One of my resolutions for 2015 is to be less lame. To do more stuff. To not always take the easy way out. Now you might think that I do “a lot”, and maybe I do. But there are more than enough times where, when given a choice between doing something or just going home and futz around on the internet for many a pointless hour, well, let’s just say I’ve done too much of the latter lately.
Another resolution is to “ride more”. Yeah, I do my share of riding, and commute about 12 miles round-trip on the days I work. But I want to do more fun rides. I’m trying my damndest to use one of my two days off a week for a ride (or a walk! Or a hike!) and the other for art stuff, personal projects, and the like. (This is if I don’t have other obligations/plans on those days.)
Wednesday January 7th was a day off, a day without other obligations, and a real nice day in these parts, a high of 52F/11C and sunny once the fog burned off. (If I was one of those people, I’d point out that the weather in Portland was nicer than most of the US and Canada that day, even warmer than most places in the Deep South or Texas, but I’m not one of those people.) So I had already planned on riding, but didn’t have a start time, nor any real destination. (The Gorge? Up to Vancouver Lake or Kelley Point? Powell Butte? Leif Erickson? etc etc) Then a day before Chris declares a Sunrise Coffee Club to happen on the morning of the 7th at Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden in SE. I’ve been wanting to do more sunrise coffee clubs in 2015, and doing this would not only give me the impetus to start a ride early, it wouldn’t be lame!
Of course, this would mean waking up early, as sunrise was 7:50 am, and the rhody garden about an hour ride away. And it was pretty tough waking up that morning, with the warm bed inside and fog outside. But I decided to not be lame, and got my ass in gear. The ride went by pretty smooth, the fog burned off once I got south of the Burnside Bridge, and I got to use the new bike path paralleling the new light rail line from the Eastbank Esplanade to Holgate Blvd.
I got to the garden about 7:30 am. Andy was already there, and eventually Chris, Zack, William, Patrick and his kids, and The Two Kell(e)ys arrived. The garden was beautiful in the early morning hour, the soon-to-be setting moon to the east over the golf course and lake, a mist rising from the water, ducks and rodents in the water. And it was good to see some folks I haven’t seen in awhile!
Soon coffee was made and consumed, and most people scurried home or two work. The Two Kell(e)ys went off to breakfast, but Andy and myself had already eaten and had the morn free. So we rode.
Since I hadn’t been southbound in a long time, we decided to hit up the Trolley Trail, a bike/ped path following the old interurban line towards Oregon City (about 20 miles south of downtown Portland.) We picked up the trail just south of Milwaukie. The fog had rolled back in with a vengeance, whitening out the distant landscape. I hadn’t been on the trail in a few years (surprising!) so it was fun heading down it. The trail peters out in Gladstone, the town just north of, and on the other side of the Clackamas River from Oregon City. We decided to stop in Happy Rock Coffee Roasters, which was a good choice, as the coffee was good, the atmosphere cozy, and we got to hear a bit about the local politics of this small city on the perhiphery of Portland.
From there, we headed north on the I-205 path, cut through the Clackamas area* and then onto the Springwater Corridor westward and towards where we started. Along the way we talked a bit about life stuff. Andy helped put into perspective some of my worries about how my life is going. And perspective was definitely appreciated! We found ourselves in the Eastmoreland neighborhood and Andy needed to get back home, so I was left to my own devices.
It was just around noon. I could head back home and do more stuff there, which would mean about 30 miles of riding. But I was in the riding mood, and the day too beautiful to just go back home. So more riding! I started to head east and thought about hitting up Mount Tabor or Rocky Butte. Then I caught a glimpse of Mount Hood in all its snowy glory. Hood’s magnetic grip pulled me further east. After a quick stop at the Lents Goats (who were happier this time than the last) I rambled over I-205 in Lents and rambled down the back streets until I reached the Holgate entrance to Powell Butte Nature Park.
I rarely ride up to Powell Butte during the winter, mostly because trails are off-limits to bikes if the trails are muddy. (There is one paved access to the park at SE 162nd and Powell, but man, it is steep.) Thankfully the Holgate Lane trail was in pretty good shape, no muddier than it is in summer. I usually use the Holgate Lane trail to enter as its the most gentle grade to the top of the butte, but it is still a climb.
Immediately upon entering the park I noticed the improvements that have happened since I had last been up there in summer. There were new wooden fences in spots and new trails atop the butte. Also, new yellow-painted metal wayfinding signs, much better than the old wood ones that disappeared or fell apart. And when I got to the top I had one of the best views in all of Portland, one featuring four snow-capped volcanoes: Jefferson, Adams, St Helens, and of course Hood!
I decided to make more coffee atop Powell Butte since I still had coffee beans and water, and hell, why not? When the rest of the country is suffering from the grips of Arctic cold, I can have a leisurely cup o’ joe in plein air. The only problem was I was out of coffee filters. So I improvised by using a clean bandanna I had in my bag. It totally worked, of course.
I hung out atop the butte for an hour then descended when the sun started to go down. Rather than take a more tried and true path through far east Portland, I decided to ramble north first through unfamiliar territory. I mostly stuck to 151st Ave, which was not a bad ride, though some of the crossings of major streets like Stark were tricky. It was also interesting to see how the economics of neighborhoods change, from the worn-down looking houses and random businesses south of NE Glisan to the much more well-kept middle-class post-war suburban ranches north. Eventually I found my way to NE San Rafael, headed west through Gateway, then northwesterly towards home with a stop for dinner at Vita Cafe.
I didn’t expect to ride as much as I did on Wednesday, but when I got home the odometer read 58 miles! When I mapped it on Ride With GPS it appeared closer to 54. Oh well, still a good long ride on a real nice day. A good day to be outside. A good day to be alive.
*Clackamas is an unincorporated neighborhood in Clackamas County, hosting the Clackamas Town Center shopping mall.