Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Eugene (2016-01-15,16,17)

I took the train to visit Kent, who now works for Bike Friday, and he showed me around town.

For those who are curious, Kent has his own blog, which is primarily bicycle-oriented.

More after the break…

Day 1

After being unable to ride after my injury last Saturday, I was a bit worried about my ability to ride at all. However, I didn't have any trouble riding to the train station to start my trip to Eugene, Oregon.

I had to quickly fill in several luggage tags for my bike and bags, though. After dealing with that time and time again, I plan to get reusable ones before my next train trip.

The train trip itself was pretty nice, as usual. The woman sitting next to me was plenty up for conversation the whole time, and we both ended up getting beers after a while.

After she got off, I mainly listened to NPR on my portable radio. I also found some other interesting radio shows, as one sometimes find late at night.

Within a couple hours of Eugene, the train stopped because someone had heart failure.

Throughout the ride, I kept taking short naps, which resulted in a seriously nasty headache by the time I got to Eugene.

The train rolled into Eugene right before the station closed at 21:00. Thankfully, I was able to get all of my bags mounted indoors, and only had a short ride to the hostel at which I was staying.

The hostel itself was full of hippie stuff, and strongly endorsed Bernie Sanders. I felt more comfortable with the folks there than those back home!

As I hadn't eaten for a good seven hours, I went over to Papa's Soul Food Kitchen for some ribs, baked beans, and boiled collard greens.

That really hit the spot, and I had no trouble falling asleep.

Day 2

The next morning, I woke up an hour or so before my alarm. The guy in the bunk above me was awake, too, and apparently he had a nightmare that caused him to scream in the middle of the night. I didn't notice, but others remembered exactly what he shouted.

However, as it turned out, this hostel's front desk and kitchen didn't open until 07:00. The only thing I could do was kill time.

When they opened up, I was able to eat a piece of fruit I'd brought from home and get a towel to shower. I also chatted with a number of guests and employees of the hostel, including one who was playing Undertale.

With barely enough time to get there, I rode over to the Glenwood Restaurant adjacent to the University of Oregon campus to meet Kent and Christine for breakfast.

While there, we chatted about all sorts of stuff over tea and food. I learned a lot about them, Eugene, and myself.

Christine parted ways since Kent was showing me the sights of the city she'd already seen many times, then Kent and I walked over to one of the local bike shops.

We spent some time in Blue Heron Bicycles, chatting with the owner about a number of things, including the resurgence of the city-oriented bicycle (as opposed to the race-oriented bicycles that are so popular).

Next, Kent and I rode over to another shop a little ways from downtown. The weather turned a bit stormy shortly before we got there, but we didn't have to endure it for long.

Like Blue Heron Bicycles, Arriving by Bike had a large selection of stuff one wouldn't find at many shops like dynamo lighting, fancier kickstands, and high-end platform pedals. They also had a huge Brooks display, from which I bought a tin of Proofide (I'd run out at home recently).

We chatted a bunch with a number of the employees while we waited out the rain. The discussions were pretty informative, too. One of them went on a small rant about how companies think touring/trekking and city bike stuff "won't sell" in the US, and for that reason, they don't bring them to the US. The real reason they "won't sell" is just that: the companies are the ones who won't sell them here.

After leaving the shop, we headed back north toward the Willamette River to ride along the trails that follow its banks.

We stopped for a minute at Alton Baker Park, where a scale model of the Solar System is set up. The sheer vastness of the distances between the celestial bodies relative to their sizes really puts it all into perspective.

Kent noted multiple times that the water level in the area was rather high, which is also indicated by minor flooding.

Lastly, this odd sculpture was in the distance.

From the park, we went northwest along the river.

We stopped at the scenic Delta Ponds, which usually feature a lot of wildlife when the waters aren't so high.

After stopping there, we began to chat more. I heard a lot about past experiences with randonneurs including the somewhat well-known Jan Heine, both the good and the bad. We also discussed various philosophies on bicycles, including Jan's and Grant Peterson's (Rivendell). This discussion was punctuated by a tree that was downed likely during the storm the previous night.

After a little more riding past the tree, we made it to the Center for Appropriate Transport. Unlike typical bike shops, the folks there specialize in building frames, some components, recumbent trikes and bikes, and some clothing (such as rain capes), and fenders. A major goal of theirs is the distribution of tools and machines for making things based on open source hardware.

Jan (the director and not to be confused with Jan Heine from above) showed us into their workshop in the back, where they kept a "fender bender" (hand-cranked machine for making fenders out of flat aluminum stock) and all sorts other projects going. There were recumbent trike projects all over, as well as an electric-assist cargo trike with a canopy over the rider and front-wheel drive. I also had the chance to try on a rain cape, which I've been curious about. Unfortunately, the fabric between my arms wouldn't let me reach my bar-end shifters. I do plan on working out a design with them later on.

We also got to try out Jan's recumbent trike, which was fun.

After we were done at CAT, we headed to the New Day Bakery for some food and conversation.

I learned a lot about some other Seattle-area folks in the cycling world while there.

It was starting to get dark out, but I wanted to see just a little more of the area, so Kent and I set off for the trail along Amazon Creek to see his commute. On the way, we ran into one of Kent's cycling pals who I've chatted with on Twitter.

The trail itself was pretty nice. Kent mentioned here and there about how the underpasses tend to flood and get muddy during the wet season.

The location of the Bike Friday (his employer)'s campus was marked by a bridge across the creek.

We crossed the bridge to get a few photos there, including one featuring "Lake Friday".

This wasn't the end of it, though: we continued west along the trail, which involved a small detour near a disc golf field at the top of a hill.

The endpoint of this leg was very near the end of the trail itself, out in the middle of a fairly empty, grassy area.

Shortly after turning around, Kent spotted a heron on the edge of the water.

After watching it, we properly started on our way back into town.

The route for a while was essentially unwinding our way along the same route, though we used a more direct route as he showed me my way back to the hostel. I really appreciated the help, as it was rather dark at that point.

That night, I just ate a bowl of fruit for dinner and chatted with some of the others at the hostel.

Day 3

I woke up at 05:00 and took a quick shower. Knowing that the kitchen was locked, I sought food at one of the many restaurants and grocery stores, but nothing was open out there other than a 7 Eleven. I tried to down a couple doughnuts to start, but I couldn't get past 1.5 before feeling ill.

When I got back, it was open, so I ate my last piece of fruit to help my stomach.

I managed to get out the door a short while after 08:00, in pouring rain, then rode over to the station. I didn't have to scramble to fill out luggage tags this time, thankfully, as I just left the ones from my train ride to Eugene on my bags.

This train trip was less eventful than my earlier one. I mainly listened to the radio and spent time on my phone the whole time.

When the train rolled through Oregon City, I caught an eyeful of the beautiful buildings and landscape.

At no point of the ride did I have someone sitting next to me, so there were limited chances for conversation.

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