Finishing up a “real winter” weekend

As I type this report on Sunday night, there is still lingering snow and ice from Wednesday’s snow event around Portland. We may see a brief amount of snow overnight, then real rain starts and the daytime high adjusts to its seasonal norm of mid-40s. So we’ll have snow on the ground in the lowlands for five days. That’s a long time in Portland, since snow lasting more than 48 hours is uncommon. Last time we had snow linger this long was the storm in February 2014.

So, how was it? It was fun for a bit. I do like a couple snows a season, and it’s rare that we get “a lot”. But because the temps hover around freezing, it’s more ice than snow, which is never fun. I didn’t ride for three days. I didn’t want to risk it without studded tires, and all reports I heard was things were sketchy.

On Sunday I was itching to get back on a bike. The street in front of the house looked relatively clear, so I headed to SE to attend a holiday shinding at Rivelo. Many roads were clear, but there were still slushy/packed snow patches on some side streets. I took it carefully. The floating section of the Eastbank Esplanade path still had snow on it. Bridges freeze before roadway, eh?

I was in SE until nightfall.  While the initial forecast called for a warming trend starting in the afternoon, it was still just hovering around freezing. Partially because I was having bike issues, but more because I feared more ice, I decided to take the MAX light rail back up north. Getting off at Rosa Parks I basically walked my bike the mile or so home. It was indeed sketchy again, and there were more icy patches than I cared to negotiate. But I managed.

And for me, five days of this is enough. A couple days is fun, but here in Portland where we don’t do things like plow or salt roads, it gets old fast. And I also tire of all the added layers, the application of grippy things to my boots so I don’t fall on ice when walking around, the reliance on public transit. Of course, I feel conflicted about this. I grew up in a snowier, colder climate, so I was used to this. All it took was one winter in a milder climate* to make me sick of real winter. While it took me ten years to extract myself of said real winter, since then there hasn’t been much looking back.

Or is there? I do get jealous of all the reports of snow biking and wonder if I can really hack it. And while I love Portland, I realize that it isn’t the end all be all place. As it is, I worry that in a few years I might not be able to afford to live here. And where would I move? All of the other West Coast (not real winter) cities are even more expensive than Portland. I do like the desert Southwest, but I don’t think I could hack their summers. So it might mean I have to move somewhere eastward. I don’t know if that would mean New England again, as that area isn’t exactly cheap either. But maybe the upper Midwest? I don’t know. But if I do end up in a snowier place again? I would like to bike all year. Let’s see if I can pull that off…

*During my sophomore year of high school (1990-91), I lived on the coast of North Carolina.

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7 thoughts on “Finishing up a “real winter” weekend

  1. I remember the glee that came with cycling through snow in my youth. A sliding bike was just something the brain corrected an on you went to work or for fun. Something flipped several years ago when suddenly snow and ice became enemies and an excuse to stay inside, now retired it must be the fear of broken bones… Still I miss rides through quiet empty streets and out through the woods which I had to myself.

  2. We had a “snow event’ here Friday evening into Saturday morning that was more of a sleet event. Everything was covered in an ice and slush mixture. I rode to work Saturday morning, expecting the roads to be clear by the time I left. Nope. My little borough didn’t even start their trucks, while all the surrounding communities had nice, clean roads. Grr.

    I hear Eugene isn’t ridiculously overpriced yet.

    About 15 or 16 years ago, I spent several weekends over the course of a year in Denver. Fell in love with it. Please keep in mind that I really dislike populated areas, but I didn’t dislike Denver. And the mountains just to the west – heaven. Of course, you’ll need a shovel.

    • I don’t think that I could bring myself to live in Eugene. Nothing’s ever grabbed me about that place. And I did like Denver, but the problem I heard (told to me by a former resident) is that the mountains seem closer than they really are, there’s only a few ways to get to them that become choked with cars on the weekend, so forget biking.

  3. I don’t think there is any affordable places to live anymore (maybe some post industrial rust belt city?) But to live fairly snow free, in a bike friendly city, I think not.

  4. I’m here in PDX for the foreseeable future, but Boise strikes me as super nice. It does get cold, but I don’t believe they get a ton of snow. Only problem is the beach…not sure my wife and I want to be that far from an ocean.
    Still got a long time to think about it too, but Maine is calling me for my retirement years.

    • Yeah, I think this is the issue of anyone who has grown up a couple hours from the coast. Portland is the furthest inland I’ve ever lived! Sometimes I think about Spokane, which gets cold and snowy, but I don’t know if that town is “there” yet, so to speak.

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