year I began riding with a local group of long distance riders, the Seattle International Randonneurs. Mark Thomas, one of the randonneurs, commented that “that small bike seems to go pretty fast.”

Later that same year after riding a few brevets with the randonneurs, I went east to visit my wife’s family. Of course the Bike Friday came along on the journey.


I got to ride up to Walden Pond, walk on the paths Thoreau trod and see the replica of his cabin. I also met some east coast randonneurs, one of whom convinced me that I should ride Paris-Brest-Paris. In August of that year my Bike Friday and I rode PBP.


In 2001 my Bike Friday and I again flew across the pond and we rode London-Edinburgh-London. In the midst of that ride, after thousands of cumulative kilometers, the Friday’s riser stem cracked as I was climbing one of north England’s many steep hills. In fairness to Green Gear (the folks who make Bike Fridays), the riser stem was my own modification, a piece I’d adapted to make the bike fit me better. Like Curious George, I was able to solve my problem in the field and ride on. I can’t ride a wheelie or go no-handed very far but I can modify and invert a stem riser by the side of the road using a Leatherman tool and a set of folding Allen keys.


In 2003 I was no longer finding middle management in the software field to be interesting or challenging. My friend Mark Thomas noted that if I could get used to much lower wages, I could work as a bike mechanic in his shop, Sammamish Valley Cycle in Redmond. I’ve been working in interesting bike jobs ever since.

In 2005 I became the Commuting Program Director for the Bicycle Alliance of Washington. While I got to do some good work there with various terrific people, I found the one thing I missed in my time there was the mechanical work on bikes.


In 2008 I accepted the position of Shop Manager at Bike Works, a Seattle non-profit whose main mission is empowering kids by teaching them bike repair. The shop is the retail side of the operation and all the monies generated go into Bike Works service programs.


In 2010 the shop four blocks from my home, the Bicycle Center of Issaquah, expanded and a lead mechanic position opened up. I have been working at the Bicycle Center ever since.


In 2013 my friend Davey Oil from Bike Works joined forces with his friend Tyler Gillies to open G&O Family Cycles in Seattle. Since the spring of 2014 I’ve been working there one day per week on top of my full time work at the Bicycle Center. There are multiple reasons for this. First off, Davey, Tyler and Donald (another Bike Works alumnus) are great, fun people to work with. Second, their shop is booming and they really can use the help. Third, the work is fascinating. I get to work on a wide range of cargo bikes, folding bikes and e-assist bikes. Every week a new, interesting problem rolls in the door. Finally, given the skyrocketing cost of living in the Seattle area, I can use the money.


While my wife and I love living in the Pacific Northwest, we are not sure how much longer we can afford to live in the Seattle area. Our kids are now grown and living on their own so we could move without having to disrupt anyone’s schooling. Over the past several years we’ve contemplated moving to somewhere that would provide a good quality of life, decent employment opportunities and a more moderate cost of living. Last fall, on the way down to California for our son Peter’s wedding, our train passed through Eugene. While I had come through Eugene briefly a couple of times in the past, this was Christine’s first exposure to the city. “It looks nice,” she commented. “Yeah,” I agreed. “It’s our kind of place, bike-friendly, not too big, green...You know, Bike Fridays are made here.”

And so Eugene has been on the short list of places we’ve been half dreaming and half planning about. Last week on the Bike Portland site I saw the job opening at Green Gear. I read it aloud to Christine, and we both knew that I’d be applying for work there.

The application process was thorough and fascinating. A big part of the text portion involved writing a brief essay on "how your life has prepared you for employment at Bike Friday and how you see Bike Friday fitting into your life." The letter I sent them was basically the story I just recounted in this blog post.

After a very good phone interview, I took the train down to Eugene and met with many smart, hard-working dedicated people who love bicycles. I spent an entire day at factory learning about various aspects of production, service and support. I got to try my hand at sand blasting and brazing. I was extensively tested on my mechanical, problem solving and communication skills. I was challenged, excited and thrilled by the scope of the whole operation and very impressed by the kind, intelligent folks I met there. Their commitment to the customer and to creating a high quality bike is evident in everything they do. And everyone I met there was very kind.

Alan Sholtz, the cofounder of Bike Friday, opened his home to me. I slept on a bed in the room where all the Bike Friday bags are sewn. For the duration of my stay in Eugene they made sure I was well fed. They also made certain I had some time to explore Eugene and gave me full use of a loaner Bike Friday for the duration of my stay.


Yesterday morning I climbed Skinner Butte and looked out over Eugene, Oregon. It's a beautiful city.


I'd spent the morning wandering getting to know the city of Eugene. It's green and very bike and walkable. It has fine bookstores, flowing water, good places to eat. It's a fine place to live and work.

I took the train and bus back to Issaquah yesterday afternoon. The job offer was waiting in my email when I arrived back in the Seattle area.

Christine and I will miss so many of the fine people and places we've come to love over the past several decades we've spent in Issaquah, but we're thrilled to be starting a new chapter. Starting around the first of July, Christine, Inkling and I will be residents of Eugene, Oregon and I'll be working as part of the service team at Bike Friday.







This is a huge move for us, but one that feels so very right. The important thing in life is to have adventures. This is the start of a new one.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent

Thursday, April 30, 2015

#30DaysofScootering - Day 30 - Hello OLAF, Goodbye McNugget


Last fall I backed the OLAF scooter on Kickstarter. Yesterday, my OLAF Urban arrived.


It's a backpack kick scooter combination. Folded up, it's easy to carry.


Viewed from the front, it looks like an ordinary backpack.


 You can also use it as a wheeled trolley.


The pack has nice reflective bits.


The scooter steers by leaning. It has a little friction fender brake on the back.


The backpack can either be left on the platform while scootering or worn as a backpack.


The pack is really nicely designed. It's got lots of reflective bits, good construction and a nicely padded internal laptop sleeve.



The handle can also be folded down to make the OLAF into a skateboard. I suck at skateboarding.


The handle can extend to three different heights. I prefer the middle setting, but the OLAF should work well for folks both small and tall.

-----------------

I also have to report some sad news today. McNugget the Rooster, a long time Issaquah resident who I've mentioned here various times, was killed Tuesday night by an escaped dog. Details of the tragedy can be read here.


Swifty and I scootered over to McNugget's place today. Various friends of McNugget have set up a memorial there.





The memorial sums it up, McNugget was loved.

2.41 miles of scootering today, so the month closes out with a grand total of 165.87 miles.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

#30DaysofScootering - Day 29 - Another Seattle Scoot Commute


On Wednesdays I work in Seattle. I take the bus from Issaquah to downtown Seattle and then scoot the 6 miles to Greenwood. I always budget some time for wandering around.


Quite a few geese make South Lake Union their home.



There are always interesting vessels at the Center for Wooden Boats.




Seattle has many fine book shops. It's still too early for Ophelia's to be open, but I like to see what they have on display.


This looks interesting. I should stop back another time.


The climb up Fremont Avenue is slow going, but there are interesting things along the way.






When you're going slow, you have the time to notice more.


A lot of the bikes I work on at G&O are big cargo bikes, but some are small, like this Brompton. Note the auxiliary kid seat. 


This bit of wisdom is printed on the end of a Faraday Porteur box.


Here's another Brompton. They're very nice little bikes.


Tyler is putting one of the cargo bikes to good use.


After a full day at the shop, I roll back toward downtown.


Construction cranes are the defining feature of the Seattle skyline these days.


But there's still only one Space Needle.

12.88 miles of scootering today, bringing the month's total to 163.46 miles.