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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

I missed all the Bike Fun yet not the Bike Misery or Happy 30th Birthday to Myself

Some of you more savvy bike-funnest types may have noticed my conspicuous absence from bike events over the weekend, namely Tour De Fat and CycleCide. Well, I shall give several excuses for this inexcusable behavior:
1)Dude, this past weekend was the weekend of the Portland Zine Symposium! If you know me well enough, you know I was a zinester first. That's where I was most of Saturday and Sunday. Hell, why didn't you stop by?
2) So being cooped up all day Saturday in Smith Ballroom at Portland State University can excuse me from missing the Tour de Fat, but the CycleCide thing was in the evening. Well? Well, I was so beat from the zines that I fell asleep at 7pm and when I woke up I decided that there would be no fun for me that evening.
3) Most importantly, IT'S MY THIRTIETH BIRTHDAY and I can do what I want to do, without having to explain myself to the likes of you!

As for my birthday, a group of friends and I spent a most enjoyable evening on Sunday, August 7th, at the Pied Cow on SE Belmont at 33rd. In the patio we enjoyed scrumptious hummus platters, addictive coffee beverages, snotty "rock-and-roll" waitresses, and broken U-Locks.

Oh yeah, the U-Lock. On departing, Devon couldn't get her U-Lock to open, no matter what. Since this wasn't a Kryptonite, we couldn't use a Bic pen, so a gaggle of us stood beside the aforementioned lock and figured out what to do. Here were our options and how they all panned out (clip 'n' save for future reference when this happens to you):
1) Hacksaw: Ken ran to his house and got his hacksaw in an attempt to cut the lock. It managed to cut through the rubber housing, but nothing else.
2)AAA: if they can provide roadside assistance to a member when they're locked out of their car, then they should be able to do the same for a bike, right? Wrong. AAA only applies when you are in a car.
And here's a tangential rant about Triple-A: while they may appear innocent and apolitical and seem to provide nothing more than free maps and towings, they are in fact a powerful lobbying group pushing for legislation for more roads, more sprawl, and in turn, more pollution and degradation of the environment. They'll push their pro-road agenda at the detriment of public transportation (funny, you get a 10% discount for Amtrak if you are an AAA member though) or other alternative modes of transport. Since the AAA is so large (1 in 4 households in the US belong to it) they wield a lot of power. A power that most of its members don't even know about.
When I found out about the dark side of AAA, I quickly dropped out of it. I urge all y'all to do the same. If you want more info about this issue, read this.
Oh, drop AAA? Well, what am I going to do when my car stalls during a frigid PDX winter? How about join the Better World Club which does the same thing as AAA but in an evironmentally responsible way? (and they offer Bicycle assistance as well!) (and they are based here in Portland!)
P.S. You can get that 10% discount on Amtrak if you are a member of the National Association of Railroad Passengers (which I am), which promotes better rail transit in America.
End rant.

3) Crack/Meth head: they always seem to know how to steal most any bike, so I figured if we located one we could get them to pop the U-Lock. Alas, none were found.
4) Small Car Jack: the sheer strength of a car jack, rated to lift a 2-3 ton car, should pop a U-Lock no problem. Devon said she had one in her car...a few miles away.
5) The Police: told us to get bolt cutters. Some help.
6) Bolt cutters: Dylan grabbed a pair from his work and voila! it did the trick. I'm not sure I like the sounds of that, though. It doesn't make one feel easy that the way they lock up their bike can be broken in seconds.

Oh yeah! thanks to everyone who came to the festivities!


  1. Non-Kryptonite locks can be opened with a bic pen too. My Avenir circle-key u-lock popped right open with a bic. I promptly bought a new lock.

  2. True, anonymous, but in this case it didn't work.

  3. Thanks for the info about the AAA. I also assumed they would help bicyclists, although it was always on my "to do" list to call and verify. No more AAA for me! I'll check the more bike-friendly place out soon.

  4. Hey, nice blog Shawn. I can attest to how quickly the bolt cutters cut thru the u-lock. It was a Planet-Bike. It did seem a bit thinner in diameter than some u-locks, but still... I guess nothing is safe from a determined thief.


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