Going greaseless - Unchained Melody - CycleBlaze

November 11, 2023

Going greaseless

Dear little friends,

There had been some dithering going on. Should we, should we not, take another bike trip this winter. Pros and cons were discussed. The discussion would break down with both parties claiming that “I’m okay either way, you decide” which as anybody that’s ever been in a relationship knows can be either super freeing or also possibly a poison pill. Anyway, after confirming that both parties were neutral and we just can’t decide so let’s stop dithering and table the decision for now. Then the conversation pivoted to reminiscing about some of the crazy things that we’ve encountered on our eight trips to Asia together. 

“Ha, remember that train, omigod that train, the one with the mice? But then there was the one where the bird flew through the car? And the little boy on the bus that sat on the dashboard wiping the humidity off the windshield with toilet paper? Ha ha ha!”

Danger, heat, sickness, weariness. All those things, we laughed and laughed about. We’ve had some great little adventures together. They make good stories afterwards.

“Remember that gigantic spider in that hotel room that we thought you killed with the flip-flop? There were legs scattered everywhere! Hahaha, and then it came back to life and disappeared behind the toilet!!” 

We were rolling on the floor. We’ve had so much fun.

We tabled the discussion AND the reminiscing. Then I went to my computer and found myself looking at guesthouses in southern Vietnam on Google Maps, and at temples and videos and prices and airfares and I thought about winter in Portland, the rain, the dark, the gloom, the occasional ice storm and snow event. I thought about our ages, apparently not getting younger. How many more years can we do this crazy stuff? Not that many, despite our stout denial.

“Let’s go to Saigon.”

“Okay.”

And so it will come to pass. Ten days after we bought our tickets we were driving south on hellish I-5 to buy an unridden used Bike Friday with some cool features we had been lusting after for awhile: disc brakes and an internal hub/Gates Carbon Belt drivechain. The New World Tourist Silk. Oooh la la.

The owner had back problems and just couldn’t ride it even though it had been custom made for her, so now it was ours. We took it a few miles away to Bike Friday HQ in Eugene for a once-over (make an appointment, folks, they are not set up for drop-in consults) and it was confirmed, we had gotten an amazing deal on this bright red little gem.

Two days later, the owner’s husband also decided to sell HIS Bike Friday, which had a few more miles on it but was also in pristine condition. Back down I-5 we went, and back home with yet another screaming deal of a bike. Very, very exciting! This one was the same size but custom made for shorter legs, dark green, perfect for me. 

I love my old blue Bike Friday that has taken me thousands of miles, but I’m not going to miss the greasy chain tattoo on my leg and the funky friction shifting. These new bikes ride silently, like silk serpents ready to conquer the flats of the Mekong floodplain and then hopefully we’ll be in better shape by the time there are any elevation gains. The serpents of the Mekong that live in the eddies and whirlpools are called Nagas, their images embellish temple gates and rear their fangs protectively around the Buddha with many heads and colorful scales. I am excited to slither forth on my dark green naga. 

Concerned friends, friends who take their fitness seriously, have asked how much riding we’ve been doing. Not much, concerned friends. Not much. We’ve had serious house and garden projects, then some serious flu/colds/coughs going on. I’ve been watching my grandkids a few days a week, surely that counts as some sort of fitness activity. Our concerned friends are not surprised by this answer, which is why they are concerned. To this I say: thank you. We’ll have to muddle through. We’ll have to take short days in the swelter of Ho Chi Minh City and the delta and Cambodia, which is all flat, thank goodness, until we get ourselves in better gear. 

But we have always gone slowly, and stop to have that iced coffee/coconut juice/electrolyte water break early and often. We stop and look at the road, enjoy the shade, joke with the kid hiding behind the tree, pet the dog if it’ll let us, admire the potted flowers, and then we wait for the next crazy thing to happen.  

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Steve Miller/GrampiesWhat the heck, go for it. Life is short and you're a long time dead. Have a great time and store up some more memories.
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7 months ago
Bill ShaneyfeltSounds like dream machines! Enjoy the ride!! I will be eagerly watching.
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7 months ago
Scott AndersonOh, good. You’re finally public. It was hard to not say anything about this writing up our HAC group gathering!
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7 months ago
Lyle McLeodOMG, this struck so many notes.
“Let’s go to Saigon….OK”.

We had the incredibly good fortune to live there for a couple of years with our kids, many years ago. In the intervening years I don’t know how many times either Kirsten or I have said “ Let’s go to Saigon”, but the answer has always been something other than “OK”, and it usually ended with ‘maybe next year’. We’re not getting any younger as well, so it has to happen sometime.

And then you got to ‘internal gears and Gates belt drives’. More music to our ears!

We look forward to following your breadcrumb trail and it might just be the final incentive we need to follow along on a copy-cat tour.

(And you need to get Kirsten to share some stories of snakes wrapped around your handlebars and tail-less geckos in the kitchen sink. Always a good laugh!)
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7 months ago
Andrea BrownTo Steve Miller/GrampiesThis was a really pertinent comment for us today, Steve, as we just heard about an old friend that has died. Let's ride while we can!
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7 months ago
Andrea BrownTo Bill ShaneyfeltWe're pretty excited about our dream machines too! And as always we love trading plant and animal info with you.
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7 months ago
Andrea BrownTo Scott AndersonGood job keeping mum, brother. It's good to get this journal off the ground. Now just to get ourSELVES off the ground!
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7 months ago
Andrea BrownTo Lyle McLeodThose stories are so much funnier in the rear view mirror, aren't they? Thanks for following along, we'll leave a trail of, well, maybe not bread crumbs, but sticky rice and banana peels for you.
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7 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesLooking forward to photos of those bikes, and the details of how they will be packed for travel. ...Steve
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7 months ago
Andrea BrownTo Steve Miller/GrampiesScott Anderson has a photo of my bike in his latest journal entry, it's far better than any I have taken. We'll show them in their boxes for you, too, in an upcoming entry.
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7 months ago
Janice BranhamCongratulations on your finds. It hadn't occurred to me that you could even get a BF with an internal hub and belt drive. Such luxury. Wishing you many interesting adventures on your new rides.
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7 months ago
Andrea BrownTo Janice BranhamHi Janice. Yes, in Portland they used to have a monthly event in the summers called Sunday Parkways, and once a season Bike Friday would bring their wares up and set up a booth in a park, along with many other vendors and food carts. Maybe ten years ago now, we test rode their Silk line, with NuVinci hubs and Carbon belt drives. So we'd been jonesing for them ever since. It was just a coincidence that I saw the red one posted on Craigslist. These ones have Alfine hubs, apparently they changed over to those, although I believe they can make one with Rohloff as well. That we ended up with these two pristine bikes for a song is just pure, dumb luck, and we're very grateful for them. You two have a grand time in Spain, it looks like you have been so far. It's a beautiful country.
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7 months ago
Suzanne GibsonWhat an adventure, and on the perfect bikes. Sometimes everything just falls into place as if it were meant to be. I'll be eagerly following along and a bit envious.
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7 months ago
Andrea BrownTo Suzanne GibsonThank you, Suzanne. If you've followed our journals in the past, you know that we are more travelers than cyclists per se, we mosey along and stop where we like and poke around. Having bikes gives us the freedom to explore rural areas that other transport is going to fly through. We appreciate having you along!
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7 months ago
Kristen ArnimYes to everything! We will be cheering you on and following along!
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7 months ago
Jen RahnLooking forward to the giggle-worthy adventures to come.

As Juju would say, "Have fun riding on the Mekong!'
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7 months ago
Ron SuchanekYou're simply following the Mr. Grumby pre-adventure training plan, which is a rigorous program comprised of the following:

Day 1
1. Sitting in your favorite chair or couch with both feet flat on the floor and about shoulder width, give or take a foot or 2 take a drink of tea or coffee, taking care not to drip any out of the sides of your mouth.
2. Glance over at your bike and say, "I think I'll go for a ride today. I need to get in shape for my upcoming adventure".
3. Repeat step #1.
4. Take a deep breath in through your nose, and, through your mouth, slowly tell your partner/cat/neighbor/FB friend that you're planning on going for a ride tomorrow, specifically with some hills.
5. With your feet still planted firmly on the ground, stand up, take your cup into the kitchen, wash the cup, being sure to rinse thoroughly. Then, exhale, saying, "I don't like the looks of this weather. I'll go for a ride tomorrow." Go back to your favorite sitting perch.

Day 2
1. Repeat steps 1-3 from Day 1.
2. Do 10 squats. I won't describe how to do them. Do I have to do everything? Look it up on the Internets.
3. Get caught up on Instagram
4. Make a sandwich, because you realize that you've been scrolling on Instagram for 2 hours and you're starving.
5. Because rest is one of the most important components of any fitness regimen, take a nap.

A few important notes:
-Always consult with your physician before starting any exercise program.
-Try to keep your heart rate in the Zone 2 range.
***To find your zone 2, subtract 220 from your age and divide by pi. Then take that result, whatever it ends up being, who knows?, and add 6 the the 3rd power. Then, with your index finger, press lightly but firmly on the inside of your wrist while saying quietly, but out loud, "There's no place like home. There's no place like home" for a few minutes.
-Go lay down because all that math is exhausting.
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7 months ago
Bruce LellmanTo Ron SuchanekIt's a wonder you did the Great Divide Trail.
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7 months ago
Kat MarrinerLift off!! Congratulations getting off the ground and out of a wet PNW winter. I love that you go, take it slow, get in better shape along the way, stop often, engage with the kids of all ages, and tell good stories. If we didn't have a little couch warmer, we might be out there exploring the world slowly too, but as it is, we will enjoy riding along through your words and images. Love you two!
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7 months ago
Andrea BrownTo Kat MarrinerYou and Willie and Tiva are some of our favorite fans, you know that. And well you should, because you and W were our original inspiration for bicycle travel. We'll be thinking of you all the time, and wishing we could beam you down next to us for a bowl of bun cha.
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7 months ago