A metric milestone - Winterlude 2021 - CycleBlaze

December 1, 2021

A metric milestone

After Sunday’s spectacular weather and ride out to Sauvie Island I’ve had a hard time feeling too motivated for the last two days now that it’s turned grey and damp again.  I’ve left Roddy in the bike room cooling his tires while I’ve indulged myself with a couple of relaxed days, much of it spent rereading a few of our old journals and doing my best to recreate maps that were lost when the journals were imported to this then-new site four years ago.

It makes for a great rainy day activity, and really the main reason I’ve invested so much time in maintaining these journals - I imagine them repaying us with many hours of happy and wistful reminiscence when we finally age out of this touring business.  Remember this unbelievable day, I’ll ask Rachael as I bring up a photograph or video or read a narrative of some dimly remembered experience so incredible at the time that you’d think we could never forget it.

Do you remember this photograph, I’ll ask then as I did yesterday?   Where was it taken, and what was happening then?  she’ll flatter me and say it looks like it was taken not long ago, but no - it’s in our hotel in Saint Gaudens back in 2014.

It’s still my favorite portrait of the two of us, and brings tears to my eyes even now as I look at it and relive that terrifying day when we lost each other for four hours climbing Col d’Agnes in the French Pyrenees, not knowing where the other one was and who was in front.  Hard to believe now that I climbed the pass, dropped down the other side hoping I’d find you at the bottom and then turned back and climbed back up again before finally finding you again near the summit.  It’s that day, and we’re back at the hotel joyously reunited and looking ahead to dinner and to yet another long day in the saddle and mountains in the morning.

Remember?
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Not a bad activity for yesterday, looking back with wonder and gratitude on the eave of a milestone birthday.  Today though, we ride.

For a few years now friends have suggested that I could lower my sights on my birthday ride and try riding my age in kilometers rather than miles.  An interesting thought, and I’m sure that time will come sooner than I’d like.  Not yet this year though, I don’t think; but while I wait for a sunny day in Tucson for that ride, in the meantime I decide I’ll try out the shorter version today, on my actual birthday.  I make the calculation, realize I need nearly a 47 mile ride to get my 75 k’s in, and come up with this idea:

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47 miles, 3,900’ of climbing?  Looks doable but suitably challenging.  I’m in luck with the weather too, with today’s conditions looking nearly as favorable as Sunday’s.  I wait around until mid-morning and then head out, starting with the climb up Cornell to Skyline Boulevard.  It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to ride up Cornell without the traffic, as its midsection is closed to cars for several months for maintenance on its two tunnels.  Once I pass the first tunnel I ride it as far as the turnoff to Thompson without seeing a single car, and then am passed only once all the rest of the way to the summit - by another bicyclist.

On Cornell. This is the only time where it’s been quiet enough that I could stand in the street with the camera.
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Once on top, I follow Skyline north to Skyline School and then drop off the west side of the ridge down Brooks Road to Kaiser Road where I turn south again back to Springhill.  On top it’s chilly and foggy, and I wonder why Rachael didn’t remind me to take my coat with me when I left  youd think she’d take better care of her old man than that, huh?

Once I drop down Brooks Road though I quickly leave the fog belt; and from there it’s a fine, mostly downhill ride on Keizer.  I’ve ridden this loop a number of times, but as far as I remember it’s the first time in this direction.  Usually I’m climbing up Keizer and Brooks, both of which definitely have their steep spots.  This is a real treat, and I wonder why I’ve never experienced it before.

Foggy and chilly on Skyline today. I’m starting to wonder if I’ve dressed appropriately.
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On Skyline, just before the turnoff to Brooks Road.
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Brooks Road. Viewed in this direction, this looks like great fun.
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Along Keizer Road, and out of the fog. This is such an odd lineup, with that one tall tree towering above a line of gold-skirted dwarves.
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Up until now this has been a reasonably fast paced ride - well, except for that climb up to Skyline which I chose to slow down and savor rather than just race through it.  Beyond Springhill though its character changed drastically as the next twelve miles follow the Westside Regional Trail, a squiggly ribbon of loosely integrated slender parks that follow a transmission line corridor as it undulates south across a succession of low ridges and wetlands.

It’s an interesting ride, if not quite as scenic as it might be with the ever-present towers and wires of the transmission line cluttering up the scene.   It’s definitely slow going though - particularly the north end, which is really better suited to walkers than cyclists.  The first several miles cross seven or eight roads, none of which even have curb cuts so there’s no choice but to stop and dismount so that you can lift your bike down the curb on one side of the street and then up again on the other side.   And in between streets it’s not particularly fast because you have to work past all the walkers, dogs, and strollers that share the trail with you and slowly weave down a serpentine on one side of a narrow valley and up the other side.

And, since you’ll cross a half dozen little wetlands you have to factor in some wait time while you’re stopping to check out the ducks here and there.

And, if it happens to be your birthday, you have to stop when the phone rings when you’d normally just let it ring.  Today though it could be your aging parents, calling to sing happy birthday to you like they have every year for as long as you can remember.  Their voices might be raspier and their banter a little less focused than in years past, but it’s a call you don’t want to miss.

The northern end of the Westside Regional Trail.
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On the Westside Trail, bridging over one of the half dozen wetlands it crosses.
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Image not found :(
An American widgeon.
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On the Westside Trail. Some of these serpentine slopes are quite steep.
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Slow going, but undeniably fun.
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The bicolored holly along the Westside Trail is brilliant today when the sun hits it.
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The trail passes through a forest of holly, an apparent holly orchard. I haven’t noticed this before and didn’t know holly was grown as a crop.
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Keith KleinNew to me, too. The wild holly around here rarely gets that big . People cut it for decorations and it doesn’t get a chance to grow. Maybe starting an orchard wold be a long term gift to future generations.
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1 month ago
For this month’s Cycle365 ABC challenge: an Assertive Black Chicken.
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Gregory GarceauAbsurdly Beautiful Cockadoodledoo-er.
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1 month ago

Off the south end of the Westside Regional Trail there’s about two miles of on-road cycling on Walnut Street as I cut across to that other ribbon green space over here, the Fanno Creek Trail.  Fanno Creek runs generally north-south here, originating in the West Hills west of Portland and eventually emptying into the Tualatin River.  The park has a totally different nature than the Westside Trail because it follows the creek the whole way and is essentially flat.  Also, it’s much prettier without the transmission line cluttering up the sight lines.  It’s really a very attractive route, and one of our favorites on this side of the ridge.

Like The WRT though, the FCT is a very slow ride - especially in the wet season, when many of its paths are underwater.  Some spots are shallow and short enough that you can bike through them if you’re feeling lucky; some you can walk around in the waterlogged grass if you don’t mind getting your feet and socks wet; and some spots are virtual lakes where there’s obviously no alternative to to backtracking and picking a different route on higher ground.  Great fun, but slow going.

On the Fanno Creek Trail.
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On the Fanno Creek Trail.
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On the Fanno Creek Trail.
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On the Fanno Creek Trail.
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Keith KleinBike trail or canoe trail?
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1 month ago
Nope.
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On the Fanno Creek Trail.
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So that’s twenty miles of very slow riding, on a day where I didn’t start until nearly eleven.  It’s about three thirty when I finally leave the park and make it back out on the road network again, but I’m still 12 miles from home.  So it’s unwelcome news when I realize I’m having a mild SVT episode, my first in over a month.  My theory is that this one was triggered by dehydration - I’ve brought a full water bottle long, but it’s as full now as when I left the house this morning.  Thinking back, I’m pretty sure I didn’t stop for food or drink anywhere along the way, which is pretty stupid really.  I’ve come to believe that dehydration can bring one of these episodes on, so you’d think I could remember to take a drink now and again.

So that slows me down.  I can’t take hills very fast under this condition so it takes me awhile to get out of the basin and cross the ridge over to Terwilliger.  From there it’s downhill nearly all the way home, and the valley is getting really pretty in the twilight; but I can’t really stop and admire it in my hurry to get home before sundown and in time for my birthday dinner date.  I make it home while it’s still light enough to feel safe as I bike through downtown Portland, and just in time to hop in the shower before heading out to my birthday dinner.

I’m in a hurry to get home before nightfall and in time for our dinner date, but I can just afford one shot up at the hills above PSU.
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Patrick O'HaraHappy Birthday, Scott. Hope you had a great one!
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1 month ago
Suzanne GibsonHappy Birthday! Well done, even if it was only metric!
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1 month ago
Keith KleinJoyeuse anniversaire!
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1 month ago
Bob DistelbergScott, hope you had a great birthday!
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1 month ago
Eva WaltersHappy birthday, Scott, and many happy returns. Hope your dinner was festive and delicious!
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1 month ago
Rich FrasierHappy birthday, Scott! Just so happens it’s mine, too.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Rich FrasierReally! One more thing we have in common. Did I tell you I used to play bass in a stand-up band too?
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Eva WaltersThanks, Eva. Dinner was great at Nuestra Cucina, a long standing favorite here that we haven’t dined at since before Covid. We’re happy to see they survived, unlike so many other eateries here.
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1 month ago
Gregory GarceauTo Rich FrasierA little late, but Happy Birthday Scott and Rich.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Gregory GarceauYes, I’ve been tapping my foot here impatiently waiting to hear from you. Thanks!
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1 month ago
Graham FinchIt looks like that was a super day on the bike.

I'm not sure I can do that distance.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Graham FinchWell, maybe not the way you travel, unless you take credit for all the times you double back to retrieve your camera.
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1 month ago