A Wednesday Ramble, 20 January 2016

Tuesday and Wednesday were my first two days in a row off since the new year! So obviously I needed to do something resembling an adventure. Tuesday was rain all day, but Wednesday was dry for most of the day. So Wednesday it would be.

But what kind of adventure? Originally I was hoping to take the Schwinn Heavy Duti out, since I rarely ride it. But I was thinking about doing some Coffee Outside action, and the Bantam Rambleneur would be best suited for it. Plus, there was still a chance of rain later in the day, and I didn’t want to be out in it with the Heavy Duti. While the Schwinn has fenders, it only has a coaster brake, which would be a bit sketchy in the wet.* So, the Bantam it would be!

Where to? I didn’t want to go that far, especially since I was departing the house in the afternoon. Thankfully I only have to go about a mile to hit the Columbia Slough bike trail, so I aimed for that. Ah, the Slough trail. I often forget about it, even though it’s so close to home. But it’s in the opposite direction from everything I do, and not on the way to anything. But it’s great for leisure riding, which is what I wanted to do!

While there were some sun breaks earlier in the day, by the time I left the house around 1 PM, the sky was steely overcast. However, the clouds were fairly high, so I still got good views of snow-capped Mount Saint Helens, Mount Adams, and Mount Hood. While it’s great seeing these volcanoes on a clear winter day, when they are visible on a cloudy day in winter, they have an eerie aura to them, something hard to describe. But beautiful. Just look at the photos!

While I could have ridden all the way up to Kelley Point, where the Willamette and Columbia meet, I was aware that there was a band of rain moving into the metro area. (Thank you, smartphone weather app!) So I aimed for Smith Lake instead. It’s a lowland lake located in the former floodplain of the Columbia River.**

On the way there, though, I heard the all too familiar HISS…HISS…HISS of a flat. Great. A good chunk of glass had embedded itself into the tire. A flat exactly one week after the last? Yeesh. I flipped bike over and got to work. (Oh yeah, I brought my radio for the adventure, and it was nice to listen to jazz while fixing the flat!) While repairing the puncture I realized that this was the first time I fixed a flat solo on this bike. The last one I brought to the shop, and the only one before it was on the Eastern Oregon tour, where it was a team effort. Thankfully with a big chunk of glass, it was easy to find the hole, and I managed to patch the tube without completely removing it from tire.

It was only five miles to Smith Lake, the water much higher when I visited it in summer.*** There’s a little picnic area near the access road, and that’s where I made coffee. But better yet, this picnic area was sheltered, so even if the rain did start, I would be covered! Somehow I had forgotten about this sheltered area. I need to keep this in mind for future adventures.

For this Coffee Outside outing, I decided to bring the big Trangia 27 Stormcooker set, the first time I had used it since summer. The main reason it came along was because I wanted to have a bit of lunch. So I pulled a box of bean soup I had in my “camping reserves.” In any case, the full stove set made this feel that much closer to camping. Originally, I was thinking about camping this weekend, but the weather forecast was not conducive to that. So this gave me a little taste of that, “day camping” if you will. Still, this reminds me that I need to get out soon.

After coffee and lunch, I decided to head back towards home, since the rain was still coming. I’ll do a more extensive ramble some other day, but for now, this was good enough.

*I know, I know, bikes with only a coaster brake are not great. But to get a front brake on the Heavy Duti would take some investment and one of the big things I like about this bike is that I haven’t sunk a lot of money into it. Plus, I have three other bikes with better braking abilities.

**I say former because the levees protect this area.

***The lake had completely dried up then.

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