More news on upcoming Three Speed Rides

Originally posted on Society Of Three Speeds:

The crowd assembles at N Omaha Pkwy and N Ainsworth The crowd assembles at N Omaha Pkwy and N Ainsworth

Hello all! Yep, the first Three Speed Ride of 2015 is coming up soon, Saturday March 21st! But I’m also pleased to announce the date of the FOLLOWING Three Speed Ride! I know, this is early for me!

The summer edition Three Speed Ride will happen on Sunday June 21st. Like last year, this ride is during Pedalpalooza and will happen right after North Portland Sunday Parkways, which concludes at 4pm. And just like last year, we’ll be meeting at Omaha Parkway, N Omaha Ave at Ainsworth St, right on the Parkways Route! But that’s where the similarities end. The route will be different than last year’s route, and won’t even end in the same part o’ town. But expect a tea stop midway and an ending point with beer, near transit. This ride will be the only “open to…

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A foot ramble ’round Tryon Creek: 24 Feb 2015

If you’ve been intently following the blog this year, (all five of you!) you may note the trend of going on an adventure during one of my days off, whether a bike ride, camping, or a hike. I’ve managed to do one each week, with the exception of the first week of February (when I was sick.) One of the big benefits of doing “something” each week is that it gets me outside when I might just wallow in apathy and moodiness instead. Doing something outdoors besides the usual work-a-day commute and errands (meaning doing something “for fun”) helps keep my balance, so to speak.

It would be easy to do the types of rides and such that come naturally. But I want to challenge myself a bit. Not necessarily meaning “extreme rides”, but to go to places that I don’t go often. And the same thing happens for walks: I’m trying to go to new places, or revisit places I haven’t been in a long time.

So for my adventure last week, I decided a foot expedition to SW Portland was in order. SW is a weird quadrant divided into three distinct zones:

  1. “Inner” SW that includes downtown and the stuff hugging the Willamette southward. This is the zone everyone (whether visitors or us eastside folks) know best, because, y’know, downtown. (I spent my first month in Portland living in this zone, which is weird to think about these days.)
  2. The “Hills”, containing Portland’s showcase park, Washington Park, impressive views, and expensive homes.
  3. “Outer” SW, which consists of rolling hills and lots of post-war suburban development. Us eastsiders have little reason to head to this zone.

So obviously a venture to “zone three” was in order. While I could bike there (and have biked there), it takes a long time and is one of the worst places in town to bike. No, foot would be better, especially since what I’d want to explore is only foot-accessible: the areas around Tryon Creek, a mostly free-flowing stream that flows into the Willamette. It’s been a long time since I had been over this way, a few years at least. I had to make amends with that wrong.

It was about an hour or so on buses to get over to there. (And bus service to this area ain’t great, to put it mildly.) The 43 bus dropped me just outside Marshall Park. The suburban neighborhood above quickly morphed into a steeply-sided wooded canyon. And Tryon Creek entered the park via a set of pools and drops commonly known as the “Marshall Cascades”. This feature is one of the big draws to coming over here, because not only is the east side bereft of streams, but the ones that there are don’t drop as much (or at all, if you take into account the mostly tidal Columbia Slough.) The east side was too flat, so most streams got paved over. The west side is too hilly so the streams survived, mostly.

Marshall Park is a nice little obscure city park with a well-worn path. However, crossing SW 12th Pl, the trail, though marked as SW Trails Route 5, becomes less pronounced. While it seems it wants to make you head downward to the creek, in reality the best route is to stick to the top of the ridge, as there is no “official” through trail to Tryon Creek State Park, though there is a very unofficial one. (I tried it a few years back, it required bushwhacking, a creek fording, and a scramble up a steep embankment.) The “official” route was still rough, and required some bushwhacking to get back onto roads that would lead me to the North Creek Trail into Tryon Creek State Park.

Ah, Tryon Creek State Park, the centerpiece of this creek. It’s got an interesting history: first homesteaded, then logged to provide “charcoal” for Oregon’s iron industry, then logged just for the sake of logging, it was ripe for development in the ’70s, until a group of concerned neighbors under the banner of Friends of Tryon Creek got it made into a state park. (Read more about it via the link above.) And it’s a very nice park with lots of trails, most foot, a few horse, and one paved bike, winding through its lands.

I always like coming here, but don’t get over here as much as I should due to the difficulties in getting here. And it seems to be a place forgotten/unknown by us eastsiders: there’s no sweeping city view to be gained, just contemplative hikes through woods. Tryon Creek slows a bit through the park and meanders while the valley opens up a bit. Walking down by the creek, I’m amazed by the quiet. Yes, there’s always that distant buzz of automotive traffic, as we are in a city, but here it’s really distant. No, I hear the gurgling of the brook, the wind in trees, songbirds and birds of prey. Being down here reminds me of my youth in Connecticut, where no matter where I lived, there was a brook nearby, brooks that I explored in all seasons, swimming in pools, wading up the stream, rambling along the sides. I don’t get that type of experience this often in Portland.

After exploring the park some, I hiked out and onto city streets. SW Terwilliger was in full-on evening rush hour mode, and while I had a bit more daylight for exploring, I didn’t feel like dealing with traffic. So I hopped a bus, took a pause at Sasquatch Brewing, and headed home. It was about 5 miles of hiking altogether, not bad. I know that I’ll need to do more SW exploring at some point…

Ride With GPS route here.


Three Speed Ride, 21 March 2015

Originally posted on Society Of Three Speeds:

sots21mar2015Hey all! It’s been posted in a few other spots on this blog, and some of you may have gotten a postcard. But let’s make this official: The first Three Speed Ride of 2015 will be happening on Saturday March 21st!

The details:



Overlook Park, N Interstate Ave at Fremont. (MAX Yellow Line, Overlook Park station)

meet at 10:30 am, ride at 11 am sharp!

For the Spring classic, we’ll have a lovely 20-ish mile ramble ’round Portland. There will be a picnic/tea brewing spot along the way (BYO), plus a libations stop too. (Remember, we have all day to get to the end!) Bikes with internally geared hubs of 2, 3, 4, or 5 speeds only. Ride not a loop, but will end near transit/food/adult beverages.

Please RSVP if you are coming, I may make up some “special stuff”!

16421956790_c3ce0a7880_oAnd for this ride…

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Sunset Burrito Club, 23 Feb 2015 (and spring weather in general)

2015-02-21 21.34.08Yeah, I realize that much of the country is under the grip of “actual winter”. I read accounts about “ice biking” and “frost biking“. I hear that Boston is under about several miles of snow. To these people living in those places, “spring” is an abstract concept.

But here in Portland (and greater Cascadia for that matter), it’s been spring already. I’ve gotten used to spring coming earlier than it did back in Connecticut, but mid-February is still abnormally early. The temperatures have consistently topped out above 50F/10C, and have reached 60F/16C and above seemingly more often than believable. We may have hit freezing a couple times this February, but no true frosts. And man, it’s been sunny! Though seemingly dry, we’ve managed to stay at just about our average precipitation for the season, since we got some really rainy days. (Snowpack has suffered due to the warmth, though.)

Of course, it’s not always this way. While the west-of-Cascades Northwest is heaps more temperate than most of the country, it’s generally cooler in February, staying closer to 50F . And damper. And while this has probably been the mildest, dryest-feeling late winter we’ve had here in a long time, last year’s winter was the coldest since 1972, where we tied that year’s cold record of 12F/-11C and didn’t see 60F until April. We also got a significant snow last year, this year, none.

I’ve been trying to enjoy this springlike weather as much as possible. It’s hard not to when everything is in bloom. And for all I know, we could have a really damp April or something. And nothing says enjoying the outdoors like a Sunset Burrito Club, eh? So on Monday night, I headed over to “the spot”, burrito in basket. I missed the actual sunset by a few minutes, but got the afterglow. People happily rode their bikes by on North Willamette Blvd. Happy dogs and happy people frolicked in the horseshoe below. All this in February. And summer is still months away…

The “ugly” saddle.

If you have been around here long enough, you know I’m a Brooks saddle man. Ever since I got my first Brooks back in 2008 (wow, seven years ago!) all the bikes that have passed through my hands have had a Brooks on them at some point, including my Schwinn Heavy Duti.

But the Brooks on that bike was a pretty worn B-67 that used to be on the Raleigh Wayfarer. The B-67 is almost as old as me (I got it used from a friend) and besides considerable sag, one of the springs is broken.* So it’s not that comfortable anymore. So I could by a new Brooks. But that’s not cheap and there’s other more pressing bike projects. And I started to think: since the Heavy Duti is also supposed to be my beater/bar bike, so I shouldn’t have a desirable saddle on this thing.

So enter: the ugly saddle. An obscenely large “cruiser” saddle with springs and rails, and not much resale value. Yes, it doesn’t look as nice, I get it. But that’s not always the point. And so far it feels pretty comfortable, but we’ll have to see what the long-term verdict is.

And if you don’t like it, you can always send me a Brooks saddle! ;-)

*Yes, I know that they are replaceable.

Three Speed Ramble to Kelley Point: 18 Feb 2015

After camping the week before, I knew that I would have a more low-key adventure this week, especially since I had things to do and social obligations on both of my days off (Tuesday and Wednesday.) The weather was a bit better on Tuesday, sun and high of 64F/18C (I wore shorts and sandals!) but it worked out better to do something on Wednesday. This day was overcast and a high around 55F/13C, more typical weather for this time of year, but it felt a tad…cold after a week of above 60s weather. (I know that all you folks in the east with highs around 5F can totally relate right now! ;-) )

I decided that my adventure would be along the bottomlands along the Columbia River, which are practically out my back-door. This area is a favorite of mine, as it hits up a lot of things on the checklist: bodies of water, good views (when clear), bike paths, natural areas (in between industry), and just the notion that one is off the beaten path. I decided to head all the way up to Kelley Point, the furthest-most point on the North Portland “Peninsula”, where the Columbia River (and Columbia Slough) meets the Willamette. It’s not particularly far, about 10 miles from my door, but because it is never on the way to somewhere (unless you get to St. Johns the very, very, very long way), I don’t go there as often as I should, the last time being in October. What better time than now? And what better bike to bring than my Raleigh Wayfarer, as a ride like this just speaks “three speed ramble!”

From my house, I rambled through the neighborhoods of North Portland for a bit, trying to stick to the streets I rarely (or never) go on, getting all the way to the Peninsula Crossing Trail by the sewage treatment plant. From here, it would be bike path in various conditions and configurations all the way to Kelley Point. Much of it was pleasant despite the skirting of industrial areas and train tracks…until I got to the few miles of bike path paralleling N Marine Drive. The Drive was busy with truck traffic, and the path has several driveway crossings, where drivers of small cars and tandem tractor-trailers alike pay no attention to anything happening on the bike path. (Yep, a couple close calls.) I often forget about how bad it can get up this way, probably because I often come out on weekends.

Thankfully the badness ended, and I was at Kelley Point Park. I ended up at the picnic table right at the confluence of the two rivers, my preferred spot. I got the Esbit stove going to make tea while listening to the radio and watching the boat traffic pass by. Or in this case, not pass by, as all West Coast ports in the US have been effectively shut down over the past week. There were several ocean-going cargo ships sitting in the middle of the Columbia, waiting for the next move. The cranes at the nearby Port of Portland terminal sat idle. The only shipping traffic moving on the river were tugs and barges. Maybe that’s why things seemed a bit more peaceful than normal? Anyways, I drank tea and ate a snack. I felt like I should have gotten down here a few hours earlier (it was about 4 pm) to linger a bit more, but the relative coolness meant I didn’t want to linger that long.

I returned home primarily along the same way I came out. But I paused at a small lake along the Marine Drive bike path, just north of Smith Lake. I had seen this nameless lake countless times before, but this was the first time I noticed that there was quite a bit of flat, grassy land on the other side of the jersey barrier. I thought this would be a great spot for a clandestine urban camping expedition, as it looked pretty and vehicles on Marine Drive wouldn’t be able to see me. Of course, there was plenty of evidence of human activity here as well, so it may not be as peaceful as it looks right now. Still, I savored the moment, then headed home.

Back to cream.

It’s a bold move, so brace yourself: Over the past week, I have switched two bikes back to cream colored tires. Two bikes! At practically the same time! Crazy, no?

First, let’s talk about the Raleigh Crested Butte. A few months ago I picked up Continental Traffic 26″ x 2.1″ tires. I wanted to experiment with some more knobby tires for off-roading adventures. While they definitely helped the couple times I really needed it, even small-knobbies are finicky things. If I let the pressure get slightly low, I definitely felt it. Plus, the knobs started to rub against fenders no matter how much I tweaked them. So off they came and I replaced them with the old Rubena Cityhopper 26″ x 2.0″ tires that were on there before…

Next came the Raleigh Wayfarer three speed. After being frustrated by the Panaracer Col de la Vie tires that were on it (read a more thorough account over at Society of Three Speeds), I decided to go back to Schwalbe Delta Cruisers. I could have stayed with tanwalls, as Schwalbe makes that “flavor” for Delta Cruisers, but since I already had a perfectly good and used cream colored one, it was cheaper to just buy one other new tire, not two. So after a year of being cream-less, the Wayfarer is back to its old ways, tire wise.

At first I was a bit concerned about having two bikes with the same color tire. Then I realized that I never cared when I had multiple bikes with black tires, so why care if I have two bikes with the same not-black color? Besides, cream tires are sexy, if I do say so myself. What do you say? (Cue someone saying how they get dirty fast.)

2015-02-14 17.36.26 2015-02-15 21.06.23

Bike Overnight to Champoeg: 10-11 February 2015

After a pretty rainy weekend, I saw that my two days off, Tuesday and Wednesday, were going to see some good weather, so it felt like time for a bike camping trip! I almost wanted to bail as Tuesday approached because I didn’t feel as into it as I thought I should, but that’s probably because the week previous was pretty low activity. So I needed a good adventure. And I managed to rope Brad into coming along again!

The destination is a pretty uncommon one for me (or Brad), Champoeg State Park, about 35 miles south-southwest of Portland, along the banks of the Willamette River. While it’s a relatively close camping destination (and open all year), I’ve rarely been there, only two times in the past. That’s because it’s not a particularly exciting camping destination, nor are any of the routes getting to or from there particularly great. (Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely moments on the ride, but there is always the crap, like getting around Oregon City.) The two times I went to Champoeg it was always on the way to somewhere else: the first time when I toured the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway in August of 2009, then on the way to Silver Falls for Memorial Day 2012. I’ve never been there just to go there.

The big reason we decided on Champoeg and not another local all-year park like, say, Battle Ground Lake is because of the new improvements made to the park. Champoeg has had a hiker/biker campsite for awhile (only $5 a night per person!), which is great (but still weird since there’s other parks that should have hiker/biker sites). But over the past few months the park has installed two covered shelters in the hiker/biker area, one over a picnic table, one intended for a tent! Nice. (And more hiker/biker sites should have these amenities!) And they also added four storage lockers for food and valuables, each locker featuring an outlet to charge all of our electronic gadgets we are so addicted to.

We left inner SE just around 11 am on Tuesday. The first 10 or so miles was pretty much all along bike paths, first the Springwater and then the new Trolley Trail from Milwaukie through Oak Grove to Gladstone. We had a bit of lunch in Oregon City and caught a view of Willamette Falls on our departure. Weird: I’ve lived in Portland fourteen years but have only gone to the falls a handful of times (though I have passed it on the southbound train countless times.) Next was the dreaded climb out of Oregon City. Brad had found a way that mostly bypassed the narrow, shoulderless way that most of us have taken out of town before. It used little known Water Board Park Road, an abandoned road that zig-zaged through woods on the way to the top of the bluff. Abandoned because the area is one big slide, and there were serious heaves and fissures in the pavement, enough that we had to hike-a-bike a few treacherous sections! But it was quiet, and we got a great view of Oregon City, the many buttes of the east side, and even downtown Portland!

After Oregon City, the route was predominately rural and pretty scenic in spots, but we did have to use busy Arndt Road for a bit. (As I said, there’s no good route to Champoeg.) We rolled into the campground at 4 pm. The place was quiet, but there were some other campers around. No one was in the soggy hiker/biker sites, so we had full run of the place. Brad set up his hammock and I set my tent up in the shelter–not because I was worried about rain, but because it was one of the few non-soggy spots to set up!

Dinner was made and a campfire was attempted while Brad and I hung out through the long dark February night. (A common winter camping theme: it always feels later than it is when the sun goes down so early.) I rolled into bed sometime before 11 pm. And I was determined to not make the same mistake I made at Oxbow in January: I would not overinflate my air mattress, and I would put my sleeping bag liner in. This definitely helped, as I was much warmer and much more comfortable sleeping.

But I didn’t get a most restful sleep, though. When I went to bed, the noises I heard were the frogs in a pond, distant freight trains, and occasional coyote yelps. I woke up around 3 am to sound of someone screaming bloody murder. Apparently around midnight another bicyclist showed up to camp and stumbled around the site looking for a place to pitch. (Brad woke up then and saw someone with a headlight wandering around.) So maybe this dude was having a nightmare? Well, I didn’t find out, because this guy was still in his tent at 11 am when we left. But as Brad says, it’s probably a good thing since he may have had words with him.

We opted to take a different way back home that would drop us off in Hillsboro, where we could take the MAX light rail back home. This was done for two reasons: variety, and returning on the route we came was less fun. This route took us through Newburg where we had lunch and then wound along the edge of the Willamette Valley Wine Country. It was nice, but we got a bit crusty half-way through, especially since there are no real “stopping” points. We got into Hillsboro around 3:30 and managed to avoid most of the crunch of rush hour on the MAX.

All in all a good trip, despite the mystery other bike camper. The weather was nice the whole time, cloudy but a high in the mid 50’s F each day. And it was great to get some physical activity in. The new amenities at Champoeg were nice, but as Brad said, we probably won’t be back for another three years.