Welcome to carbonstories.org. On this site you can learn about Michael Johnson-Chase and follow my blogs. With some exceptions, this site follows "theme based" cycling tours focusing on social and climate related issues. Slowed down observations of the world over days, weeks and months at 10 to 15 miles an hour can reveal a depth and quality of understanding about our environment often missed by faster modes of travel.

Portland to Seattle on an ultralight folding bike, Post 1

Portland to Seattle on an ultralight folding bike, Post 1

Some of you may remember I had planned to be cycling across Newfoundland about now. Well, life doesn't always go according to plan. I couldn't quite get myself out of New York City once I returned from my Blue Ridge trip in late June. For one thing, the weather remained quite pleasant there all summer (go figure - the second hottest July globally on record), so it didn't add to my desire to flee. For another, I decided I needed to deepen (once again) my ties to my immediate community. One thing that results from about not being in a place is that it becomes less and less the community through which one experiences identity. As banal as that thought is, I decided (once again) that I love New York City and wanted to give it some attention so that returning to it the next time I left was an even bigger pleasure. And of course NYC is often deeply rewarding to anyone who decides to romance it. It's a glorious example of humankind at its best, worst and most intense. It's a cauldron of life, and if one loves being alive, on some level one cannot help but love New York.   

And, sooner or later, one needs to leave it. Some weeks ago, I was gripped by an unrequited fantasy - to outfit my Brompton folding bike so I can tour on it... the advantages are numerous (as are the downsides) and I've been thinking about doing this for several years... However, the only bike shop I know about (and I think I'm right in my analysis) that coverts Brompton to a gearing level that approximates a touring bike is Clever Cycles in Portland. Well, before I thought about Newfoundland I had been thinking about the Pacific Northwest (and cycling through Glacier National Park, another unrequited fantasy), so it wasn't a big step to decide on Portland. Glacier will have to wait, but earlier this week I flew from NYC to Portland (gate checking my folding Brompton), and arrived at Clever Cycles for the gearing upgrade. 

The shop was great, although several days later about 140 miles out of Portland I'm having some gearing issues that I cannot - so far - reconcile on my own. But I know that when I get back to Portland next week the good folks at Clever Cycles will help me... in the meantime, I'm in my way to Seattle (which is about 200 miles from Portland) to visit my dear friend Jeff Hart from my college days. What a pleasure that will be! So, I'm limping along at 6 or 3 or 9 gears depending on the moment with 18 (or is it 16 inch?) wheels and two carry bags. The weather has been lovely and I'm testing out a lighter sleeping pad and bag, and an Alpine bivouac...  It's pretty simple and I've had two great nights sleep already in this crazy little Gortex sack.

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My bike in NYC on the way to the airport. It no longer has the bike rack... I removed it to reduce weight... it now looks like this.  

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I am not able to send maps of my route because my bike computer broke. I hope to fix that problem tomorrow. 

More anon, 

Michael 

Portland to Seattle on an ultralight folding bike, Post 2

Blue Ridge Finale, Post 10