The alphabet quest - Winterlude 2021 - CycleBlaze

December 2, 2021

The alphabet quest

So our creative friend Gregory Garceau has issued a challenge over on Cycle365, something to do with the letters A, B, and C.  Sounds easy enough, but it’s a complicated set of rules with a lot of qualifiers and exceptions.

It’s an interesting idea though, and on my birthday ride I was pleased to encounter that Assertive Black Chicken, thinking to have done with the challenge in one snap.  Since then though my mind has been humming through other sequences from the alphabet, imagining scenarios that I might plausibly see.  Several come to mind, so I decide to see how many alphabet triplets I can find during our winter stay.  I’ll try to knock them off in order, but if I get stumped I’ll move on and try to fill in the gaps later.

Great idea?  Achievable?  Quite Realistic, Surely!

Today’s conditions aren’t as fine as yesterday’s but still rideable.  It looks like the best day remaining before we pull up stakes Monday and sprint for the sun.  Rachael and I start out together this morning, with the idea that we’ll finally check out the Springwater Corridor together.  It has been a mainstay of our Portland ride portfolio for years, but like many other places here it’s become less appealing because of the homeless camps strung along it, to the point of feeling unsafe.  

We like to see for ourselves though, so we decide we’ll check it out; and if it starts feeling uncomfortable we’ll just turn back and ride south to Oregon City instead.  We start the ride by following the west bank of the river south past Tilicum Crossing and through Willamette Park to the Sellwood Bridge.  It’s pretty chilly - 51 when we start out, and it’s not expected to rise above that all day - and I don’t really expect to stop for photos and hold Rachael up.  I had my time with the camera yesterday, and we have to stay together once we reach Springwater.

I can’t resist stopping a few times though, because the river is astonishing this morning.  It’s windless and the surface of the river looks like glass.  When I bike past on my way home a few hours later it won’t be like this at all, with the wind picked up and this magical surface replaced by chop.

Looking south. I really like images like this that look like they were shot in black and white, but weren’t.
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South of John’s Landing.
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Looking across to Ross Island.
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The Sellwood Bridge. I love the new bridge for its safety (the old one was awful to bike across, sharing its narrow sidewalk with two way bike and foot traffic) but am not usually so inspired by its functional appearance. Today though it seems more colorful and photogenic than usual.
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Perfectly still, looking south from the Sellwood Bridge.
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Until this guy zips downriver and splits the scene.
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OK.  Back on task again, as Rachael gently reminds me that it’s too cold to be standing around waiting for long and she needs a big, burly escort if she’s going to brave the fearsome Springwater Corridor. Too bad she’s stuck with this meek-looking old guy who’s fit enough in the legs but with little upper body strength!

Springwater is a pleasant surprise at first.  No campers, and not too much campsite trash blighting the trail.  It looks like there must have been a sweep here fairly recently in the city’s endless but ineffectual whack-a-mole approach to the problem.  We pass other bikers and runners and it feels almost normal, and we imagine that we might be biking all the way out to Gresham until we cross 82nd and the scene immediately changes.  Looking ahead we see a string of trailside shelters and the trail itself is occupied by folks and loose dogs and walking around aimlessly.  Time to turn back.

Back on 17th we part ways.  Rachael turns south toward Milwaukie and Oregon City, on a mission to get her 42 miles in; but I’ve had my ride and decide to head back home.  My hand has been paining me of all things - I think I must have strained it from all the braking activity yesterday and decide to give it a rest.  Also, I want to return to that Sellwood substation I noticed a few days ago.

The substation looks less interesting than I’d hoped once I get back and take a longer look at it, but across the intersection is tiny Golf Junction Park, and those two passenger cars parked here.  I’ve always wondered about why they’re here, but I found the answer when researching the substation.  Golf Junction was a former stop on the inter urban rail line between Portland and Milwaukie, and according to this reference the line was the first interurban rail service in the country.  Worth a few snaps at least, and I’m happy to see the gate is open so I can slip in to check out the cars before a guy with a leaf blower hustles over to chase me off.

At Golf Junction, opposite the Sellwood substation I noticed a few days ago. I’ve always wondered why these train cars are parked here, but found the answer in researching the substation.
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Trespassing in Golf Junction Park. That Rodriguez is such a miscreant!
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Oh, and one more thing.  About that Alphabet Quest!

Ball-Chasing Dogs, Willamette Park.
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Today's ride: 24 miles (39 km)
Total: 315 miles (507 km)

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Comment on this entry Comment 1
Gregory GarceauI can't decide which part of your first paragraph is a bigger fib--the part about this Gregory guy being creative, or the part about the complicated rules, qualifiers, and exceptions. Either way, I just thought I should post this comment so all your readers don't get the wrong idea.
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1 month ago