PAgent’s Progress

Words Are My Favorite Toys

August 9th, 2006

Commutus Interruptus

I packed my saddlebags, got my riding gear on, and hopped on the bike to ride to work this morning. As I headed up the bike path toward Garden Home, I started hearing something:

plink - plink - plink - plink

Thinking I had a strap dangling in my spokes, I stopped, and checked my saddlebags, looked for weeds and sticks that might be stuck in the rear wheel, then continued on my way.

plink - plink - plink - plink

Okay, the last time I heard something like this, it was because I had a loose spoke. So I pulled over, got my spoke wrench out, and started plucking spokes to find the loose one.

ping! ping! ping! thunk!

Found it! Ah, but it’s not just loose, it’s broken. Snapped off at the head, to be more precise. It’s not flopping around and presenting a danger, but I’m a big guy, and the idea of riding in to work, and home again, in traffic, with a compromised rear wheel did not sound attractive.

So. Home again, home again, jiggety-jig. Took a quick shower, put on clean clothes, and drove in. Now I have to get my rear wheel fixed.

FYI: September is the month of the annual Bike Commute Challenge. As always, my employer will be participating. I must say, I’m in a much better position to take part this year than last.

August 6th, 2006

A Long Ride in the Hot Sun

I went for a long ride today, even though it was pretty damn warm. I went out Hall Blvd., to Durham Rd, then Boones Ferry down to the Tualatin-Sherwood Highway and over to Sherwood. After my traditional rest at the Sherwood Starbucks, I went north on Roy Rogers Road to Scholls-Sherwood road, over to Scholls Ferry Road, and back into town on Scholls Ferry. I saw two different recumbents on the ride.

The Garmin Legend-c GPS that I use as a bike computer was acting up, and it refused to get a satellite lock until I shut it off and turned it back on again. This was well into the ride, so the distance of 23 miles is actually significantly low. I estimate I actually rode 26-28 miles. Go me.

On long rides like this, I have a Camelbak Unbottle that I load up with ice cubes and water. I stick it in my seat bag, with the nozzle hanging out just behind my left shoulder, so I can reach back for it. It is so damn refreshing to suck in mouthfuls of ice water when you’re sweating up a hill.

I only had one close call, where Hall Blvd. intersects Durham Rd. Rather than get into the left turn lane, I decided to just go through the intersection and then turn left. A lot of the traffic there turns right onto Durham, though, so I stopped about three car lengths short of the intersection to let the cars that might not have seen me come up behind them, turn right. After three or four cars had turned, I proceeded into the intersection, thinking that everyone else in that lane had come up behind me while I was waiting, and therefore knew I was there.

It was a bad assumption. A brown/tan pickup accelerated and cut in front of me while making a right turn. I had to brake hard enough to make my wheels squeal, and it really pissed me off. There was no way he couldn’t have seen me. I’d like to think maybe he just assumed I was turning right, but he was moving awfully fast. If I hadn’t been paying attention, I would have run into the side of his truck.

Anyway, the long ride has racked up the muscles in my shoulders, which translates into muscle tension and a blinding headache this evening. Oh, and my legs feel like jelly.

July 31st, 2006

Shattering my Serenity

It was cold, crisp and clear this morning, a shocking contrast to the heat wave we were having a week ago. I rode my bike to work, and it would have been a very pleasant ride indeed, except for yet another ass in a car expressing his hatred of cyclists on ‘his’ road.

As I was coming up Multnomah, some yahoo pulled the old “blast-the-horn-as-I-pass-the-cyclist” trick. Wow, that NEVER gets old. I should point out that at the time I was in the center of a very wide and well-marked bike lane, and was not anywhere near traffic. So this wasn’t about resentment at ’sharing the road’, unless it was resentment that he has to share any road, at any time, with us two-wheeled bastards.

Needless to say, that took most of the joy out of the morning commute. It’s always depressing to be reminded that there are people out there that hate you, even though they’ve never met you.

July 26th, 2006

Even Nixon had to release his tapes

Well, the article on P.K. going on a bike ride was published in the Willamette Week today. It’s a typical ‘bad boy makes nice’ PR piece, and reading between the lines I can almost hear P.K.’s bosses telling him in no uncertain terms he needs to get on a bike, smile, and say apologetic things. Can’t afford to lose those sponsors.

And it’s better than nothing. But I’m still angry. And I still want more. I want the Playhouse to release the recording of the 7/13 show.

Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s great P.K. strapped on a borrowed helmet (which is riding WAYY too high on his head in the WW photo) and climbed on a borrowed bike. If that makes him even a tad more sensitive to the hostility cyclists are made to feel every day that they hit the road, then it was time well spent.

But for me it all comes down to the following excerpt from the article:

PK says he never directly encouraged hatred or violence merely made a poor joke. But he admits the joke went too far: “It was one of those times where you look back and go, yeah, I was an idiot there,” he says. “To the people that were affected by it, I absolutely apologize”

See? it was just a joke. Except the one quote from the 7/13 show that we DO have is: “If you’re a cyclist, you should know that I exist, that I don’t care about you, that I don’t care about your life.” And it seems to be generally accepted that the radio crew applauded the news of a biker being hit by a car.

That doesn’t sound like a joke to me. But, unless we get to hear what was actually said on the air, people will say “Hey, he apologized and went on a nice photo op bike ride. Get off his back. No harm done.” Let’s just move on. Let it go.


I know there are idiots out there that are sincere about their hatred for cyclists. I have to share the road with them. And I know some of them were cheering as they listened to the 7/13 show. It was not, and is not, a joke to them. And it is not a joke to me.

If PK, The Playhouse and Jammin’ 95.5 want to sincerely try to make amends, the first step is a genuine acknowledgment of what was said. And that means making the recording of the program available to the public. Until they do that, they’re just blowing smoke and doing PR.

July 25th, 2006

P.K. hits the road

According to, P.K. (the host of “The Playhouse”) went on a bike ride in Portland with a reporter from the Willamette Week.

The article is appearing in tomorrow’s paper, and you can find the episode of The Playhouse where P.K. describes his bike ride on iTunes (episode was recorded July 20th).

July 25th, 2006

Top 10 Reasons People Hate Cyclists

10) Gasoline is $3.00 a gallon.

9) Chicks dig chainring scars.

8) Fingerless gloves never go out of style.

7) Tired of missing out on all the action that cyclists are getting from Lance Armstrong’s groupies since his retirement.

6) Wish they could get away with carrying a purse by calling it a ‘Messenger Bag’.

5) Jealous of having thighs that look like Virginia hams.

4) Still bitter about losing girlfriend to that cyclist back in high school.

3) Seeing someone having a great workout at 7:00 am makes that Ultimate Breakfast Sandwich taste like ashes in your mouth.

2) Furious at being delayed a good 7.5 seconds on that half-hour commute to work.


1) Everyone wishes they looked that good in Lycra.

July 22nd, 2006

The other side of the aisle, indeed

Why am I not surprised that a Republican blog would come out on the side of The Playhouse on this whole Radio-Cyclist-Brouhaha?

July 20th, 2006

Cycling and Civility

I’m guilty of being a bit distracted lately. If you have been following my Metroblog posts, you are aware that a nationally syndicated radio program said some not very nice things about cyclists last week:

“When I hear on TV that a cyclist has been hit and killed by a car I laugh, I think it’s funny”

“If you are a cyclist you should know I exist, that I don’t care about you. That I don’t care about your life.”

I’m pretty sure worse things were said, including quite possibly an incitement to injure and harass cyclists on the road. But we may never know, as the program refuses to release their podcast of that show.

This program created a real sense of outrage in the cycling community. But in addition to the fine folks that wrote emails and blogged about it, there were apparently quite a few that crossed the line and threatened the radio folks as well. That’s just counterproductive, folks. You aren’t going to convince anybody by making death threats.

Why all the emotion? Well, first of all I can’t imagine why anyone would think it was okay to laugh about a cyclist getting hit. Bike accidents are horrible things, all too often resulting in the death of the cyclist. But this is a particularly sore spot for cyclists because we are the target of harrassment. We’re out there on the road, and there’s no way to know when it’s coming. And nearly every day some car comes over the white line as they pass you, or gives you a horn blast that shatters your eardrums just as they pass. You can get a bit paranoid.

Then someone comes along and laughs about it. And urges others to do the same. Trust me, you get angry.

A lot of the most vocal anti-cyclists are complaining about cyclists that run red lights, weave in and out of traffic, and otherwise drive like assholes. Well, I have a news flash for you. They ARE assholes. I bet when they sit behind the wheel, they DRIVE like assholes. I bet when they’re on foot, they cross against the light and walk in front of traffic. People don’t behave badly because they’re cyclists, they behave badly because they are jerks.

But even jerks don’t deserve to get hit, or targeted for abuse. Saying a cyclist deserves injury because of the way he rides is like saying that a girl who wears a mini-skirt into a dive bar deserves to get raped. “They were asking for it” just doesn’t fly.

Jane Tomlinson of Great Britain has terminal cancer. But instead of laying down and dying, she’s riding her bike across the United States for charity. Unfortunately as Ms. Tomlinson was riding through Lewis, Colorado “the occupant of a pickup truck threw a full coke bottle at the cyclists, deliberately aiming it at them so as to try and injure them.”

And if that wasn’t bad enough, later the same day “the driver of another wagon deliberately made a ‘reckless attempt’ to injure the cyclists by trying to spray them with loose chippings as he passed.”

And cyclists shake their heads sadly at hearing this familiar refrain. And the folks that hate cyclists give each other high-fives.

And that’s why even though the city of Portland has stepped in on this radio fiasco, I don’t think it will make a damn bit of difference on the road. The roots of this conflict run too deep. But at least one radio program knows that we cyclists are angry, and we’re outspoken, and you disregard our rights at your own risk.

July 18th, 2006
July 13th, 2006

Bicycle Bloopers

“Bloopers” is an odd term to use, but it’s as good as any to describe those little crashes, flops, flips, endos, falls, slides, and other incidents that keep Johnson & Johnson selling Band-Aids. It’s better than calling it “Bike Carnage”.

Man, riding a bike is dangerous. Why would anybody want to DO that?

Let this be a lesson to you: ALWAYS wear a helmet. And make sure your kids wear them, too.

And finally, an oldie but a goodie, one of my personal favorite stupid human tricks:

THAT left a mark.