A quick one: En route to Seattle on Amtrak

The parting shot: Leaving Portland on Amtrak Cascades train 508 to Seattle at 6:50 pm. Then tomorrow, Orcas Island! Excited. Quite a few cyclists on the train, too. Ran into Lynne Fitzsimmons leaving the train (it originated in Eugene) and a dude with an S&S’ed adventure bike. Dude next to me has a Nitto Hat and a Rivendell water bottle. A woman has Swift panniers, another, a North St. bag. It’s the Bike nerd train!

And just after I got on, the sky opened up! Thankfully the weather will be better for the rest of the trip.

And bearbear is along with me, plus new friend Meanderin’ Moose.

When blogs go dark


Over the five years that I’ve been really involved with this blogging world, I’ve seen more than a handful of blogs wither away. Maybe the person’s interests had changed, or they felt like they said all they could say, or they just didn’t have the time, or they just didn’t care anymore. It happens, it’s the nature of things. Some of those blogs I miss, many,not so much.

But the thing about these blogs is that for the most part they still exist. The domain is still there, and you can go visit the blog, but there may not have been anything posted in the last year or two. Or three.

But sometime the blog goes dark, as in it doesn’t exist anymore on teh internets. If you’ve been following it in some form like email updates or a reader, you may have the posts somewhere. But if you try to follow the url, you get a 404, or with WordPress, “The author(s) have deleted this blog.” Any time I see this, I wonder what exactly happened. And the most recent incidence of it has me particularly curious.

Every summer I end up following a few blogs by people actively touring the country. This summer I was following one particular blog of a dude heading from the east coast to Portland. I didn’t know him, and forget exactly how I came across his blog, but I decided to follow his posts. They were pretty sporadic, which I’m fine with, as I know from first-hand experience how hard it is to blog every day/every other day when on the road. (I’m always amazed by the folks who can do it almost daily.) I’ll admit that the blog wasn’t the most interesting of reads, as he concentrated too much on “bike touring is sleeping, eating, drinking water, and pedalling” and less on where he’s been, what he saw and the experiences he’s had. But it was still nice to see his progress across country.

Then I realized that the new posts stopped about a few weeks ago. A week or so without an update is one thing, but nearing a month when you’re on a tour is something else. Wondering if my reader wasn’t updating posts in a timely manner (it happens), I decided to go straight to the url, and got the “blog has been deleted” message.

Now what happened? I really hope nothing bad happened, like a bad injury, or even worse, death. But when that has happened, from what I’ve seen the blog doesn’t come down and maybe a relative/spouse/partner/friend will post the bad news to the blog. So maybe he’s still on the road? But deleting an entire blog while one is supposedly in the midst of a several month long tour, if still doing the tour, is just plain weird. Especially since this person is doing this tour as a fundraiser, and the fundraising site (last I checked) was still up, including the no-longer-functioning blog link. (And his facebook and twitter links lead to similar dead ends.) I can only think of two possible scenarios: either he pissed off WordPress and they took down the blog, or he bailed on the tour for some unknown reason, got embarrassed about not finishing, and tried to erase any reminder of the trip.

And I know the feeling when one gets their hopes up, tells the world what they’re going to do, then doesn’t (or can’t) finish. I felt that way at the end of the Cross-Continent Tour in 2011. While we were on the road for over four months, and did log several thousand miles, we didn’t get to the East Coast as was our goal. I felt bad, and felt that we let people down.

But I don’t know what’s going through this particular dude’s head. And unless he starts blogging again, I’ll never know. I just hope he’s okay.

You’re going too fast!

a-pizza-ride-stop-at-rivendell-ridge_19719403638_oI am not a fast cyclist.

I’ve never been a fast cyclist, and never really aspire to be one. I’m not into racing (one of my least favorite things about July is having to pretend I care about TdF because bicycles). If I am riding with people and speed is any bit a factor, I’m either in the middle or back of pack. I’ve finished every randonneur event I’ve been in, but always within the last hour or so. And yeah, sometimes I get hung up on it, but for the most part I don’t really care. Oh sure, it would be nice to go somewhat faster, but it’s not priority number one right now, well, not until I get a faster bike.

So I was surprised to hear that I was going too fast.

This happened on the pizza ride I led on Tuesday. The pack of us, about twenty cyclists, were riding up N Willamette Blvd towards St Johns. At this point Willamette lines the bluff, and it’s a fairly straight road with bike lanes and no stop lights or signs (until you hit Portsmouth.) So nothing to stop oneself from “opening up”.

carrying-the-pies_19899741012_o urban-pizza-delivery-vehicle_19284608964_oBut was I really opening up? Not only am I slow, but I was riding my slowest possible bike, my single-speeded, coaster-braked Schwinn Heavy Duti with the giant Wald basket, a bike that by definition is heavy. I was riding the Heavy Duti for a few reasons: I don’t often ride it, the route would be relatively flat, and the basket was able to hold large pizza boxes atop it, which would be useful for a few stops, and finally it would “handicap” me a la Harrison Bergeron. So if anything, I felt like I was going at a modest pace, though a little amped up from leading a ride.

So I turned around and yep, the back of the pack was pretty far back. I stopped for a minute at the light at Portsmouth for everyone to catch up. (And if you were worried that I was being totally irresponsible, there was a sweep in the back so I knew the back wouldn’t get lost.)

So this all surprised me. Am I turning somehow into those people who talk loudly about their slowpokeitude, then when you ride with them, you are constantly struggling to keep up with them, until you can’t, then when you catch up to them minutes later as they so graciously wait up for you, they look at you with that look in their eyes that says I wasn’t going that fast, so what’s holding you up?

If I am turning into that person, please call me on it.

Curing those halfway through summer blues (and the upcoming San Juans trip)

14850810189_8ac3a7a432_kIt’s nearing the end of July. That means summer here in the Northern Hemisphere is halfway done. And like most summers (excepting 2011, the Cross-Continent Tour summer), I feel like I haven’t done nearly enough. Well, I always feel like I’m not doing nearly enough, but there is only so much time to do summer stuff, and as August nears, this feeling becomes more acute. It’s always a bit of a letdown, after the elation from early spring and vows of doing as much outdoors as possible. (Of course, it doesn’t help that this summer has been hotter than most.)

And I only camped once in July, where my schedule allowed. I didn’t camp at all in June, despite wanting to (and vowing to camp each month.) No use beating myself up over what I haven’t done, but the time for further action is now.

Thankfully, stuff will be happening. I have the Eastern Oregon tour in mid-September and the Three Speed Camping Trip in August.

But most importantly, next week I’ll be heading up north for a four day biking adventure around the San Juan Islands. I’ve been going to the San Juans the past couple summers, and it’s fast becoming one of my favorite Cascadia travel destinos. This time around there will be two new wrinkles: I’ll be going to Orcas Island for the first time, and I’ll be staying indoors at hostels the whole trip through. Yes, a true “inn-to-inn” tour! It will be nice to “tour” for once without lugging camping gear around. Yeah, I’ll miss camp sunsets and breakfasts, but they’ll happen again somewhere else.

I’ll be leaving Portland on Sunday July 26, heading up to Seattle via Amtrak where I’ll overnight. Monday morning I’ll get up to Orcas Island and be there through Tuesday night. On Wednesday I’ll ferry over to San Juan Island to spend the day. On Thursday I’ll get back over to the mainland (unfortunately not enough time for a Lopez Island trip this time, plus there are no hostels there) and head back to Seattle for an overnight, then return to Portland Friday morning. Barring any issues, it should be a blast! And I will update y’all on the road.

So summer ain’t dead yet!

Country Bike Ramble, socalpedalpusher edition, TOMORROW, Friday 17 July!

PLEASE NOTE: Details have changed, see corrections, which are in italics.
Hugh’s only in town for a few more days, so we got to get in our Hugh time when we can!
So if you can, join us for a Country Bike Ramble tomorrow, Friday July 17th. We will meet at 6 pm at Piccolo Park, SE 28th Av between Division and Clinton. Depart by 6:30 pm. We will first ramble up to Mount Tabor, then over to Powell Butte for sunset viewing and all that. We’ll head over to Montavilla for a drink at the new brew pub, then up to Tabor to watch the sun set.
We probably won’t have time to stop en route for supplies, so stock up on foods and libations BEFORE you get to Piccolo. New Seasons and Peoples Co-op are close by, and you can get beer at both and hot food at New Seasons.
We’ll be departing promptly at 6:30 pm. If you get there after that, don’t expect anyone to be there. Just head to the top of Tabor (you know the spot!) and meet there, ETA there around 7 ish. ETA for Powell Butte 8-8:30pm, and yes, we’ll be up at the viewfinder at the top, next to the old orchard.
Afterwards we’ll be enjoying drinks in Montavilla (ETA 10 pm.)
Special note for TSBC members: Wear your TSBC hat if you got it.
See you tomorrow!

Bike Camp Cookout ride report, 13 July 2015

The whole idea around this edition of the Bike Camp Cookout was to entertain out of town guests. Hugh, aka socalpedalpusher was in town with his wife. And Curtis, aka Curtis, was in town to pick up his new Bantam bicycle and ride down the coast. We had a good crew of a dozen or so at the meeting place, Kenilworth Park on SE Holgate. From there I led everyone on a ramble southward through the Reed College campus and then down to the Springwater Corridor trail.

A quick westbound trip on the Springwater led us to our destino, Johnson Creek Park in Sellwood. I love this little obscure park because it is where the eastside’s only two extant creeks, Crystal Springs  and Johnson, meet. There is a little bridge over Crystal Springs to get to the small peninsula between the two streams, and that is where we cooked.

Most of the stoves seen were alcohol, but Andy and Chele outdid everyone else by bringing a classic car-camping staple, the Coleman double burner, with a cast-iron skillet! I made my classic instant polenta with veggie sausage. Hugh and his wife Irene made an Indian yogurt concoction. Elodie and Ben made some sausage and veggies. And yes, there was beer!

We hung out until after sundown. My only regret was not wearing my sandals so I could wade through the creeks!

Bike Overnight: Dodge Park, 7-8 July 2015

By the time my days off hit this week, I was getting stir-crazy. I hadn’t camped in two months (two months!) and didn’t feel like sleeping another hot night in my room. I put out the call: would anyone be interested in a quick and close bike overnight, somewhere near water? Chris answered, and we decided on Dodge Park, a campground owned by the Portland Water Bureau and on the Sandy River. Despite its proximity to Portland (only a 13 mile ride from the easternmost end of the MAX light rail), I had only been out there once before, almost exactly three years ago. This can be explained mostly by the fact that they only reopened the campground in 2012, after many decades of no camping. So what better time than now?

I left my house mid-afternoon on Tuesday July 7. Yeah, I should have gotten going earlier, but the nice thing about a quick overnight like this is I didn’t have to! (Of course, I dropped a hat on the way, causing a mile back-track, but whatevs.) I wedged my loaded bike on the loaded MAX train (rush hour, which is the real reason I should have gotten going earlier), and got to Gresham at 5 pm. It was mostly leisurely riding on fairly quiet and scenic roads (plus a section of the Springwater Corridor bike path) and I got to the park around 6:30.

A perfunctory check in with the camp host (no firewood to purchase because of a fire ban), camp set-up, dinner cooking. I saw a couple cycle campers pull up and pause for a few minutes, but they decided to get into Mount Hood National Forest that night. (I did warn them about the big hill ahead of them!) Chris arrived around 8 while I was exploring the Sandy and the Bull Run River (the source of Portland’s water supply, hence the park being owned by the water bureau). We decided to wade for a bit in the silty waters, which was cool but not frigid. The Sandy is a true glacial river with glacial silt, the silt giving it its name. A lovely river indeed, a river I don’t get to often enough.

It was a quiet night at the campground, as there were only a handful of other campers, but I can imagine the campground would be quite full on the weekends. We hit the hay maybe before 11. I didn’t have the best sleep, but I left the rain fly off, so I got to see some stars! Chris got up the earliest since he needed to be home by 11 am. I made a leisurely breakfast of blueberry pancakes and coffee and wandered back down to the rivers again before taking off around 9 am. Instead of riding just 13 miles to the MAX, I opted to “get some miles in” and ended up rambling all the way back to my house, a distance of 30 miles.

All in all, a nice little trip. I have my quibbles with Dodge Park: the sites are fairly expensive ($22) and are wide open with no breaks between campers. There’s no hiker/biker site. And you can’t have alcohol. But it is very nice to be close to the river, a nice cool mountain river that one can swim or wade in. While Oxbow Park is also on the Sandy, there are only a couple spots one can actually get into the river, and they are not near the campground. But at Dodge the river is right there, waiting for you. I’ll be back again sometime.