South Salem Cycleworks, 4071 Liberty Road South
Salem, OR 97302-5752
(503) 399-9848
Hours: Monday - Saturday 10 AM to 6 PM; Closed Sunday

June 15, 2017 (updated March 17, 2018): I'm off the bike for now, or "The Summer (and Fall & Winter) I Didn’t Work in a Bike Shop!"

Shop owner Michael Wolfe was diagnosed with a recurrence of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma in June. On this page he has been chronicling both his treatment and his life on the bike and in the shop.
Posts on this page: Original June 15 post explaining Michael Wolfe's diagnosis and initial treatment for Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Posts on this page: March 17, 2018 update|January 15|January 11|December 28|December 17 & 20|December 15|December 13

Previous posts: October 12, October 24, November 13, November 17, November 19, December 5, December 11

Still earlier posts: June 19, June 20, June 25, June 30, July 21, August 19, September 17

March 17 update. It’s been 6-7 weeks since I fell off my bike, and I’ve got another 5-6 weeks before I can I can put weight on that knee. Doc says that this fracture is better known as a “bumper fracture” since it usually happens to pedestrians being hit by cars!

Crocuses are in bloom and fading, daffodils are starting to pop, and my folks put out two flats of primroses. Tis my favorite time of the year for riding. I’m sure the lambs are scampering and playing out in the farmlands, and the temperature is the warmest it’s been in four years.

The only silver lining in this cloud of inactivity has been the time spent cleaning, identifying, and posting the accumulation of vintage parts for the gallery. If I were on my feet, I’d be involved in working on bikes, and interacting with customers, not organizing the vintage stuff!

Michael Wolfe

I'm a bike guy, so this is what I do when I can't ride or repair bicycles.

A second lining, even more exciting to me, is the possibility of getting a hip replacement on my right side. Even when the experimental bone graft was done decades ago when I was in 7th grade, it was not close to perfect, and now walking three blocks is a challenge. Riding a bike puts a hitch in the upper stoke of the crank, invalidating a smooth rotation, and I find myself tipping my pelvis to the other side to allow that hitch. It gets painful finally, and was fully disclosed a year and a half ago when I rode to the coast and back. I could only manage 50 miles a day, and at mile 30 was popping Advil. I did a lot of unnecessary stops, using the pretext of taking photos as well. The trip was 200 miles, and while I had the dream touring bike frame being re-done down in California, I wondered if it was all futile. With a new hip, that window re-opens, and I have hope of experiencing long miles on roads I’ve not explored.

Thursday, the 15th of March, I had a knee checkup, where I was asked how my physical therapy was doing. What? No, no, it’s right here in the doctor’s notes that I was to begin 6 weeks ago in early February! Fell thru the cracks! I’ve got a lot of catching up to do! I have assembled the LeMond trainer that has existed in its box for the last three years at least. I’ll get some help in attaching the bike to it, though I’m sure I could do it, it’d be far easier and faster with help! Raise the seat to astronomical heights to avoid bending the knee too far and get on with it! Supposed to use the brace to move about with no crutches in the house, they’ve expanded the range of motion to 30%, but still, I believe the stationary bike will cure all! To heck with physical therapy!

I did get out to see MAMILS, a film about Middle Aged Men In Lycra, with employees. Amusing, at times inspiring, stories of, for the most part men, and their addiction to riding bikes. Some disgruntled wives/boyfriends, most content with all the supporting medical documents of how cycling prolongs one’s fitness astoundingly beyond what age takes out. Doubting Thomas/Thomasinas take note! One wouldn’t want one’s loved one to outlive you!

Had a PET scan on Wednesday, but haven’t heard the results yet. Should be clean, right, as otherwise we’d be getting ready for a visit to OHSU and a T-Cell treatment.

Heading back up to Portland Monday the 19th for the hip consultation. Would like to have heard about the PET scan results, as I doubt they’d undertake both.

January 15 update. Picking up from the end of the January 11th update, nearly 13 days since I crashed near the summit of Skyline, most of them spent horizontal or close to it.

On the day of my crash, Di retrieved me, but Angela drove me down to Salem Hospital's ER. Getting in and out of her car was just as restricting as my experience with Di' s rig. We arrived at about 2pm that Saturday, and after Angela found a push chair, we managed to get me in it. The foot rests were designed for folks with shorter legs and bent knees. I was able to hold my injured leg up using both arms, but felt like it was the extended lance of a knight. It was, of course, more a threat to me than any passersby or other obstacles.

We checked in, but it was a very busy afternoon, and I knew we were in for a long one. I encouraged Angela to go home, as this had become nothing more than a waiting game, but she didn't feel she'd accomplish anything there, either. She played with her smart phone, and while I'd had the presence of mind to bring a book as well, I couldn't relax.

After getting my vitals checked, they wheeled me out to a quieter waiting area. The main room was filled with folks fighting flu and colds, and with my blood counts being so low, they wanted to lower my potential exposure. The new room was far enough removed that they no longer felt I needed to wear a mask either. With a nurse's assistance and two pillows, I was able to make comfortable use of a couch, easing my arm's tension of holding up my leg.

Normally, I would have been reading a book, but the disappointment I felt in having misjudged my ability to ride over Skyline, and the position it now placed me in, left my mind awhirl. If I had been more conservative and shifted to my inner chainring a little further down the slope, "chickened out", my pride would have suffered. But I would have "lived to ride another day", or in this case, the next sunny day. Having failed to ride to the top is worse than having succeeded in the climb by shifting to the inner ring. But at the time I felt I could power myself up the bump.

They eventually took me to have X-ray's done, only to return me to the waiting area. My knee would not readily conform to what the technician wanted, and I apologized several times when I gasped at unexpected pain. They couldn't reveal anything when they were through with me, of course.

After what seemed an interminable amount of time, they came and got us to take us to a room. And again, it took seemingly forever before a doctor arrived. He examined my knee and after consulting with an oncologist, removed 90cc of blood from the hematoma behind my patella.

He explained that the X-rays revealed no breaks or fractures, but that there was tissue damage. He also mentioned a bone fragment that was floating around in there, but because of the rounded edges felt it had resided there for many years. He ordered a knee stabilizer and asked me to set up an appointment with Kaiser Permanente orthopedics. A tech came later and gave instructions for the knee stabilizer, along with setting up a pair of crutches for me.

It was almost 10pm, and except for a light meal Angela got from the cafeteria, I hadn't eaten since having the Cliff bar sitting at the B & B. I knew most of take-outs we favored would be closed. I thought DQ might still be open for a fish sandwich & onion rings, but they were closed as well. Jack 'n' the Box was open, however, and I had a Sriracha burger and onion rings. And yes, I had a painkiller for a nightcap.

I had to wait 'til Tuesday to call KP for the orthopedic appointment, the closest being the 10th of this month, nothing sooner. I knew Salem Hospital had sent the report and X-rays to them, and hoped that the appointment wasn't just a time for them to go over it.

I don't know if they'd looked at them prior, but on the 10th, the doc ordered an MRI, explaining that we would do a Skype-type video conference the following Wednesday, the 17th, on the results.

Oncology had loaned their wheelchair, along with Eric who helped get me out of mom's van, for my orthopedic appointment. Eric was pretty insistent that I made sure it was returned to oncology, which I assured him it would. Even after the consultation with the orthopedic doc, the assistant reminded me. I had to go upstairs for a blood draw yet, but I promised her it would return.

It was awkward parking the chair for the blood draw in a space designed for a swivel chair, but we managed. As we got out of the elevator, Jill from oncology greeted us, saying that she'd been selected to be the muscle for re-inserting me into the van.

Jill, who'd been in sunny Mexico this past week, asked what I'd done. I told her that I'd convinced other members of the oncology staff, Lisa, Lucy, Steven and Brian to meet me in Roberts, and that we'd pedaled our way up to Croisan Creek and then climbed the Kuebler hill to Skyline KP . . . She didn't buy it of course, and I relented, telling her it was near the Summit of Skyline. She said she'd heard it was on Liberty, and I asked her to please correct whomever she'd heard that from, as that was too embarrassing!

Surprisingly, I received a call that evening for the MRI appointment for the following day. I explained I had a brace on my right knee, and asked about having a wheelchair available. She replied that I should come in early for removing the brace, and that this building had no wheelchairs, but I could find one at the main building. I was a little concerned because we hadn't found one today.

My folks picked me up the next day, and with Trevor's assistance, inserted me into the van again. I went in the front door, sliding my butt onto the fully reclined backrest, Trevor lifting my non-bending leg and arcing it in as I allowed space for it.
It had been raining hard, and I tried to get a sandal on my right foot but it was too swollen. But we did get a bread bag over it, and avoided soaking my sock. I'd decided to use my crutches to get in the MRI building rather than spend time looking for a wheelchair at the main building and then slogging back in the rain. But when we approached the site, it had a long flight of stairs, intimidating me until I saw the ramp against the building. The crutches worked out fine until we entered the reception area, which was smaller than our bathroom, almost. The woman behind the desk found me and handed me a clipboard to fill out. She asked if I would be more comfortable in a wheelchair!?!

I said yes, and she wheeled one out of the room behind me. It had the foot rests, but not the leg rest. I'd done without a leg rest so far, but only by lifting the braced leg with both hands to find a comfortable position or to avoid resting it on the ground.

I learned it would be a half hour, or more, because of late arriving patients, and attempted to rest my leg on a chair, which didn't work as it supported my heel, not my calf and knee. My arms wouldn't hold up for half an hour, so asked if there was a folding chair I could slide in place, and off she went.

She returned with a plastic, rectangular, waste basket and turned it upside down, slipping it and a couple blankets beneath my leg, leaving me comfortable enough to read my book.

When the tech arrived for me, the transition was pretty short as I'd dressed for the occasion, having had an MRI before. He was careful in assisting me on to the "bed", and in removing my brace, which I had been dreading.

He gave me a pair of ear plugs after encapsulating my knee in a two-piece block with lots of small holes in it as well as short tubes protruding from it. It wasn't as scary as a bed of nails, but I was surprised to feel no discomfort when it was secured.

He wheeled the "bed" into the recess, and after he left, the machine began flashing lights and making periodic weird noises. If a witch doctor had had access to such a device, he'd be a wealthy business person.

The show was so distorted, with periods riffs right out of ZZ Top or some other band, suddenly shifting to periods of dead silence or arbitrary singular eruptions of differing tones and volumes. I never felt startled, glad to have the ear plugs, but perhaps riding in traffic with honking horns, screeching accelerations, and the exclamations accompanied by the universal "I'm number one" digital display, has built me a higher level of immunity. The accompanying whirr of the machine, rising and falling, gave no clue to the progression of the 20-minute exposure, and sudden dead silence could be followed with any form of immediate noise.

So, it was with surprise when the tech appeared, informing me that we were done. I told him my knee had spasmed three times, but he didn't think it'd affected the images. The transfer back to my brace was painless, but the tech informed me that the MRI had revealed a fracture in my tibia, and I was to avoid putting any weight on it. The doc, who had encouraged me yesterday to begin weight bearing, would call me later.

I was soon back in the tiny reception room where my folks waited. It was raining, and I was careful going down the ramp on my crutches with my plastic bag serving as a rain boot on my still swollen right foot. I remembered in junior high having the confidence of using crutches for three months, placing them in a puddle of water intending to swing to the other side, only to have the polished concrete allow them to slip and pitch me unexpectedly to the ground. Nothing was damaged, and perhaps the shock prevented me from feeling any pain, but I'm sure I had bruises afterwards.

I certainly didn't want to impact the fracture in my tibia, nor stress my bruised rib cage further. I made it to the van without mishap, and Paul did a great job of guiding my braced leg as I re-inserted myself in the van.

After returning home, regaining my seat in the recliner, I had two phone calls asking me to not put weight on that leg, and that the doc would be calling me sometime tomorrow morning between office appointments.

He must have had a busy morning, as it was afternoon before I received his call, which was to explain that I had a fracture of the tibia plateau, the interface with the knee. He agreed it was most likely due to my top tube slamming into my knee as opposed to a twisting action in freeing my cleat from the pedal. No weight bearing for 8-10 weeks. I neglected to ask about the nature of damaged tissues, I realized after hanging up. He'd scheduled a live conference using computers for Wednesday the 18th, so I decided to wait.

Today is MLK day, the 15th, and I've received a phone call informing me that the computer session is cancelled and the doc would like to see me on Thursday, the 19th instead.

I've had a couple of dreams where I'm riding my bike, and it's certainly a downer to awaken and realize that's not going to happen in the near future. The last dream I had was on the Ryan, the bike I crashed on. Somehow, even though I'd descended Vitae Springs, it was just as I began the descent on Orville, that pulling the brake levers to the bars had no effect on the disk brakes. Fortunately, I was able to assess this before picking up any speed and steered the bike into the grass on the shoulder. I woke up, not knowing what happened after that. Not sure what it means either.

January 11, 2018 update: 'Twas a week ago, Saturday, that I set off with Tom to climb the backside of Skyline. I'd ridden Summit Loop on Monday, Christmas Day, on the Ira Ryan, ready to dump the chain into the inner 30-tooth ring, but found, even on the "bump", the 40/34 ratio was adequate.

What I should have remembered, was while climbing over Val View behind the Turner post office in the 40/26, a few weeks ago on the Farewell Mondonico, being interrupted by the sudden realization that the "bump" required lower gears than the 39/26 I'd ridden in the past over this climb. My good fortune being that with no cars present, I was able to zig-zag on the roadway and drop the chain to the inner 26-tooth ring, where it remained while I stood all the way to the top.

We left the shop more prepared for cold than rain. I rode the Ryan, despite its 25lb weight. This was because of its lower gearing and Tom was on his Torelli Gran Sasso. Tom, wishing to favor his injured knee, had visions of uninterrupted pleasure on the beaches of Mexico during his impending month-long stay. He opted to abandon me and ride back up the less challenging slopes of Liberty Road.

Tom seemed to be moving quicker than I, and I was several bike lengths behind him by the time we reached the Sunnyslope Shopping Center. But he slowed as we made the turn onto Skyline and I caught up. I stayed with him, making the light at Kuebler, until the final grade to Vitae Springs, where I began to lose ground once more.

Nate had pointed out that the road I'd discovered, "Inwoods", began at the end of Newberry off Skyline, before descending to Vitae Springs. I had every intent of watching for it on Vitae Springs, but Tom took off like a rocket and suddenly my focus was to keep Tom and his injured knee in sight.

By the time I reached the top of first climb, which offers a fine view of the land along the Willamette River, Tom was out of sight. It was only after descending thru the twisted gully that I glimpsed him cresting the next grade. Of course, by the time I reached that crest Tom was beyond the Riverdale turnoff, once more engulfed in the descents and twists of the road.
I passed thru the corner where Vitae Springs becomes gravel and continued down the pavement, now known as Orville, " 'Orrible Orville" to those climbing up it.

The flash of seeing Vitae Springs gravel reminded me of riding up it on the Ryan in a dread-sweat for fear of falling over on the graveled incline some years ago.

One more crest, and I began applying the brakes on the final pitched descent to River Road.

When I moved back to Salem in '81, I took a part-time job at Monmouth Cyclery, owned by Nelson Sherry in his just-beyond-teens. I rode Vitae Springs/Orville each day I worked for him on my Eisentraut with Campy Super Record components, downtube friction shifters, toeclips & straps, and only a cycling cap sans helmet. I had a 42/26 ratio. Once out of the saddle, the only way to change gears was to find a level enough piece of ground to allow myself time in the saddle to reach the shifters and ease the tension on the chain. I didn't worry about this, as I really didn't need to be in anything other than my lowest gear! To disengage your cleated shoe from the pedal, one had to momentarily coast while "thumbing" the release on your toe strap. Some evenings after a particularly long day at work, I'd ride up Orville with only one strap tight, trying not to weave on the "bump" of the climb. A few years later I met an Italian cyclist who climbed Orville on his 42/21 and I was quite jealous.

As I picked up speed and alternately braked, I remembered Nelson telling of his entering the final hairpin with too much speed, crashing into the blackberry vines. And also the rider on one of our Saturday morning rides, surviving this descent on his Bianchi Pista in a fixed gear with no brakes, laying down skid after skid!

I'd ridden down this hill on my fixed Jamis Sputnik using a single-pivot front brake and many times since on my Mondonico pista, marveling at the improvement a double-pivot front brake makes. I've steered my old double-diamond Rodriguez tandem down this grade and was even more impressed after replacing the Nuovo Record single-pivot calipers with Athena double-pivots!

One cold and potentially slick, morning, Tom and I were noisily passed by a car going too fast on the upper portion of Orville. We cautiously continued the descent, warily watching for rivulets of ice crossing the road and as we entered the hairpin, we found car off the road facing us. He'd slid into a 180 and the shoulder wouldn't provide enough traction on that grade to get out, even with the limited assistance our road cleats could provide! We had to leave him to be saved by some other heroes!

A few years ago, a freight truck got stuck in the railroad underpass, and the operator of a towing service decided to drive his vintage tow truck down Vitae Springs/Orville as a more direct route. The brakes failed as he began Orville's descent, but he was able to control his speed by keeping it in a low gear, until the hairpin at the bottom. There he, like Nelson on his bike, plunged into the blackberry vines and then ploughed down the embankment next to the railroad underpass.

This time, on the Ira Ryan, I quickly slalomed down the remaining descent, only to be tailgated by a truck, unable to pass me because of the twists in the road offering only glimpses of itself. The speed we traversed those glimpses eliminated time to make critical decisions. I swept thru the hairpin, reducing my speed also in preparation to make the abrupt left turn onto River Road. It was clear, and I rode off thru the railroad overpass in pursuit of Tom.

He was dawdling near the vast overstructure of Kiwi vines that we'd wondered the nature of until Claudia informed us about them. Tom then resumed his pace, and then dropped me going over the bridge, again waiting for me on the other side, down the road a bit.

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the Santa Dragon flattened behind the parked car but hurried on to greet the other one. Once we turned off onto Buena Vista road with its fewer cars, I had the time to ask Tom if he was pedaling faster than normal as I wished to conserve my energy for my climb. He seemed surprised at my question, and offered to slow down. But I let my pride tell him to continue on, making no effort beyond sucking his wheel the rest of the way into Buena Vista.

Nothing new greeted us, the "converted-able" Isuzu Trooper was still perched down the embankment, the water tower showed no signs of any holiday activities, and the pavement on Wells Landing was smooth as ever. The Santa Dragon was waving its wings, but the Cinnamon Bear had abandoned him, taking his rocking chair with him. Perhaps they played parts in wacky version of "A Christmas Carol", the bear representing the past, and the dragon, the future. Or, as I'd thought the first time I spotted the Santa Dragon, perhaps this home just has an affinity for dragons, and we'll see a Valentines Dragon! Maybe the Thanksgiving Dragon was too much of a "turkey" to reveal, and the Chinese New Year's Dragon required too much acreage!

Butterfly fountain

No dragons, but there was a butterfly

I stayed on Tom's wheel, losing it a couple times when he unexpectedly rose from his saddle, shifting afterwards to a taller gear. I'd mimic his actions, but lag on my part. I certainly didn't want look like the remnants of a team time trial. We swung off Wells Landing onto Buena Vista once more, where I deliberately cut the inside corner, knowing the former chip seal would suck at my tires, along with my energy.

I stayed with him as we passed the shoe collection fence, and turned down the lane to the B & B. Claudia wasn't there, but I persuaded Tom to stop, not only in hopes of her making an appearance, but also wanting to take a break in preparation for Skyline. I offered Tom a Cliff bar, but he'd eaten so many on a volunteer program with some Pueblo Indians, that he hoped to never eat another!

Buena Vista B & B

Stopping for a moment at the Buena Vista B & B

Buena Vista B & B

Looking out from the B & B

After finishing off my bar, we arrived at the ferry waiting on our side for once. I'd neglected to bring any money, and hoped I hadn't forgotten anything else in my nervous preparation, but took care of the monetary transaction with the attractive Captain Mindy. Tom regaled her with tales of his impending stay on Mexico beaches - food, drinks, paddle boarding, and of course, the change in weather and temperature. He was interrupted by the arrival of a sedan, but I was pretty sure he wasn't going to convince her to quit her job and accompany him and Carolyn, his wife!

Tom and Captain Mindy

Tom and Captain Mindy

River view

A look at the river

River view

A fine day to be outside

The red car had been pulled from the river two days earlier, we learned. The earlier car with the elderly woman had been pulled the day following its submergence, in daylight. I wondered why Marion County was so quick to pull cars from the river, when the Mustang on Parrish Gap has been for a year, as well as the Isuzu on Polk County's side? Perhaps water quality restrictions?

The ferry gate went down on the far side of the river, and I was waiting for the sedan to leave first, when Tom, tired of waiting, sprang forward and rode up the ramp. Not sure of what the driver's reaction would be, I hesitated, and just as I initiated my departure, the sedan lurched forwards and crawled up the ramp, with me on his tail. I hoped he wouldn't stall, forcing a critical decision on my part, but we both made it to the top without further confusion.

Tom was idling at the intersection with Talbot Road. Without much discussion we proceeded thru the windbreak of trees onto the open farmland along the road. I pointed out the Target freight truck pulling onto the farm's drive ahead. We'd wondered if it ever moved, though I've always been surprised by the absence of bullet holes in the Target emblem, unlike the deer and cattle warning signs on rural roads like this. Some just can't resist taking aim, remembering my riding to high school one morning and seeing the arrow protruding from the dairy cow perched above the former Hancock convenience store.

We passed thru the intersection with Wintel with its the line of intriguing, older cars. Once across the railroad tracks we agreed to take a final pee break before attacking our chosen climbs. Tom wished me luck on Skyline, and I bet him he'd be back in town before I was! I caught a last, fleeting image of Tom's backside retreating towards Liberty hill before crossing the canal and turning left on Sidney.

Railroad tracks

A stop by the railroad tracks...

I was passing a pullout, listening to the agitated honking of geese and noticing how high the water in the flooded field had become. Two vehicles had parked there, and not wishing to get into an extended conversation, I pedaled on. I did stop where the road separates the two ponds to take pictures, but there were no geese! The ponds, named River Bend Reservoir #2, eventually drain into the Willamette River to the north.

It was along this stretch of the road, one cold and sunny morning, with Katie, an employee at the time, on the back of the Rodriguez tandem that we picked up some abandoned LP records, still in their jackets. We managed to fasten them to the rack. Of course, we made fun of when we returned to the shop. They were Country/Western. It had been years since I'd seen LP's by the roadside and I haven't seen any since!

I didn't get out of the saddle on the grade where Sidney becomes Riverside. And approaching Ankeny Vineyards at the top, I was intent on taking a picture of the chickens in their pen near the road. I'd almost rolled past, when I spotted them huddled in a narrow swath of sunlight. But the sudden screech of my disc brakes scattered them into the brush and shadows, their feathered topknots bobbing like those of tribal warriors!

I resumed my ride, passing Bunker Hill road, where years ago, I led a Saturday morning ride down it. The road has short sections of pavement, followed by extended pockets of loose gravel. At the bottom you must ride the washboard before reaching Riverside. No one appreciated that ride, braking heavily on the strips of pavement, but having to gain speed in the gravel to maintain stability. There were a lot of tired fingers. . . And then there was Aaron Allen, Tom's stepson, who sped off on that descent to show us the invincibility of youth, and then his naivete as we rounded a corner to witness his immersion in the blackberry brambles. Aaron, to this day, doesn't recall this ride . . .

Shortly after I built the Ryan, I was setting in the studs on a new pair of tires, having dreadfully climbed the gravel portion of Vitae Springs, I attempted to climb back up Bunker. I'd heard of some who'd done it on mountain bikes. I made the attempt, but I didn't get much beyond the washboard before my rear wheel began to skip. I re-mounted and rode back down. Someday I'll try again on the Ritchey P29'r--wider tires, lower gears!

The amount of recent rain still wasn't enough to spill out of the pond and turn the waterwheel, but I was ready to take a picture if it had. I may have one, but whether it's film, digital or mental, I couldn't say!

I did take a picture of the surging current running through the slough, adjacent to the river, just a little further down the road. And then I was at the foot of Skyline, where I stopped to stuff my jacket in my seat bag, attach my mitts to outside of my seat bag, unzip my jersey and stuff my winter cap in my jersey pocket. I hoped I'd taken off enough to prevent a sweat-soaked climb!

Skyline Road

At the foot of Skyline Road

I found myself almost immediately in my 40/34 ratio, alternately standing and seated in the saddle, a little alarmed but remembering many times standing all the way to the top in a 39/26. I was wary as I entered the first turn of the hairpin, watching, and waiting for a potentially slick section of pavement or an accumulation of loose gravel, that would allow my rear tire to break loose, but nothing transpired. I entered the second curve swinging wide, giving myself room to ease to the centerline if needed.

Tom had taunted me when I was first riding my Jamis Sputnik fixed gear into riding it up Skyline, using a 42/21. Going through this hairpin's second corner, I found myself hugging the inside shoulder, praying that a car wouldn't come down the hill and force me to crash off the road! Counting each pedal stroke, mentally monitoring each arm like the second hand of a clock, I was aware that I would fail to disengage my cleat and fall over. The patron saint of cycling must have prevented any downhill cars that day, and gave me a ghostly push over the final bump at the top!

Skyline Road

Blue sky, and it's January in Oregon

Today, on my Ryan, staying on the outer shoulder, it was quite a push, and I gratefully eased myself back in the saddle, still in the 40/34 and wondering if the incline would allow me to "spin" instead of "lumber", without resorting to the 30t inner ring.

My concern was that it seemed, despite the lower gearing, that I was having to stand in exactly the same places on the climb as I have riding a 39/26 in the past. Indeed, just as the first driveway appeared I resorted to standing up once more. Occasionally, I would regain my saddle, but there was no "spin", and as I neared the "bump", I dallied, weaving across my lane, and contemplated using my inner ring.

I didn't have much time to choose, only a few pedal revolutions left on the lesser incline and when they ran out, I threw myself onto the "bump" determined to carry as much momentum upwards as possible. I passed the driveway on the right, studied the rivulet of smooth pavement for any traces of slickness, rolled into it and out. But to my surprise, within ten revolutions, my right pedal froze at high noon and I commenced to fall over on the drivetrain side!

My right hip was the first part of my body to land, and an arrow of pronounced pain provoked a muffled grunt from me, eclipsing the following encounters of my body and bike imploding on the shoulder of the bump. My first reaction was to get up and off the road before any coming-up-the-hill vehicles failed to avoid me!

Neither of my shoes were still attached to my pedals, but as I attempted to raise myself, my full focus was diverted to a rebellious right leg! Having sat down quickly, after encountering the resistance, I could see that the bike's top tube might have encountered my knee upon impact. I successfully got to my feet this time, though it seemed my right knee went thru a series of gyrations before stabilizing. I'd texted Nate while assessing myself, but it was still 300 yards to get to a level spot at the top in the sun.

Unable to bear full weight on my right leg, I used my bike as a walker, side stepping like XC-skiing, locking up the brakes to drag my right shoe thru the leafy debris on the shoulder, I'd have to periodically pause, either because of a twinge of pain, or sheer exhaustion.

Nate texted back that Di was on her way to get me, but I continued dragging myself up that slope to find a safer place for her to rescue me. I could see the low white fence on the far side of Concomly, and my butt was promising my tired shoulders and my stressed legs relief, if I could but get there!

Crashed bike.

Waiting for Di. This wasn't the plan when I started the ride.

Di arrived with granddaughter Yuki before I reached the fence. She easily loaded the bike into the back of her car. But without the bike, I was immobile, and she had to maneuver her rig so I could hoist my butt onto the seat. We flattened the backrest so that I could scoot further in, allowing my reluctant-to-bend leg clearance to get in as well. Di did a great job swinging it in without any gasps on my part, but I was gritting my teeth in preparation.

In response to Yuki's questioning me, I had to reply that "Yes, I'd just fallen off my bike!", when really I was pretty anxious about what I'd done to my knee in the last half hour.

Thursday, December 28 update: Sunday, Christmas Eve, turned out to be wet, overcast and cold. I went down to the shop to wrap some presents and search for some quill stems for a customer. I did get back home in time for the gathering, snacking on Christmas offerings and drinking beer.

On Monday, Christmas day, after opening presents, I headed on down to the shop to prepare for a ride over Summit Loop. Couldn’t talk Tom, Nate, or Trevor in accompanying me. There was a layer of floating ice in the birdbath, and I thought that perhaps I should mount the studs on the Ryan. And while I spied some mini-icicles hanging from parked cars, the road was dry.

Christmas fog inf ront of shop

A little Christmas fog in front of the shop

Well, until I made the turn onto the cut-thru to Kuebler! The sidewalk is buckled directly in front of the pathway, and the low side of the buckle has a railroad tie running adjacent to the path, which angles down to Kuebler. I gave my handlebars a hoist, lifting my front wheel over the sidewalk, but the rear wheel intersected the buckle higher up, and then slid sideways on ice. My front tire hit ice on the pathway itself! I managed to correct the bike in both instances, but rode it into the flower bed along the pathway!

I walked my bike down to Kuebler, but the sun had already melted any ice there. I was wary when I crossed Kuebler and entered the bike lane, as it frequently has heavy frost on it, so possibly black ice could have awaited me. There wasn’t any and I made it to the shop without further incident, other than finding an inundation of fog upon reaching the Sunnyslope Shopping Center. Oh, I was sure that when I returned this direction, I’d be leaving the fog behind.

I decided to risk riding the Ryan without studs, hoping I wouldn’t regret it. Summit Loop tops out at 1,000 feet, and the shop lies at about 450 feet. Initially, I was going to use a rain shell for an outer layer, looser fit with more room for standing on the pedals while climbing. I changed my mind and put on a winter jacket that is waterproof, but not seam sealed. And glad I was that I did! I didn’t get cold, and I didn’t overheat riding out to Summit Loop.

Approaching Summit loop

Approaching Summit Loop

Approaching Summit loop

Another shot of the approach to Summit Loop

Approach to Summit Loop

Time to go up

I made the turn off Liberty Road onto Radiance Ave. and there it was! Another Santa Dragon! I must get out more, but I didn’t see any later in “The Last Jedi”, the latest episode in Star Wars that I viewed Christmas evening! And there were plenty of unusual creatures in that!

I meandered thru Creekside, exchanging “Merry Christmas’s” with a jogger, passed Stuart Coffey’s former residence, where I’d enjoyed a few delicious after-ride-baked goods, courtesy of Barbara, his wife, and turned onto Sunnyside, beginning the long incline to Delaney.

Despite the fog, I felt strong, just spinning along, not wishing to push myself before Summit. Not much traffic out, due I’m sure to late nights and present opening activities. There was a light tailwind that assisted, but that didn’t change direction as I found on my return trip! After making the grade to Delaney, I began the descent on Sunnyside, watchful for frozen rivulets that didn’t occur, and conscious of the possibility of black ice on the bridge over Rodger’s Creek at the bottom of the descent. Climbing up to the Cloverdale overpass, I became aware of the I-5 traffic, which perhaps was amplified by the balaclava and winter cap I was wearing. It seemed like the freeway was totally full, going both directions!

Cloverdale Xreek

Cloverdale Creek was lovely.

I thought briefly about taking Ridgeway Drive instead of Cloverdale down to Parrish Gap, but decided to err on the conservative side, saving my energy for Summit Loop. The sun had come out again and Willamette Vineyards tower was ablaze in its light.

But before reaching Parrish Gap, the fog had enveloped me once more. While the view to the south on Parrish Gap didn’t reveal fog, it was certainly overcast with low lying clouds. I thought about taking the north entrance of Summit Loop, with its two bumps instead of the sustained climb with one bump of the south, but I really hate running brakes for nearly two miles coming down the south side to a T-bone intersection with Parrish Gap. I thought about taking a picture of the signs showing “cemetery” and “dead end”. Somewhere, there is a picture of Tom Mundal with his bike at this site.

Low Lying Clouds

Low lying clouds

I passed the Mustang car, still entangled in the brush off the embankment of the road, and contemplated whether I should remove some clothing in preparation for climbing Summit Loop. I removed my heavy mitts & winter cycling cap, stuffing them into my seatbag, just prior to turning up the south entrance. I should have stopped and taken a picture from the bottom, but I didn’t want to lose any momentum! I was prepared to dump the chain into my 30t ring if necessary, but wished to stay in my 40t in conjunction with my rear 34t cog.

My heart jumped for just a nano-second when my rear tire skipped over a pebble, fearing it would be black ice that I’d encountered. I was careful the rest of the climb, but never felt the need to dump into the 30t ring, though I wondered about the “bump” I would encounter after cresting the sustained climb.

There were a couple of horses waiting at the end of incline, and when I attemped to disengage my right pedal, it wouldn’t! I tried my left, and couldn’t release it either! Thankfully, the mansion’s entry had a stone column separating the arrival/departure lanes, and I planted myself on it to release the left pedal. I turned around and soft-pedaled to get pictures of the “studs”!

Summit Loop Studs

I did get the pictures of these good-looking studs.

I turned once more and lost some momentum getting clipped in and found myself in my 40/34 before hitting the bump! I was out of the saddle immediately and was anxiously waiting for another tire skip the entire climb of the bump! It didn’t happen, and it was with relief that I settled back into the saddle again.

I’d gotten above the fog, but as I made yet another turn and began another sustained climb, the fog was waiting, but it seemed to climb up the hill as quickly as I and never materialized. Having learned how difficult it was to get out of my pedals, I did take a couple of pictures with my smart phone on-the-fly, weaving from one side of the road to the other.

Summit Loop near top

Near the top of Summit Loop


For sale: This could be yours.

Nearing the top, I noticed the two donkeys, and as I slowed, they began moving closer to the road. When I reached a level spot I managed to release my left foot and circle back to get a picture of them. Returning to my goal, I did have to dismount and take the obligatory picture of the summit, where I also regained my winter cycling cap and heavy mitts.


My photogenic donkey friends

At the summit

Nearer still to the summit

At the summit

And at the top

I worried a little about the descent as it was on the north side of the hills, hidden from the sun. But once more, I found no frozen water or ice. It’s amazing how little time it takes to descend Summit Loop, compared to climbing it. Before I knew it, I’d exited onto Parrish Gap and was headed home.

PArrish Gap

It seems like it's always lunch time for some of Parrish Gap's woollier citizens.

I’d intended to return the way I’d arrived, but decided to take Parrish Gap/Battle Creek instead as a change of scenery. The last time I took Parrish Gap I was astounded at the volume of traffic, making it pretty unpleasant to ride on. It left me feeling sad that there was one less road to ride a bike in peace on. I encountered some cars, but not a steady stream, and had to take a picture of a stand of logs waiting to be picked up, something I hadn’t seen in many years.

Ogs left

Logs waiting to be picked up

Willamet Vinyards

The grapes have been harvested and the vineyards made ready for winter.

I noticed that my fingertips and toes were feeling a little nippy, and somewhere to the left of the small of my back, was a cold spot, but it was getting later in the day and I was riding into a headwind as well. I was pleased to reach the shop, and its balmy 55 degrees. I hurriedly changed my clothes and made my way to Tom’s annual Christmas party, albeit a little late!

Relatively speaking, riding Summit Loop has got to be one of the best Christmas gifts I’ve ever received!

Sunday, December 17th & 20th updates: One more opportunity to ride before Christmas. Tom met me at the shop, but we didn’t get started ’til 10:30 because I texted him instead of calling him to let him know I was ready! The text took 15 minutes or so to reach him, and by the time I called him, it had just reached him! Ah, technology!

Initially concerned with Tom’s knee, I’d suggested we ride down Liberty and take Winter Creek to come back on Parrish Gap, with less steep hills. But as we reached the Skyline intersection, Tom opted to head out Skyline and try his knee again on the route that had bothered him last time! He was pleased that it didn’t bother him when we reached the bump before Concomly/Chinook Estates, and sped on down the back side of Skyline before taking the right on Riverside to Independence Bridge.

Independence Bridge

The view from Independence Bridge

Tom was riding his Torelli Gran Sasso with fenders, and I was riding my Farewell Mondonico with fenders. We had matching gear ratios, but neither of us opted for the inner chainring on this ride. I did find the time to switch out my wheels for the ones with the Campy Cult ceramic bearings, having added a couple drops of Dumonde Tech regular lube to them, and felt that, again, the bike just seemed to move along with less resistance.

Now, the next thing to do, sounds blasphemous, is to replace the Record pulley wheels with some Tacx sealed bearing ones. I can tell a difference when I’ve installed on customer’s bike in the work stand, and some have told me that they’ve been able to climb hills a gear or two taller as a result!

I kept up with Tom, even riding beside him much of the time. I did let him leave me on the bridge, as I wanted to use my smart phone to get a picture of the river and compare the quality of the photo with that of my older camera. The camera will never be replaced for on-the-fly shots, but during winter, almost every picture requires stopping and taking off mitts anyway!

When I rolled off the end of the bridge, where Tom was waiting, he pointed out another Santa Dragon across the road! I couldn’t imagine another one, and thought perhaps it had migrated from Wells Landing where we’d seen it on an earlier ride. Later, we found the Wells Landing dragon waiting patiently, however!

Another Santa Dragon

Another Santa Dragon

Just before reaching the old water tower, I noticed a car had gone off the road and stopped to investigate. I was thankful to see the remnants of yellow warning tape around it, as I’d never seen a convertible Isuzu Trooper before! A car stopped as well, our having brought attention to the wreck that was obscured by the roadside brush. We explained that with the yellow tape, the incident must have taken place some time before. Turns out that Nate had spied this wreck a year ago, and teased me about my not seeing it. I don’t know how many times we’d ridden past it, usually going the opposite direction, which would make it nearly invisible. But somehow I didn't notice it while going the other direction ’til today.

Convertable Isuzu Trooper

A convertible Isuzu Trooper

Tom and Isuzu

Stepping back, Tom and the Isuzu.

The wind was coming out of the south, and particularly stiff when crossing Wells Landing on the ultra-smooth pavement. At times it cut through my clothing and I looked forward to crossing the ferry, or surprising Claudia at the B&B (— and allowing us in!), and finding the wind at our backs. Claudia was not be found, and so we rolled on down to the ferry, where Mindy was working her shift.

I asked her about the two cars that had driven into the river during operating hours the last month, and when we reached the east side, she pointed out the last car was just recently discovered, but still in the water. The 23-year-old had no explanation, she said, other than he was suddenly aware of water on his windshield! He’d managed to climb out and be rescued. The earlier car had been driven by a 89-year-old woman, who had attended Barbara, my ex-wife’s church, and according to her, was sharp as a tack. But she failed to survive the exposure to the cold water of the river.

Submerged car

Submerged car

There is signage on both sides of the river that warns of the ferry operation and stop signs as well, along with overhead lighting. Perhaps the counties will have to install flashing red lights in addition. The gates are closed after hours, but I’ve never seen one of the gates with impacts to them.

Buena Vista Ferry

View from Buena Vista Ferry

Tom on Buena Vista Ferry

Tom with his Torelli Gran Sasso on the Buena Vista Ferry

We rode off the ferry and north on Buena Vista Road. And after crossing the railroad tracks, I joked with Tom how it was only a little farther to where we parked the car. Tom was nonplussed — until I reminded him of the many times we’d driven down here and then ridden loops during my early recovery. We went up Lake Drive, where I kept up with Tom, but let him leave me at the junction with Liberty Road. I decided to remove some clothing and vent my jacket for the extended climb to the top. He was pedaling softly, waiting for me on the false flat before regaining the climb, and inquired as to my well-being. I replied that I just stopped to avoid overheating. I tried to pass Tom and beat him to the top, but it was not within me, and so I followed him.

Buena Vista Road view

View while riding along Buena Vista Road.

I’m not sure if Tom was riding to favor his knee, or if I was just that much stronger, but when Tom unexpectedly pulled into the left turn lane for Skyline, I just thanked him for the ride, wondering where he was going! Apparently, he did also, because he sprinted between cars to get back into the bike lane on Liberty! He had no explanation. He just felt like it was where he would make a left turn!

So, here we are Wednesday morning, the 20th of December. Going to Portland for a PET Scan — too bad Kaiser Permanente and Salem Hospital can’t share the local facility! Had my breakfast end at 7:30 so that I have that six-hour fast before my appointment at 1:30.

Ummmmm, traffic leaving Portland at 3:30 in the afternoon, during the week before Christmas, could be slow! They didn’t get me in ’til a quarter ’til two, but I had a lovely time with the young woman getting me ready. I asked Jessie, a slim blonde, if she rode her bike to work. She said no, she’d just recently moved here from Klamath Falls, and she and her husband lived in Beaverton. She told me a story of driving during the midge season in Klamath Falls, in a vehicle that the windshield wipers weren’t working. She had to keep stopping and scraping enough of the bugs off to see where she was going, and that the front of her vehicle had a “beard” of the bugs hanging off the grill!

I encouraged her to think about finding a place to park her car, so that she could ride partway to work, and she countered with her frequent use of the Max train, and that they didn’t own bikes! This was following my description of viewing the sequel to Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” at the Progressive Film Series last night. She’d seen “An Inconvenient Truth” and wasn’t aware of the “Inconvenient Sequel, Truth to Power”. I told her that I thought the most powerful moment in the film was where India was the sole holdout in the Paris Climate Agreements, due to trying to catch up 150 years of development by building 400 coal-fired energy plants!

Gore convinced an American solar engineering firm to divulge industry secrets to India, and India then signed the climate agreements! I mentioned the restored Gorge historic highway, and Tillamook’s Three Capes Scenic Loop as astounding panoramic views, and told her they deserved to get bikes to have the opportunity to experience those views. Then, I was given the injection of tracer element and had 45+ minutes to wait for it to defuse itself throughout my body. I’d placed my current book by the door, but forgot to take it with me. But I was pleased to find a coffee table book on London, and didn’t finish the book before I was led away to the scan.

I’d been thorough in my preparations, other than forgetting my book — Angela drove me to the Progressive Film so as to avoid exercise (where Cindy and other members were concerned about my health, being there without my bike!). I had my six-hour fast, and wore non-metal containing clothing. The scan only lasts 15-20 minutes, and I’d hoped to take it as a nap. I guess I didn’t remember the last time well, as the weird noises and wind were like the sound track to a science fiction movie! I tried counting to 60, and keeping track of the number of times, but then I’d either lapse into a never land or be distracted by the changing light or increasing/decreasing noise of the machine.

Holding my arms above my head with my wrists crossed, wasn’t comfortable either, and while the warm blanket placed over me was soothing, my exposed wrists and hands became cool with the rushing of the wind. I twitched once or twice, and the radiologist said she noticed, but felt the pictures came out fine. I changed into my jeans, and wandered to the exit hall, where Jessie was apparently returning from lunch all bundled up. I glanced at her, and she acknowledged with a “Nice to meet you! Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm for Oregon!”, to which I replied, “You’re welcome! See you next time!”, and after a finite moment, we both said, “I hope not!”, and laughed at the irony!

Barbara, my ex-wife, had been good enough to spend the day driving me up to Portland, understanding that traffic exiting Portland would be a crawl. We stopped at Famous Dave’s Barbecue, having been disappointed on a prior trip. Well, maybe not crushed, but having to settle for a chopped pork sandwich, when we’d wanted a pulled pork sandwich. Turned out that Famous Dave’s wasn’t the restaurant she’d been thinking of, and we settled for chopped pork once more! It didn’t matter, as it had been eight hours plus since I’d eaten, and I was easily satisfied!

Traffic had died down somewhat when we returned to I-5, but it was still 6:30 by the time she dropped me off at the shop where I’d left my bike. Nate was just getting ready to leave, and had the bad news that the 24”, 28 spoke, Shimano 333 3-speed wheel, I’d re-built for a repair was not engaging in any gear. And the resettable combination cable we’d sold to a customer was still not resolved as to what code the customer had re-set it to! Those combined with a couple repairs, and a new bike to be assembled would be waiting for us the following day!

Just prior to reaching the shop, I saw another Santa Dragon on Idylwood! I must be out of some loop, missing a new animation from Disney!

Fortunately, Di had come by the shop earlier and taken the combo cable home with her. She picked it in 15-20 minutes, she said the next day, while in bed watching a movie.

I began Thursday morning working on the 24” wheel. Shimano 333 hubs are from the 50’s and 60’s, and no replacement parts are available. I doubt the techs at Shimano America would even know what the hub was. Nate and Di had found a couple hubs I’d saved over the years, and one, though thoroughly rusted, was somewhat apart. I began with it to see if any small parts could be salvaged, thinking that most likely the pawl springs had rusted thru on the no longer working hub.

Shimano 3-speed hub

Here is the Shimano 3-speed hub, waiting for some magic. I was able to make it work like new. Or perhaps even better.

Following Sutherland’s manual, not a U-Tube video, I was stumped when instructed to use the Shimano Ball Cup removal tool — though I was sure we owned one. But, it didn’t fit, nor did one similar, but smaller, fit. After checking in UBT’s catalog, I deciphered that, indeed, I had the proper tool, I attempted to remove the carriage which was apparently blocking the use of the Ball Cup removal tool. I couldn’t pry it out, and in frustration, I tried to jar it loose by banging the hub shell on the other side against the vise. The carriage slid deeper into the shell, allowing access to the Ball Cup! But with no rim and spokes, I had no leverage to twist the hubshell to remove the ball cup! I laced the hubshell to a Park crank arm straightener, using an old cable, and freed the ball cup.  I successfully removed the rest of the guts, and then began work on the no longer working wheel. Having a wheel to work with made short work of removing the ball cup! I was worried at first, as many of the pawls were compressed into their recesses. But I found that the springs were still intact, and I merely needed to remove the rust, grit and grime holding the pawls in place. They got a proper lubing and the bearings received a blessing of grease as well! It now shifts as if it were new, possibly better!

I mis-read my Kaiser Permanente (KP) instructions via voice mail, a reminder, of schedules. I saw the 4:30, and assumed it was on Thursday as usual. I showed up, the receptionist was nowhere in sight, and feeling like I was already late, knocked on the oncology door without checking in. Turned out, they’d moved my blood draw and dressing change to Friday, the next day, after a 2:30 meeting with my local oncologist, Santolli. Lisa, one of the staff in oncology, got me in since I was already there. I really didn’t want to ride back to the shop, or get home earlier either, so it worked out.

On Friday, I found Grace Panther, now Dr. Panther, former bicycle tourist of France (and hoping to return!), currently headed for Hawaii before returning to a job in Cincinnati, waiting in the shop with a plateful of cookies! Despite the distraction of the cookies, I managed to find all the gallery components that had been recently purchased and re-assemble the rusty 333 Shimano hub, before returning to Skyline KP for the consultation with Santolli.

It was cold, and when the assistant started to take my temperature, I told her instrument wouldn’t work as I’d ridden my bike there, and so far, riding a bike in the cold and taking temperatures, the machine has failed to register! Angela showed up a little late, and when the assistant asked about the drugs I was taking. I looked at Angela and she reminded me that I had a piece of paper she’d typed up for me showing the various ones and their dosages. The scan failed to reveal any signs of cancer. No, I’m not cured! Given my genetics, not my birth genetics, but my altered genetics, I would be prone to another attack of the same cancer.

Let me see if I can get this right. If I have no cancer cells at the moment, having a T-Cell treatment won’t do me any good, as there would be no cells with cancer agents for genetically altered T-Cells to attack. The immune system transfer would allow another person’s genetics to prevent further cancer growth. There is a slight chance I still have cancer in my left kidney, and a biopsy would clarify that. However, that operation is more involved than a bone marrow biopsy, with more risks. T-Cell treatment involves about a month of hospitalization, while immune system transfers require 3 months. T-Cell treatments reveal that if a patient has no adverse reaction during the first 6 months, they most likely won’t. Immune system transfers can have adverse reactions any time during the rest of your life, possibly requiring doses of Prednisone the rest of your life. It might mean you have to be content to spend the rest of your life sitting in front of a computer screen, or other inactive lifestyle.

Santolli will have more news in about three weeks. In the meantime, he did send a request to get me a cortisone shot for my right hip. There is some medication they could prescribe to increase my bone density, but it might lead to loose teeth! Not that the medication would build the density to the point any orthopedic doc would calmly agree to my having a new hip attached, just help prevent the fracture of a femur if I were to crash on my bike! He did encourage my riding my bike so as to continue building up myself in preparation for potential hospitalization.

Weather permitting, I’d like to ride up Summit Loop on Sunday, Christmas Eve, as a test of what my endurance has built to. Looks pretty cold, snow, maybe, or freezing rain? Keeping an eye on the forecast, could always put the studded tires on the Ira Ryan!

December 15 update: Tuesday, the day after receiving the Rituxin infusion, I felt so limber and my right hip didn’t ache! I really looked forward to a ride, but with Nate on his own at the shop on Wednesday, I decided to wait until Thursday. I contacted Tom Wednesday, who said the forecast was calling for freezing fog, but I couldn’t find that on a weather ap anywhere myself.

I did load up the trailer with all the cardboard and carted it off to the transfer site that night, and really felt the load making the turn off Idylwood’s grade to Sunnyside. And, of course, my right hip began to ache! I thought about taking a painkiller when I got home, but after watching an episode of Netflix, my hip felt better. I still had trouble with finding a comfortable position to sleep that night, however. And I did take a painkiller before I set off for the shop to go ride. I’d received a note from Tom that his knee had bothered him once more, clambering about on the roof. While his mind said go, his knee said no.

So I went out for a short ride this Thursday morning over Gibson on the Calfee, with my SKS CO2 pump and spare cartridge now attached to the bottle cage. I was worried about being over-dressed, but going down the hill into town was chilly, indeed! I was worried about the open tubulars being susceptible to punctures as well as watching for frozen ice patches.

Cold and Curvy Gibson

Cold and curvy Gibson

One of the car dealerships on Commercial had washed a car and the runoff had laid a nice path of ice across the street intersecting Commercial. Fortunately, I had no reason to make a right turn across it and risk ending up horizontal!
I did encounter heavy frost on the onramp to the bike/pedestrian walk on the bridge over the Willamette, and not expecting it, had not geared down as low as I would have. I just crept along, trying not to surge on the pedals while inching upwards! I’ve heard carbon fiber doesn’t like to interact with concrete, and I was certain my bones wouldn’t like it any better! The descent down the other side of the bridge was without incident, though I was wary of anything that glinted.

Turning onto Wallace Road, I was prepared for all the debris in the bike lane and did my best to steer clear of potentially sharp objects. I had no wish to test my skills with the CO2 pump on a cold day.

There’s a gravel quarry to the north of West Salem, so the shoulder is always littered with rocks. I did the turn onto Brush College, again time-trialing to avoid being tail-gated and making the break in traffic without feeling like a sitting duck.

I can’t say for certain, but I feel like those ceramic Cult bearings do enhance the bike’s ability to roll easier, or at least faster than the last time I rode thru this intersection. A short way beyond where Doaks Ferry crosses Brush College, the pavement was chip-sealed at one time. It’s worn down, but I was pleased with the Calfee’s ride on it. I still ran out of gears approaching the turn off onto Gibson, and found myself shifting the other direction just as rapidly going down into the gully that precedes the steepest part of Gibson. Yep, I was standing on the pedals, doing the 1-2 motion before I crested that little bump! I could ride the rest seated for the most part, but not without effort. The Ira Ryan’s lower gearing, even with an eight-pound handicap allowed me to spin the cranks, and on the Calfee, I was muscling them along. I stood a lot on Gibson, giving myself a relief in the saddle with every false flat I encountered. But I spent much more time of the saddle than I had on the Ryan.

Autumn leaves had disappeared and there were visible marks on the road where de-icer had been sprayed. I was vigilant, but going uphill slowly didn’t alarm me. I was concerned about the ride down Eagle Crest and finding a frozen rivulet crossing the road in a hidden corner. I’d seen the sheep at the bottom of the climb, and they appeared to have grown a lot more wool since the last time I rode by. But the other livestock was nowhere to be seen, other than the calls of the roosters and chickens. Even the creek was muffled, not having had any rainfall for well over a week.

Once I reached Eagle Crest and began the descent, I began to hear bird noises, or so I thought. Perhaps, it was just the wind whistling thru my ear warmer and resonating, but I also thought of the ceramic bearings that, well, maybe they should have had some lube added. This noise seemed even more noticeable when I began the descent down Orchard Heights toward town. This was the first ride on the Calfee that I could just let it go, without fear of a corner or a car jumping out of a parking lot. The higher speed might amplify the noise of ceramic bearing complaining, but with my ear warmer on, it was difficult to determine. And my ears would not have lasted long if I’d removed the warmer!

Orchard Heights Tranquility Garden

Orchard Heights tranquility garden

Mount Hood could be seen off in the background as I neared town, but I was concentrating more on the pavement and my speed, with a little concern for slippery conditions.

Mount Hood

Mount Hood could barely be seen through the thick air.

Mount Hood

Another shot of Mount Hood. The big mountain can be made out in the distance..

I was coasting down the hill by West Salem High School, assessing the abrupt turn onto Doak’s Ferry when a car pulled into the left turn lane facing me. I knew that the light would change in his favor, and geared down, losing all momentum, and it was out of the saddle once more! But, for once, traffic had tripped the light at Glen Creek in my favor and I made the turn at speed, still working to get to the top of the next rise. They’d cleaned the bike lane of the season’s debris, and I was thankful, remembering the stick I picked up over a year ago that smashed my rear fender on my rain bike.

Once over the rise, I descended without worrying about taking the traffic lane, not having to guess the nature of the stuff littering the bike lane other than remembering where the sunken manhole/water main covers are. The green stripes in the bike lane approaching Wallace Road are meant to alert motorists that it is a bike lane, but when the light is green at the intersection, one accelerates in anticipation of making the light and the raised stripes become more than bumps for a speeding bicycle! This time, I could tell that it would be a wait as there were long lines of cars in every direction, so the brakes were applied and the bumps smoothed out.

I rode thru Wallace Marine Park, seeing both the homeless, some with thrown-together bike trailers, and the usual walkers and joggers. I crossed the Union Pacific bike/pedestrian bridge and I was pleased that the Calfee didn’t make the expansion joints in the concrete too noticeable. The ride thru Riverfront Park on the opposite side of the river was quiet and the ice skating rink was not open.

I again had a green light leaving the park and made the right turn onto Front Street.  I zig-zagged thru the debris littering the bike lane before heading south on Commercial. Whether the lighter bike or returning from a short ride made a difference, I don’t know, but climbing the hill next to the Civic Center I was seated and spinning, with a slight tailwind to assist.

I elected to ride Saginaw, the “bike route” that runs parallel to Commercial after intersecting Mission Street. The initial detour is a mess of broken concrete, perhaps similar to cobblestones of a finer nature. Still, a deterrent if you’re in a hurry! I finally stopped a few blocks up the route to remove my winter cap, leaving my balaclava on, and stashed my heavy mitts in my jacket pocket. I was surprised to find that my head became cold quickly and I could definitely feel the edge thru my thinner long-finger gloves. After reaching Rural, where Saginaw dead-ends, I made the turn and rejoined Commercial. I was surprised to find myself moving at speed up the hill, helped perhaps with the tail wind and perhaps the lighter weight of the bike.

Approaching Life Source, a car in the oncoming left turn lane deliberately attempted to turn in front of me. Surprised, I made a wide turn into the cross street and circled around the front of his car. Perhaps I was going faster than he anticipated, but if I’d had a vehicle with a horn, I would have used it! And while climbing up the hill just past Salem Height Elementary school, where there are no bike lanes, I observed in my mirror that a car was about to overtake me with another car in the adjacent lane. I was hugging the, uh, curb, when, of course, the storm grate appeared, and I had to swerve out four inches into the travel lane. The car didn’t let up its speed, and passed very closely, honking his horn as well.

I have always hoped that I might get this section of Liberty Road re-striped to two single lanes of travel with a continuous left turn lane, which would allow bike lanes of either side, but the engineers say that at 8am and 5pm the traffic at the intersections would rate an "F" level. There is no land on either side of the road to add bike lanes to according to the city engineers. It’s a major corridor. It needs to be alternate-modes-of-travel friendly if we are ever going to bust this business of expanding roads and encouraging land use sprawl.

I returned to the shop before heading off later to Skyline KP for my blood draw and dressing change, and even on the Stump, I could feel the effect of the tailwind. Light bikes aren’t everything!

December 13 update: I meant to go out for a ride on Thursday the 7th, but with the oncologist meeting at 2:30 and some un-resolved situations in the shop, I decided not to. It was a good thing, as the bike sale was finalized and the Bionix electric assist was completed as well. Tom was working on Friday, so I decided to wait ’til Saturday to ride. I called and left a message for Claudia at the Buena Vista B&B, hoping to have a place to warm up in the middle of the ride. At the end of Friday, I found I’d missed a call from Claudia, but that she’d called Tom as well. When I spoke with Tom, she’d agreed to let us in, but only if we got there before noon, which meant a more direct route as we wussed out and started at 10, with the temperature a balmy 34 degrees. I’d suggested we go straight out Liberty, but as we approached the intersection with Skyline, Tom felt it was just as short going out that way.

I rode the Calfee with the handbuilt Open Pro’s using Revolution spokes and nipples, paired the Campy OS silver hubs with the Cult ceramic bearings I’d installed. The bike was noticeably nicer to ride than with the Ksyrium SL’s, and even 20 grams lighter. I still carried the spare shifter cable as the 75% lighter cables had a shelf life of two years, expiring in 2005!

Knowing that Tom was going to Corvallis for his sweat lodge, I found my CO2 pump and spare cartridge and squeezed them into the seatbag, so that if necessary, Tom could speed off home and I could make it in later. "Later" meaning that I’d never used a CO2 pump before, having preferred frame pumps. But the Calfee wasn’t designed for frame pumps, so this was the answer.

The puddles were frozen along the road and I watched carefully for any rivulets that might have frozen on the road. We sped past the Vitae Springs turnoff — surely wasn’t interested in going down those dark and twisting gullies on a day like today — and got out of the saddle as we reached the small incline where Moore Rd. joins. I didn’t do too badly, certainly wasn’t giving Tom any competition, but I was keeping him within sight! The Christmas Tree farm at Cole Road attracted a lot of traffic, their lot was full of cars and the fields were bright with the winter wear of folks selecting their trees. I was relieved to leave the traffic behind and attempt to gain momentum for climbing the stretch before Chinook Estates, or Concomly. I was behind Tom on the climb when he nearly fell over on his left side, and veered around him — he did manage to disengage his cleat, but walked to the top. His knee gave out on him, and he attributed it to overworking in in the gym in Florida for two weeks, where he’d regaled me with tales of 85 degree weather and drinks by the pool — while we were in a deluge of rain!

I let him lead down the descent to Riverside, missing having a double-pivot brake on the front. The Cane Creek SL’s are single-pivot, and at the time I purchased them, the lightest brakes on the market. And remember, “Brakes are for modulating speed, not for stopping!", an adage I believe that was attributed to a famous bicycle parts manufacturer at one time.

I noticed a “wooden knocking” during the descent, and thought it might be a bottle/cage combination, or at worse, a loosening headset, but continued chasing Tom as he made the left turn on Riverside. I did quite a bit of riding beside Tom ’til we reached Ankeny Vineyard, and followed him carefully down the hill and thru the hard right at the bottom, only using my momentum to pass him and set a good pace for him to catch! By the time we reached the ponds, I was happy to just ride beside him once again.

It wasn’t until we reached the intersection with Wintel, that I spotted a great background of frost on the ground and asked Tom to turn around so as to pose the picture. No way, he wasn’t going to get cold, and continued on his way! I stopped and took a couple shots before I hurried off to catch him just as he was crossing the bridge over the little creek. The east side of the bridge was covered in a heavy frost, and reminded me to be careful crossing bridges in the winter, even if the roads were bare.

Buena Vista frost

Some serious frost

We caught the ferry as it was unloading a car, and Tom impatiently rode aboard before the idling car, while I waited for the car to descend to the ferry. The water was still high, and the ramp had a sheen of water on it on the far side. I was worried that perhaps it had frozen and as we rode off and up the embankment, our rear wheels might spin, causing crashes. But the deck of the ferry covered the watermark, so it was just a matter of clipping in and climbing the hill. The car didn’t appear to be in any hurry, and Tom took off, and I gave a glance at the driver who appeared to be distracted with some electrical device, before following Tom. Again, I wasn’t catching Tom, but he was within sight!

The B&B was dark, and Tom’s rapping on the door brought no one. I’d noticed that my seat seemed to be lower than I was accustomed to, and informed Tom I wanted to raise it before continuing on.  He agreed and took a ride around back to see if Claudia was somewhere out there. He returned with no news of her as I finished, and so we rode off. Would have been a nice ride to remember if she’d been there with a hot meal and the wood stove going!

Buena Vista Inn

No hot meal today.

Wells Landing was as smooth as ever, and the headwind was slight, noticeably colder, but not unbearably. I had to stop Tom and get him to turn around when I spotted the Christmas dragon with the teddy bear that had replaced the Halloween dragon. They must have an affinity for dragons, have to see what a Valentine’s dragon will bring!

Christmas Dragon

Stopping to say hello to the Christmas dragon

It wasn’t long before we were crossing the Independence bridge riding River Road South for the first time since last spring. I made a note to stay clear of Tom as we swung thru the railroad underpass, as it is deceptively steep, and while I avoided him when his left knee unexpectedly gave again, I had to veer out in front of a following car. He recovered, and continued up the incline, and I had to scamper to catch him, having lost my rhythm in avoiding him.

Much to my surprise, Tom suggested we go up Hall’s Ferry and get on Riverdale. I kinda figured that with his susceptible knee, he’d want to ease back to Salem, and worry about climbing Madrona. He made the turn and I followed, but both of us were unprepared for the frost covering the railroad crossing that greeted us in our lower gears. I’m not sure coasting is the word, but somehow we soft-pedaled our way without incident.

Riverdale wasn’t too bad, the leaves had dried out and blown to the sides of the road. I’ve avoided this road when they were thick and wet. We hit another patch of heavy frost at the last railroad underpass, unexpected, but coasted thru it without mishap. After regaining River Road south, we passed the intersection with Homestead, and it reminded me of the first time I decided to ride up the east side. When I got to this intersection, the frost was so heavy that it looked like glare ice, and I nervously turned around and rode back to the shop. Glad I turned around, because when it was warmer, I decided to ride it for fun, and it’s dark, steep, and plenty of twisting/heaving roadway! On a cold day, it would have been hell on a bike!

I stopped at the foot of Madrona to take off my winter cap and heavy gloves, and unzip some opening on my jacket. Tom didn’t wait, but I could see him at the top of the initial climb when I resumed. Cars go fast on Madrona, both up and down the hill, and it’s a long sustained climb, out of the saddle for me. I was looking forward to the “flat” that precedes the hairpin as a means of recovery, feeling that if I made it over the hump, the hairpin wouldn’t be so bad. Not so. I was glad to find the “flat” exiting the hairpin, and found it was all I could do to keep out of the saddle to the top! Tom, having made the turn to his home on Crestview, was nowhere to be seen.

Riding back thru the need-to-be paved residential streets, the “knocking on wood” became very pronounced, but I couldn’t feel it in the steering. When I returned to the shop, I wanted to change and have lunch before investigating the annoying knock, but found I almost blacked out twice in the midst of changing clothes. Perhaps I used up most of the oxygen in my below normal hemoglobin making that final climb? The knock turned out to be the CO2 pump and spare cartridge in my seatbag! I installed the SKS holder by the downtube bottle cage after modifying it because of Calfee’s using embedded bolts in the frame instead of braze-ons. I also discovered that my seatpost had not been lubed with carbon grit lube! Guess I wasn’t sure I’d ever ride that bike when I installed it!

I had every intention of riding Sunday, just a short ride, but paying bills, building a few wheels, emptying the garbage cans of leaves that I trucked home on the trailer found the day nearly gone.

I’d been notified thru the message phone that I had an appointment at Skyline at 12:30, which was weird in that usually they are at 4:30. Turns out it is another infusion of Rituxin, which took until nearly four in the afternon. Still, I did get a lot of shop related correspondence accomplished! I’ve an appointment on Wednesday, the 20th for a PET scan, and the local oncologist will interpret it on the 22nd. We’ll see where that leads.

Posts on this page: January 11 update|December 28 update|December 17 & 20 updates|December 15|December 13

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Original June 15, 2017 post:

I’ve been off my bike for three weeks now, and am not sure when I’ll feel up to it again.

I began experiencing lower abdomen pain, back, maybe kidney, unable to sleep very well, and finally towards the end of April went into to check it out. They observed me, took a chest x-ray and scheduled me for a CT scan for the 16th of May. The nights became a roulette of finding positions in bed, the couch, even the toilet attempting to relieve the pain. After a few more days, I called them and said I need to get that CT Scan sooner, but they were booked up. They promised to put me at the head of the cancellation list, and I was surprised to have them the next day to inform me that they had the cancellation the following morning. But before I left that day, they called and the specialist was sick, and I would need to re-schedule for the 24th. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, and on the morning of the 24th at 2am, unable to sleep or sit, I got on my bike and pedaled around the neighborhood for 45 mins with no pain. I came home and caught a 20 min nap, woke up with the same amount of pain, and rode for another two hours without pain, pushing myself hard in hopes of the exertion would allow me to sleep upon my return and make it to the 2pm CT Scan.

The pain prevented any hopes of sleep, and instead of riding some more, I woke up my wife to take me down to Urgent Care of the Salem Hospital. I thought about just riding down there, and letting my wife sleep, but it was close to her regular rising time anyway. Would have made a better story if I’d ridden, just would have been more complicated for my family.

It was a good time for a check-in at an ER but the wait seemed infinite. I may have been awake when they inserted a Foley catheter or not, but they emptied over a liter out of my bladder and I guess I’d had some pain meds as well, the pressure was gone, just an irritation lingered. They got a CT scan immediately which revealed growths around my left kidney and surrounding areas there. They did a biopsy which later to their relief, showed that the non-Hodgkins lymphoma I’d been treated for in 2002 had returned. The option would have surgery and removing body parts. Nice choice, eh!

I spent 4-5 days grogged-out before being sent home. Nice folks, a really good inspirational crew. Wasn’t looking forward to being returned to the hands of Kaiser Permanente my health insurance provider whom I’d had to wait so long for the CT scan.  KP was not aware of the cancer treatment I’d received in 2002, to my surprise, but in juggling the expenses of health care, we’d switched providers since then. Worse, Salem Oncology, where I was treated by Bud Pierce, who ran against Kate Brown for Oregon governor this last round, destroyed the records on a ten-year-rotation, as they hadn’t started computerized filing until 2013! Someone there sleuthed the name of the treatment from the billing department, R-CHOP.  I remember riding my bike thru the entire 12 weeks of treatment, with the exception of the day of the weekly chemo injection, and finally learning to hate even the taste of lime popcicles!

I was released after 4 days at Salem Hospital.  Upon a consultation with the oncologist at Kaiser Permanente, I was scheduled for a 10:30 PET scan, but had to be taken to Portland for that.  My folks drove me, and while I just wanted to snooze, my lovely 87-year-old stepfather had to make comments on cars, interchanges, weather, etc.  I wasn’t worried about getting there, he’s pretty proficient with his navigation system, but his reaction times are not that of a younger person, and listening to directions in crowded Portland traffic and having to make decisions had ultimately involve me as well!  Such is life!  We made it, but I’d made the ultimate boo-boo!

After waiting for a half hour, they wheeled me back into a corner of the facility, and asked if I’d consumed any food during the last six hours, and I replied I hadn’t since just before 6 am.  Brake lights really lit up at that point!  Not possible, the scan isn’t accurate with only a 4 hour fast.  I asked if I could wait another couple hours — no, they were booked up.  I explained that I was supposed to return to Portland at 8:30 the next morning to undergo a week of chemo treatments, and if re-scheduling a PET scan would really mess things up.  She hesitated, and said she’d look to see if there was anything she could do.  She returned and informed me that she had a couple of regulars who had shown up early, could move them up and shoe-horn me in at the appropriate time.  Whew!  I explained to my patient parents awaiting a very sterile atmosphere outside.

My folks drove me up the next morning to the Sunnyside Hospital on 205, and yes, there was some traffic jam, which I think secretly delighted my stepfather in his search for the faster lane, but had me constantly looking for brake lights coming on!  He drives a lot less aggressively than a decade ago, the gas pedal doesn’t get as much force as it used to, but his ability to keep his peripheral vision when scanning to see an open lane and not tailgate left me in unease.  I wasn’t sure what to do when we got there, whether to thank my folks and send them on home, or again have them wait for eventual initial consultation. They didn’t really have to wait, not much new info was dispersed, so I sent them home.

During the last five days, I’ve had three different drenches of chemo with no nausea, thank god. I got to watch a lot of DVD’s, which initially no one could find a remote that would work with it! The nurse’s would have to stand by and fast forward the disc to the play button before leaving, and I had no way to pause for the numerous vital checks and other routines of life in a hospital room. If fell asleep, well find someone to rewind for you!

I did take a few books with me, notably Repack and the Birth of Mountain Biking Fat-Tire Flyer by Charlie Kelly, which I’d initially ordered as a “well, it’s a bike story” kind of read, but turned out to be pretty engaging. The other books I took were pretty dated, or superfluously light reading.

Ever since American Cycling ceased to be a book distributor, I’ve fallen behind on books. Bill McGann, the founder of Torelli, publishes books on bike racing and lives up the road in McMinnville. He manages my webpage, and is currently adding bicycles, framesets, and parts to it as an ongoing gallery. He doesn’t watch movies unless they are bike related! Here at home, I have Netflix to entertain my veggie brain, but still at this point, I find I’ve fallen asleep though as much as an episode of some show.

Three weeks off the bike, and my right knee wants me to remember the tear it received nearly 4 decades ago! Just a daily pedal to the shop and back has kept it in place. I’ve yet to ride that Ritchey P-29’r, but it is now set up in the living room on a trainer for watching Netflix, when I can get on it. Catheter has got to go first, I think!

Be my virtual rider,


Posts on this page: January 11 update|December 28 update|December 17 & 20 updates|December 15|December 13

Previous posts: October 12, October 24, November 13, November 17, November 19, December 5, December 11

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